Late interception secures win for Hillsboro
Pick-6 gives Trojans 18-14 win over Marion in county battle
Trojan lineman-linebacker Wes Shaw hobbled off the Warrior Stadium field late in the third quarter Friday night and went straight to the Hillsboro bench.
Shaw spent most of what was left of the in-county battle between the Trojans and host Marion there, nursing a foot injury.
He didn’t need much time, though.
With the Warriors looking to convert a fourth-and-long at the Trojan 13, Shaw got his hands on the ball and rumbled 87 yards right down the Marion sideline for the game-winning touchdown, 18-14.
The interception foiled the Warriors’ bid at snapping a three-game slide, preserving Hillsboro’s fourth straight win.
The Trojans improve to 5-1 on the year while Marion drops to 1-5.
“We left it all out there,” a sullen Warrior coach Shaun Craft said. “It’s one of those things where sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t (game-changing play).
“Everything we’d asked the guys to do carried over from practice. We’ve been giving up tons defensively and we had momentum. It hurts to lose, but I’m super proud of the guys and their effort.”
The Warriors were in position to snatch victory out of jaws of defeat, limiting the explosive Trojan offense to a season-low 202 yards.
Marion kept the Trojan offense on the sidelines, dominating the clock over 15 minutes longer.
“What a game by them,” a relieved Trojan coach Devin Metzinger said of the scare. “They were sharp, they were crisp, and they gave us everything we would ever want tonight. You know they have the pieces when they put it together. It was hard to find a hole in their defense tonight.”
Of the Trojans’ four-headed monster of quarterback Jorge Hanschu, back Brooks Gardner, and wideouts Darian Ratzlaff and Caleb Potucek, all but Hanschu were neutralized.
Hanschu supplied the Trojans 154 of their 202 yards, throwing for 68 yards while rushing for 86 with Marion allowing no plays longer than 20 yards.
Gardner was limited to 28 yards from nine carries, but finally got the Trojans on the board with 2:37 left in the first half, plunging in for a 2-yard touchdown.
The Warriors didn’t hesitate responding with Chase Stringer going long for Sam Zinn on a 58-yard reception to have Marion knocking on the door at the 1.
Stringer punched it in on the next play to leave the game deadlocked at halftime, 6-6.
Marion’s momentum continued the second half with Stringer hitting Eli Hett for a 23-yard touchdown and 14-6 lead after Colton Mercer’s two-point conversion run 3:39 into action.
Hillsboro had an answer on the ensuing drive with Michael Potucek’s return setting the Trojans up with their best starting point of the night at Marion’s 40.
Two carries from Hanschu got Hillsboro to the 20 before Hanschu found Caleb to pull to 14-12 with 7:08 to go in the third quarter.
Outside Shaw’s interception, the Warriors’ other chance at pulling the upset went wayside on their next drive.
While the Warriors controlled the clock, it proved to be wasted time with Hillsboro cashing in one of two time-consuming drives with Marion turnovers.
Stringer finished with 262 of the Warriors’ 381 total yards, rushing for a game-high 102 and throwing for 160.
Stringer engineered a grueling 10-play 89-yard drive, which chewed up 8:01, only to have the Warriors fumble it away on third-and-7 at the Hillsboro 11.
After forcing a three-and-out from the recovery, Marion had plenty of time to add to its lead with 9:37 left in the game.
Any chance of that ended 6:14 later with Shaw erasing the Warriors’ 11 plays with the game-winning return.
“Wes is a kid that battles every week for us and I’m happy for him to get that play,” Metzinger said. “It was a great play by him.”
Marion’s final chance at a comeback ended with 1:30 left, allowing the Trojans to run out the clock.
The Warriors continue district play traveling to unbeaten Olpe while Hillsboro travels to Leon to take on Bluestem.