Fourth quarter fade doesn’t dim future hopes
Hillsboro traveled to Council Grove on Friday with the same resolve it took into eight prior games: to win. Each of those games they lost.
The Trojans discovered this season that resolve isn’t always enough when you’re long on youth, short on experience, and riddled with injuries, and the final win they sought eluded them, as the Braves won 40-24.
But this time, that resolve kept victory in sight through three quarters, giving Hillsboro fans good reason to exit saying, “Just wait until next year.”
Hillsboro’s defense set the tone early by shaking itself of the habit of giving up opening-drive touchdowns. The Trojans held the Braves off the scoreboard until 21 seconds remained in the first quarter, and Council Grove needed a deceptive 25-yard reverse to break out on top 8-0.
But the Trojans weren’t going to let this one get away easily. Quarterback Jorge Hanschu capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring strike to Carson Herbel. The Braves blocked the extra point, keeping an 8-6 lead.
While Hillsboro couldn’t mount another first half scoring drive, the defense did its part by holding Council Grove to a field goal.
After the Braves extended their lead on the opening drive of the third quarter to 19-6, Hillsboro was ready to make a game of it once more.
Starting from their own 46-yard line, the Trojans put together a 12-play drive over the next six minutes, culminating with Hanschu’s second touchdown pass, this one to Joe Knoll. The score remained 19-12 after the extra-point attempt was blocked.
It took just 40 seconds for Hillsboro to turn up the heat another notch.
Getting the ball back on a fumble recovery, Hanschu wasted no time connecting with Braden Vogt on a 63-yard bomb to pull the Trojans within 1 point, 19-18. A bid to take the lead fizzled as Hanschu’s 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
It was as close as the Trojans would come. Hanschu got knocked out of the game with an injury, and the Braves owned the fourth quarter, scoring three quick touchdowns to take an insurmountable 40-18 lead.
But as they did all season, Hillsboro battled on, with Braden Vogt scoring on a 7-yard pass from Kaden Kleiner to account for the final points of the game.
Hillsboro closed the season winless in nine games.