Hillsboro homecoming spoiled by first loss for Trojans
Hillsboro’s second-half rally falls short in 16-13 defeat by Lyons
Throughout this decade, one team that continues to puzzle the Trojans is the Lyons Lions.
Even with teams thought to be the Lions’ best, Hillsboro has always been able to emerge the victor.
Despite being off to a quick 3-0 start, Hillsboro had yet to see a player quite as explosive as the Lions’ do-it-all quarterback Jake Craig, or a team with a defense as stiff.
That added up to the Trojans’ first defeat of the season Friday night as 174 total yards from Craig and two touchdowns ruined Hillsboro’s homecoming with a 16-13 loss.
Not only was it the Trojans’ first loss of the season, not to mention the first of this decade, it was also coach Max Heinrichs’ first loss to Lyons — dating all the way to the 1990s.
“We knew we were playing a pretty good team,” Heinrichs said. “We knew we had a tough kid there (Craig) and our goal was to keep wearing and pounding on him and it finally showed up. He’s as good as we’ll see probably.”
By the time the Trojans defense finally achieved its goal, it was too late.
Heinrichs can only wonder what could have been had the Trojans done something offensively first.
The Trojans had to rely mainly on the run in the first half, picking up a season-low 78 yards on the night.
Hillsboro managed just three first downs in the first half, spotting Lyons’ great field position with a fumble at the Trojans’ 43, recovered by Robbie Bieler.
Craig got five of his 37 carries for a game-high of 155 yards on Lyons’ opening drive, picking up gains of 15 and 12 yards, to set up first-and-goal from the 5.
Craig’s first of two scores put Hillsboro in a 7-0 rut, 4:49 into the game.
Homecoming king Jacob Fish was pressured all night by the swarming Lion defense, completing 14-for-36 passing for 178 yards.
What’s more, Hillsboro had to contend with a long field the entire first half, never starting a drive closer than its own 32, and getting no closer to midfield than the 48.
The Lions kept the Trojan offense on the sidelines, using time-consuming drives to open a 13-0 lead with Craig scoring on a 1-yard quarterback-keeper.
Craig’s only flaw of the game came on the PAT attempt, which sailed wide right.
In the most disastrous first half for Hillsboro to date, the Trojans gift-wrapped a great chance for Lyons to extend the lead with Biehler blocking a punt at the Trojans’ 38.
The Trojans averted catastrophe though, holding Lyons to a 20-yard field goal from Craig to make it a 16-0 game by halftime.
Lyons had one more chance to widen the gap just before the break with the Trojans turning the ball over on downs at their own 23.
Craig’s 32-yard field goal attempt didn’t have the distance to give Hillsboro momentum.
As rough as the first half started for Hillsboro, the Lions endured the same to start the second.
Jacob Edwards intercepted Craig in the Trojans’ territory and a personal foul on Lyons had Hillsboro threatening at the Lions’ 21.
Facing a fourth-and-goal at the 9, Fish found Edwards in traffic to break up the shutout.
The Trojans tried to saw the lead in half by going for two, but Fish’s pass was incomplete, leaving the score 16-6 nearly five minutes into the second half.
Edwards and Ben Bebermeyer combined for 149 yards receiving and both Trojan touchdowns, with Edwards’ game-high 75 yards.
Hillsboro had another chance to inch closer as the defense held the Lions to their first of a trio of three-and-outs on the next drive.
Fish went long for Bebermeyer for a 30-yard completion to get to the Lions’ 20.
However, Hillsboro couldn’t finish the drive, stalling at the 10.
The Lions came storming back, with Craig breaking free for his biggest gain of the night — 34 yards — to give Lyons a first down at the 24.
Craig carried the ball five consecutive times, driving all the way to the 1, before the Trojans turned the Lions away on fourth down.
While Hillsboro has had some good drives so far this season, arguably their biggest one was about to happen.
Fish authored a 10-play, 99-yard drive, completing 6-for-9 passing, including a 43-yard bomb to Edwards to get the Trojans out of danger.
With just under five minutes left in the game and Hillsboro looking at a third-and-10, Fish found Bebermeyer for a 24-yard touchdown to make it a 16-13 score.
Then the Trojan defense finally started to wear down Craig, holding the Lions to back-to-back 3-and-outs.
Unfortunately, Fish’s magic vanished, going a rough 1-for-11 the final two drives with Hillsboro’s only first down coming from a Lyons’ pass interference call.
The first drive ended with Tyler Stonebreaker picking off a pass at the Lions’ 45 and Hillsboro was finally done-for after turning the ball over on downs at their own 29.
“Our kids hung in there and played well though. They kept getting after it,” Heinrichs said. “We saw a couple of things right at the end of the half we made adjustments to and we were able to run the ball better right away.
“It gave us a little more confidence, and once we got the running game going, we were able to pass a little more effectively. I don’t think we did either very well; it was one of those nights.”
The Trojans will face an away Friday, traveling to struggling Sterling for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Last modified Sept. 30, 2009