The win snapped a four-game losing streak and improved the Trojans? season record to 2-4 while keeping the Lions winless at 0-6.
?This is getting back to what we need to do,? coach Lance Sawyer said of the win. ?Confidence-wise, it was huge. We gained a lot of confidence from last week against Smoky (in a one-point loss), just realizing we could play with a team like that. We did get better, and this was a huge win for us.?
Playing in a chilly and damp north wind, both teams got off to a sluggish start offensively. That changed suddenly when quarterback Justus Hilliard broke off a 34-yard touchdown run along the home sideline with 4:10 left in the first quarter. Jeff Jorgenson kicked the first of his five extra points for a 7-0 lead.
Hillsboro then recovered a Jorgenson pooch kick to set up at the Lyons 32-yard line, but could not cash in the opportunity for a score.
On the fourth play of Lyons? next possession, Hilliard grabbed the first of his three interceptions against Lyons quarterback Tyler Edwards. When the offense stalled, Jorgenson?s wind-aided 42-yard field goal attempt fell a mere yard or two short.
The two teams then traded possessions, but a punt by Hillsboro?s Josh Funk pinned the Lions at their 6-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, the center snap sailed over Edwards? head. The Lions covered the ball in the end zone, but the safety gave Hillsboro a 9-0 lead with 8:55 left in the half.
The Trojans quickly cashed in two more touchdowns, the first on a 25-yard run by Hilliard at 8:19, followed by a 44-yard interception return by Jakob Han?schu on the third play of Lyons? ensuing possession.
In a span of 1:36, the Trojan lead had increased from 7-0 to 23-0.
Hilliard protected that spread near halftime when he intercepted his second pass, killing a Lyons drive at the Trojan 7-yard line with 38.1 seconds to play.
Hilliard intercepted his third pass on the first possession of the third quarter. Hillsboro didn?t score as a result, but after Lyons got the ball back on a punt, Trojan lineman Levi Men?doza snagged an Edwards pass for the Trojans? fifth pick. This time, Hillsboro scored in five plays when Hilliard crossed the goal line from a yard out on a quarterback sneak with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
With a 30-0 lead, the outcome was well in hand, but Hilliard added an insurance touchdown on a 14-yard run with 14.8 seconds left in the third quarter.
With a 37-0 lead, the running clock kicked in for the rest of the game. The Lions avoided a shutout with a 5-yard pass from Edwards to Jacob Buchman with 8:45 left in the contest.
?Our defense played great,? Sawyer said. ?We were forcing turnovers. If we continue to do that we can go a long ways.?
Despite the lopsided score, the teams played to a near draw offensively. Hillsboro maintained a 229-215 edge on the strength of the running game. Hilliard accounted for 150 of the Trojans? 172 rushing yards.
The Trojan quarterback did struggle through the air on, completing only four of 16 attempts for 57 yards.
?Our offense has got to get a little better, but Lyons? defense just came?they were blitzing everybody,? Sawyer said.
Coming?Hillsboro will begin district play Friday when they travel to Hesston to take on the undefeated Swathers (6-0).
?We?re excited about it,? Coach Lance Sawyer said. ?This group of guys believe in themselves now. I think we know we have a shot. That?s all we?re hoping for.?
Hillsboro?s path to the state playoffs will be challenging. Beyond Hess?ton, Southeast of Saline and Council?Grove enter district play with 5-1 records.