Trojans soar in 35-0 shutout win

Trojan quarterback Kaden Kleiner stretches to keep the football alive as he heads out of bounds after a hit by a Lyons defender in the second quarter. Kleiner’s extra effort gave the Trojans enough yards to pick up another first down and extend the possession.The legacy of a winless season in 2015 was buried quickly and impressively on opening night 2016.

The young and inexperienced Trojans of a year ago put on a show of determination, and ultimately domination, in a 35-0 victory over Lyons in the season opener Friday at Joel Wiens Stadium.

The Trojans, under first-year coach Devin Metzinger, came out ready from the start. Overcoming a lost fumble five plays into their opening drive, the Trojan defense hunkered down and forced a Lyons turnover on downs after only four plays.

Regaining possession after a Lyons punt rolled to the Trojan 7-yard line, Hills­boro lost three yards on its first play. Now in the shadow of their own end zone, sophomore running back Brooks Gardner broke loose for 36 yards, then Jorge Hanschu followed with back-to-back runs of 24 yards to give the Trojans a first down at Lyons’ 12.

A face-mask penalty against Lyons moved the ball to the 7-yard line, where Gardner broke through the middle of the defense for Hillsboro’s first score with 6:20 left in the first quarter. Jeffrey Jorgen­son’s point-after kick made it 7-0.

Lyons went four-and-out on its next possession, including a shanked punt that gave the Trojans the football at the Lyons 29-yard line. Hanschu fumbled on the Trojans’ first play, with Lyons recovering at the Lions’ 30-yard line.

But eight plays later, Jorgenson intercepted a Lyons pass at the Hillsboro 37 and raced down the far sideline for a 63-yard score. He then kicked the extra-point kick for a 14-0 lead with 58 second left in the opening quarter.

Another Lyons punt gave Hillsboro possession at the Trojan 35-yard line with 11:48 left in the half. Six plays and a personal-foul penalty later, junior quarterback Kaden Kleiner passed to 6-foot-3 senior receiver Jacob Funk across the middle for a 5-yard score. Jorgen­son’s kick made it 21-0 with 9:52 left in the half.

Yet another four-and-out for Lyons gave Hillsboro the ball again at the Trojan 45. Three plays later, Hanschu cut left and raced 39 yards to the end zone at the 7:16 mark. Jorgenson’s kick made it 28-0.

The Lions responded with their most consistent drive of the night, starting at their 27-yard line and moving to the Trojan 49 in nine plays before stalling out.

Hillsboro took over at its 30, then marched 70 yards in 11 plays with Kleiner sneaking into the end zone from one yard out for a 35-0 lead 11 seconds before halftime.

By league rule, a 35-point lead meant a running clock the entire second half. Neither team managed a serious scoring threat during the fast-paced third and fourth quarters.

How dominant were the Trojans? Hillsboro rolled up 303 yards of offense to Lyons’ 38 on an equal number of plays. The Trojans collected 15 first downs to the Lions’ two.

Hanschu led the ground attack, picking up 124 of the Trojans’ 271 rushing yards on nine carries.

“We knew we wanted to come out and establish a tempo, and that it be our tempo—and we did that,” Metzinger said. “Our starting five (linemen) did a great job of getting running lanes, and our running backs did a phenomenal job of finding the hole. At times it wasn’t always pretty, but they found it and got upfield. “

The Trojans lost three fumbles during the game, but Metzinger said he was pleased with the way his team responded to adversity.

“We talked about those tough plays that are going to happen throughout the year,” he said. “Something’s going to go bad—and we had some fumbles that put us in bad situations. But we just said, what are we going to do? Are we going to be winners or are we going to be quitters? We came out tonight and proved that we’re winners.

“I was extremely proud of the guys.”

Coming—Next week, the 1-0 Tro­jans will travel to Kingman in search of their second win. The Eagles lost their season opener to state-ranked Hoisington, 44-3.

“For a Game 1, we’re in a good spot right now,” Met­zinger said. “But we’re going to come back and continue to get better at what we do and be ready next week for King­man.”

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