Jacob Yoder, playing a monster game on both sides of the ball, scored three Trojan touchdowns on the ground. But it was two long-range missiles from quarterback Spencer Brown to Daniel Jost that finally grounded the rapid-fire blitzkrieg of Remington’s Cole “Air” Cherryholmes.
“It was a great game—what can I say?” Hillsboro coach Len Coryea said afterward. “We beat somebody who was good, finally. We hung on and didn’t lose it at the end.”
The Trojans appeared to be on the way to a comfortable win when Brandon Brown picked off Cherryholmes on the very first play from scrimmage. The ball was jarred into the air when Yoder hit the intended receiver as the pass arrived.
If the interception shocked the sizeable Bronco fan base, Yoder added the awe by taking the handoff on the Trojans’ first play and galloping 48 yards off right tackle for the first strike. Spencer Brown missed the point-after kick, but Hillsboro led 6-0 only 24 seconds into the contest.
And that was just the start. After Remington went three-and-out, Hillsboro pieced together an 11-play, 51-yard drive with Yoder finding the end zone again, this time from 6 yards out.
Hillsboro’s 2-point conversion was foiled by a holding penalty and then an interception by Remington’s Wayne Bennett. But the Trojans still led 12-0 with 6:16 left in the first quarter.
Hillsboro forced another three-and-out on the next possession, then cashed it in again when Brown found Jost for a 56-yard scoring bomb with less than five minutes left in the quarter. Brown’s kick made the score 19-0.
But just when it seemed the game was in hand, Cherryholmes and his teammates found new fuel.
The Broncos drove from their own 26 to the Trojan 26 in seven plays. On the next play, a screen pass to Matt Jacobs, a Remington player was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct along the Bronco sideline. Coach Chris Lawler argued the call and ultimately received two flags and an ejection from the sideline official.
If anything, the bizarre incident ultimately worked in Remington’s favor. The 45 yards in penalties led to a poor Bronco punt on fourth-and-46. Hillsboro took over on its 40-yard line. But on the third play of the possession, Kyle Berg intercepted Brown at the Bronco 20.
Cherryholmes and company then drove 80 yards in 14 plays, culminating in a 4-yard scoring pass to Jake Thiessen. The deadly duo then hooked up for the 2-point conversion that cut the deficit to 19-8 with less than 7 minutes left in the half.
When the Trojans went three-and-out, Cherryholmes went back to work. This time, he steered his team 63 yards in nine plays, connecting with Thiessen again for the score, this time from 15 yards out.
Cherryholmes’ throw to Thiessen for 2 points fell incomplete.
The 19-14 margin held up until intermission, but not long after that. The Broncos kept their head of steam as the third quarter began.
After stopping Hillsboro in four plays, the Broncos vaulted into the lead for the first time when Cherryholmes hit Thiessen with an 86-yard bomb on the Broncos’ first play from scrimmage. The defense stopped Cherryholmes’ run for 2 points to keep the score at 20-19.
“I didn’t worry about that one,” Coryea said of the quick strike. “I still thought we could score points.”
And they did—even in the face of a hyped-up Remington crowd.
With Yoder carrying the freight seven times, Hillsboro scored in 11 plays with the senior standout taking it into the end zone from 2 yards out.
Then Brown, scrambling for his life on the 2-point conversion attempt, lofted a pass cross-field into the end zone. Yoder hauled it in for a 27-20 Trojan lead with 6:50 left in the third quarter.
After the two teams traded brief possessions, Yoder made a big play on defense, picking off Cherryholmes to kill a Bronco drive and give the Trojans the ball at their own 35-yard line.
Four plays later, Brown double-pumped, then launched a deep pass toward the Remington sideline. Jost hauled it in for a 58-yard score and a 33-20 lead.
Brown’s kick was blocked by the right goal post, but the Trojans led by two touchdowns with 10:32 left in the game.
As it turned out, Hillsboro needed both scores.
Cherryholmes and his competitive comrades responded with a 75-yard scoring drive in 11 plays. It was Thiessen again on the receiving end of the touchdown toss, this one from 5 yards out and with 3:22 left in the game.
Hillsboro lineman Zach Jost, who had recovered a Cherryholmes fumble earlier in the quarter to kill one Bronco drive, batted down his throw for 2 points. Hillsboro maintained a seven-point spread at 33-26.
The Trojans then ran out the clock, running for two huge first downs to nail down the win and the playoff berth.
Even though Hillsboro grounded Cherryholmes at points, the senior still earned his wings: 27 completions in 49 attempts for 312 yards and three scores.
“He is such a competitor, Coryea said. “He played defensive end and threw the ball around. The guy’s as good as you’ll find. He’s got my vote for all-state. I wouldn’t want to face him again.”
The Trojans’ key to success was a balanced attack. Led by Yoder’s 152 yards on 24 carries, Hillsboro rolled up 267 yards on the ground and added 205 through the year on Brown’s 9-for-15 passing.
For the second game in a row, Jost posted outstanding numbers as a receiver. Coming off a 142-yard game on four catches against Hesston, the junior accounted for 198 yards on seven receptions against Remington.
The victory gave the Trojans a 5-4 season record, but more important, a 2-1 record in the district—good enough to claim the runner-up spot behind Hesston. Remington’s season ended at 7-2.
Hillsboro was to play its bi-district game Tuesday at Sedgwick. A same-night report will be posted on the Free Press Web site (www.hillsborofreepress.com).
The winner of that game will play the winner of the game between Wichita Collegiate (5-4) and Conway Springs (7-2) on Saturday.
If the Trojans are still alive, check the Free Line (947-3363) and the Web site for time and place.