Three first-half touchdown passes from quarterback Luke Moore provided just enough offense for Hillsboro to survive a mediocre second-half performance and post a critical 21-13 win at Kingman Friday night.
?This is huge for us, it?s a confidence builder,? coach Max Heinrichs said of the win. ?Our kids probably know we?re not as bad as we think we are, and we?re probably not as good as we think we are, too.?
Hillsboro showed its good side in the first half as the offense moved the ball almost at will in the early going while rolling up a 21-6 halftime lead.
The Trojans took the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards in seven plays, capped by a 23-yard scoring pass from Moore to Ben Bebermeyer at the 9:42 mark of the first period. Ben Gardner, who kicked well all night, nailed the extra-point for the early 7-0 lead.
About 4 minutes later, with Hillsboro facing third-and-9 at its own 19, Moore threw a pass into the hands of Kingman?s Sam Keeny, who returned the ball to the Trojan 5. It was Moore?s first interception of the season.
Three plays later, Shawn Chalakee, the Eagles? workhorse in the backfield, scored from two yards out. The Trojans blocked Blake Bergkamp?s kick to keep the score at 7-6 with 4:24 left in the quarter.
Undeterred by the setback, Trojans bounced back with a quick score. Bebermeyer returned the ensuing kickoff to the Trojan 37, then Chance Reece dashed 38 yards off left tackle on the first play from scrimmage.
On the next snap, Moore capped the 63-yard drive with a pass down the middle to tight end Aaron Klassen for the final 25 yards and the score. Gardner?s kick was good as gold for a 14-6 lead with 3:52 still to play in the first period.
In the second quarter, the Trojans pieced together their third scoring drive, a 67-yard journey that started with runs of 8 and 40 yards by Reece. It ended with 5:55 left on a 16-yard pass from Moore to Bebermeyer on the sixth play of the possession. Gardner nailed the PAT for Hillsboro?s 21-6 halftime lead.
The Trojans appeared to be fired up as they prepared for the second half. But Stephen Gutierrez briefly ignited Kingman by returning the kickoff 36 yards to the Kingman 43. Five plays later, Bryan Suenram took an option pitch around the right side and scampered 49 yards for a touchdown.
Bergkamp?s kick made it 21-13 barely two minutes into the third quarter.
The quick strike seemed to shake the Trojans? confidence, as they were unable to put together a sustained drive the rest of the night. On at least three occasions, drives that seemed to be gaining momentum were short-circuited by critical penalties.
To its credit, the defense kept the Eagles out of the end zone to preserve the victory.
Heinrichs was disappointed with his team? performance in the second half but glad to be the team on the field that improved to 2-3 rather than the one that dropped to 1-4.
?We?ve played some tough teams and we?ve played them close,? Heinrichs said. ?I feel this one was a good one to get, even though it didn?t happen the way we wanted it to happen.?
Reece, with several nice runs for the night, picked up 163 of Hillsboro?s 180 net rushing yards on 18 carries, while Chalakee led Kingman with 58 of the Eagles? 179 yards on 20 carries.
Moore threw for 141 yards on 9-for-20 passing with Beber?meyer catching four balls for 76 yards. Kingman throwers combined for 8 yards on 1-for-10 passing.
Coming?Hillsboro (1-2, 2-3) will take on CKL North Division foe Smoky Valley (1-2, 1-4) Friday at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m.