Sterling knocks off Trojans, 22-12
It was homecoming Friday when Hillsboro hosted the Sterling Black Bears. Unfortunately, the Trojans lost to the Bears, 22-12.
The loss drops Hillsboro to 1-2 on the year while Sterling lifted its mark to 2-1.
“I think they just played better defense than we thought they could,” Trojan coach Max Heinrichs said. “Their defensive backs are very good. They’re aggressive; they shut us down at the line of scrimmage so we really couldn’t even get by them.
“You’ve got a 6-5 guy (Guy Oden) rushing up the middle. We couldn’t get a lot of passes off. Their outside ends were pretty good and they ran the guy up in the middle and it just caused us some problems.”
Hillsboro’s second drive was after the first one ended on three-and-out.
Backed up deep in their own territory, Hillsboro was on the doorstep of disaster after Sterling blocked Chance Reece’s punt.
The Black Bears recovered in the Trojan end zone and Seth Humphreys hit Trea Lott on the two-point conversion to grab an 8-0 lead, 4 minutes, 11 seconds into the game.
One week after busting loose for more than 230 yards rushing, the Trojans were held to 74 on the ground and a total of 182.
The Sterling defense kept the Trojans offense at bay until the second half, limiting the Trojans to a modest three first downs and 0-for-8 on third down.
What’s more, the Black Bears’ punting kept the Trojans in dreadful field position the entire first half.
Of its eight drives, Hillsboro’s starting point was on its own 24-yard line.
The score stayed at 8-0 at halftime with both defenses battling it out.
It was the Hillsboro defense that kept the Black Bears at arm’s length, yielding just 172 yards total with the ground game accounting for 126.
Sterling stretched its lead to two touchdowns to start the second half. The Black Bears stormed 72 yards in nine plays, aided by two big Trojan pass interference calls, with Bryant Patterson scoring on a 1-yard run.
The two-point conversion attempt was no good, but Sterling was still too far ahead for Hillsboro to catch.
The Trojans came to life in the second half, getting great field position on the ensuing kickoff on a late hit by the Black Bears.
Luke Moore completed two passes on the drive to Ben Bebermeyer and Caleb Hilliard for a combined 25 yards, and Hilliard pulled the Trojans within eight, two plays later with a 4-yard TD.
Bebermeyer’s six catches for a game-high 68 yards and Hillard’s 11 carries for 44 led Hillsboro’s offense with Moore passing 9-for-15.
Kicking has been a struggle for the Trojans so far, and it continued to be with Ben Gardner’s PAT kick sailing wide right.
Hillsboro had a chance to pull closer after Hilliard intercepted Humphreys on Sterling’s next drive at the Black Bear 39.
The Trojans took that drive all the way to the Sterling 18 early in the fourth quarter, but three consecutive incomplete passes left Hillsboro attempting a 35-yard field goal.
Gardner’s kick missed, lacking the distance against a moderate south breeze.
The Trojans got a big shift in momentum on Sterling’s next drive with Bebermeyer intercepting a pass and returning it to the Black Bear 20.
Five plays later, Moore hit homecoming king Dylan Delk for a 6-yard touchdown with 5:06 left in the game.
In an attempt to knot the score at 14 with a two-point conversion, Moore’s pass was incomplete.
The game crumbled after the Trojan defense forced Sterling to punt with less than three minutes left in the game.
Facing a second-and-10 at the Hillsboro 14, Bebermeyer lost the ball with Sterling recovering at the 19.
Alex Burgess put the game away for Sterling, scoring on a 3-yard run with 12 seconds left, making it a two-possession game after Humphreys found Kirk Engelland for the two-point conversion.
“We didn’t make plays again,” Heinrichs said. “They were there, we just didn’t make them. I’m not blaming anybody here; it’s just the way it goes.
“They ran the ball well. We knew they would; they’re physical. We just didn’t make plays when we needed to.”
Hillsboro’s road to recovery gets no easier this Friday, as the Trojans travel to Hesston. Friday’s game is set to kick off at 7 p.m.