Hillsboro survives shootout with Knights
Trojans topple Sacred Heart for third-straight win, 45-31
The last time the Trojan football team saw the Salina-Sacred Heart Knights on the gridiron, the Bush administration was sitting on Capitol Hill in 2006.
The result was a Trojan team brimming with senior talent, toppling the hosting Knights in the second round of the 2006 Class 3A state football tournament in frigid Salina.
Twelve years later, the Knights’ luck with the Trojans on the field has yet to change after Friday night’s meeting in Hillsboro.
Hillsboro’s high-powered, senior-led offense was too much for Sacred Heart with the Trojans’ big plays wreaking havoc on the Knights.
The Trojans racked up a third straight win to move to 3-1 on the year, surviving a 45-31 shootout.
Four games into the season, Hillsboro’s already eclipsed its win total from the last three seasons combined.
All season long, the Trojans have displayed just how explosive their offense can be, and they had all guns blazing for the Knights, mainly the trio of quarterback Jorge Hanschu, workhorse back Brooks Gardner, and dangerous wideout Caleb Potucek.
“Brooks, Jorge, and Caleb all had big games again,” Trojan coach Devin Metzinger said. “It’s nice to have so many weapons right now that we can rely on.”
Hot off a huge game a week ago in a win over Haven, Gardner stayed on a rampage, scoring four touchdowns to finish with 206 total yards off a season-high 114 rushing and 92 receiving.
Sacred Heart blew a tire in the game’s first 10 minutes with the Trojans exploding out of the gate for a commanding 27-7 lead.
Three of Gardner’s 4 touchdowns came in the first half, scoring on 10- and 9-yard runs.
Gardner’s biggest, along with a 46-yard run, came with 7:47 to go before halftime.
Hanschu threw for a career-high 326 yards, hooking up with Gardner for a short pass, which turned into an 85-yard touchdown.
Three of Hanschu’s touchdowns passing were for 70 yards or more with Potucek snaring two of them for a career-high 160 yards receiving from five catches.
The Knights were in grave danger of Hillsboro blowing the lid off the contest, stretching its lead as deep as 33-7.
Hillsboro’s engine started cutting out after that and by halftime, the Knights had cut the lead to 33-17 with Jared McCartney going deep for Charlie Skidmore to fuel 17 unanswered points.
Skidmore supplied the other three, booting a 35-yard field goal for the halftime margin.
The Knights had all the momentum, trailing 33-24, after David Anderson scored on a 3-yard quarterback keeper midway through the third quarter.
“We struggled offensively the third quarter to put drives together,” Metzinger said. “We took advantage of some holes and missed assignments early for big plays.
“Once they (Knights) shored that up and made adjustments, it took us a quarter to get readjusted again and go.”
The Trojans’ engine sprang to life again in the fourth quarter with Hanschu hooking up with Potucek for one of the 70-yard completions, stretching the lead back to double digits, 39-24.
Gardner capped off his heroics on the Trojans’ next drive, ripping off a 46-yard run to make it a three-score 45-24 game with 9:11 left.
Quickly there to dim the Trojans’ impressive offensive 475-yard onslaught was Anderson completing 12 passes for 288 yards and Sacred Heart putting up 384 total yards.
Skidmore hauled in three for 122 yards and Trace Leners added five for a team-high 136.
The Trojans close out their long home stand Friday night, hosting winless Wabaunsee.