Hillsboro stayed with a physical Smoky Valley team for the first half of the Trojans’ homecoming game on Friday, but the second half quickly got away from them in what ended up as a 50-14 mugging at Joel Wiens Stadium.
The Trojans allowed only two touchdowns against the Vikings’ relentless ground attack in the first half—the first on 3-yard run by Cort Elliot with 2:34 left in the opening quarter, and the second on a 15-play, 68-yard drive to start the second quarter. Elliott scored again, this time from 2 yards out. Hillsboro stopped Smoky’s 2-point conversion play after each touchdown.
Trailing 12-0, Hillsboro got a huge momentum boost late in the first half when Smoky fullback Riley Odell fumbled the football and Hillsboro recovered it at the Smoky Valley 40-yard line with 1:54 remaining. The Trojans scored in four pass plays, the final one a 19-yarder to Jacob Funk for the touchdown with 1:07 remaining. Wes Shaw’s kick made it 12-7 at halftime.
The momentum the Trojans took into halftime popped like a ballon when Smoky returned the second-half kickoff all the way back for a touchdown. A block-in-the-back penalty nullified the apparent score and put the ball at the Trojan 26-yard line. Three plays later, Viking workhorse back Kyle Anderson was in the end zone anyway at the 10:53 mark.
“It takes the wind out of your sails a little bit,” coach Devin Metzinger said about the long run back. “We stayed after it, but it definitely took the wind out of the sails for what we had rolling in the second half. That’s another learning step we have to take.”
Following the kickoff, Hillsboro controlled the football for 16 plays and nearly 6 minutes before the drive stalled at the Smoky 22-yard line with a turnover on downs.
The Vikings penetrated the end zone 10 plays later on a 5-yard run by Anderson with 37 seconds left in the third period. Smoky’s successful 2-point conversion pass gave the Vikings a 28-7 lead as the quarter ended.
The Trojans appeared to have new life when Kleiner connected with Caleb Potucek for a 66-yard pass on the second play of the fourth quarter that put the Trojans on the Smoky 22-yard line. Kleiner connected with Potucek again on the very next play for the touchdown. Shaw’s kick made it 28-14 with 11:22 left in the game.
Unfortunately, Smoky Valley seemed to score almost at will during the final quarter, cashing in three touchdowns before the final gun.
Viking quarterback Brett Heitschmidt scored on a 17-yard run at the 7:05 mark, then an interception by Lane Schrag set up a two-play scoring drive with Tim Lambert running in from 38 yards out.
On the Trojans’ ensuing possession, Zion Thomas picked off a Kleiner pass and ran it back 45 yards for “the final score of the night.
“This team is learning how to play 48 minutes, learning how to stick in there and deal with physicality,” coach Devin Metzinger said afterward. “I felt like tonight was a big step in that direction.
“The biggest thing we learned tonight is that we can be physical, we can stand toe-to-toe with the ‘big boys’ and be physical with them.”
The loss dropped Hillsboro to 1-3 for the season while Smoky Valley improved to 3-1. The Trojans will take on another challenging foe when they host Halstead next Friday at Joel Wiens Stadium.