King Morris racks up four touchdowns and 216 yards
Ishmael Morris is just an ordinary kid.
He can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound.
He’s fast but not faster than a speeding bullet, nor does he have superhuman strength, X-ray vision, or wear a cape.
Just don’t get him angry.
Come Friday night in the Trojans’ homecoming game against the winless Sterling Black Bears, Morris might as well have donned a cape.
He scored all four of Hillsboro’s touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 216 yards to help the Trojans (4-1) stave off the victory-starved Black Bears (0-5), 28-14.
“I don’t think we were really that focused the first half. It’s been a while since we’ve been at home,” Morris said. “We were pretty unhappy with the way we played so we came out in the second half real fired up.
“I was pretty angry with how we were playing. We’re definitely going to come out better (next week) than we did [this] week.”
After a stretch of four straight road games to start the year, the Trojans hardly looked glad to be back home the first half.
Starting center Brandon Brown is nursing a wrist injury, leaving back-up Jared King snapping the ball.
Even getting a good snap to quarterback Jacob Fish proved to be a chore with Hillsboro fumbling three times the first half and turning the ball over as many.
Fish had perhaps his roughest outing of the year, throwing one interception, fumbling twice, and getting sacked three times.
“We haven’t given up sacks all year and we couldn’t pick up the linebacker,” Trojan coach Len Coryea said. “You draw it on the board and you say, ‘Guys, this should be working’ and I don’t know. I’ll have to watch the film real hard on this one to see what’s going on.”
While the Black Bears have yet to win a game, they’ve also been without the services of their starting quarterback, Cody Riggs, and Sterling was anything but intimidated.
Who else but homecoming king Morris should get the Trojans rolling?
His big return on the Trojans second drive of the game set them up with excellent field position at the Sterling 36.
Isaac Leihy ripped off an 11-yard run to give Hillsboro first-and-goal at the three, as Morris had his first touchdown on the next play, finding his way in at the 4:27 mark of the first quarter.
Jacob Wiebe tacked on the extra-point, giving Hillsboro a 7-0 lead.
Sterling’s Matt Foster, Riggs, and bruising 240-pound junior fullback Roman Davidson kept the Trojan defense on its heels much of the game.
The Bears moved the ball to Hillsboro’s 32 on their next drive, converting on a fourth-down run by Davidson.
The Trojans caused the drive to stall, holding on fourth-and-five, but the second of back-to-back Hillsboro fumbles eventually cost the Trojans a touchdown.
Nik Darling recovered at the Trojan 14 and Foster cut the lead to 7-6 with a 1-yard score on second-and-short with 9:29 left in the first half. The score stayed 7-6, as Aryn Walton’s PAT kick was too low.
Hillsboro had a good chance to stretch its lead on its next possession, benefiting from a 21-yard run from Morris.
However, the Trojans came away empty-handed, turning the ball over on downs at the Black Bear 17.
Matters continued on a downward spiral for Hillsboro on its next drive with Gabe Dierksen blocking the punt and giving Sterling great field position at the Trojan 44.
Sterling failed to capitalize on the opportunity, though, going nowhere on three plays.
The first half couldn’t have ended on a much worse note than it did for Hillsboro after another fumbled snap.
With the seconds ticking away, and Fish falling to the ground, the quarterback fired right to Sterling’s Jake Dunham, giving the Black Bears momentum heading into the second half and hot on Hillsboro’s heels, 7-6.
Morris had just 40 yards on 10 carries and Fish completed 5-of-12 passes for a mere 55 yards —all to Jost.
The Trojans’ less than flashy first-half outing caused Morris’ blood to boil, and he unleashed his fury on the Black Bears the second half.
He especially took exception after Sterling went up 14-7, storming 85 yards in 10 plays with Foster scoring on a four-yard run before running it in on a two-point conversion.
Morris decided it was time to leap into action, and he did just that, knotting the game at 14, breaking off a 68-yard touchdown run with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
“He (Morris) said I want the ball the second half,” Coryea said. “I told him, ‘We’ll get you the ball.’ In a tight ball game when your pass blocking starts falling apart, you’ve got to run at this level.”
And did Morris ever run.
The senior came out with a 55-yard run to get Hillsboro to the Sterling four-yard line.
After two more carries by Morris, the Trojans had regained the lead with him breaking the plane with another one-yard touchdown.
Wiebe’s PAT kick hit the upright, but Hillsboro was in front 20-14 with 2:33 left in the third quarter.
Sterling got yet another break to either take the lead or tie with Morris committing his only flaw of the night — fumbling on the punt return.
However, Taylor Hagen recorded his second of two sacks on back-to-back drives to help force the Black Bears into a punting situation.
Sterling got all the way to the Hillsboro 10 before getting stood up again on fourth down with the Trojans holding the Black Bears to 155 yards total offense — 132 on the ground.
Sterling didn’t need any more of Morris, but he set up a first-and-goal from the nine with the aid of a 30-yard run.
He put the finishing touches on his career night, powering his way in from three to make it a two-score game for Sterling with 2:27 left.
Fish made for the final score, hitting Jost on the two-point conversion and Ben Gottsch iced the game, picking off Riggs on third-and-long with less than a minute remaining.
The easy part of the Trojans’ schedule is over as they stay at home Friday to take on a good Hoisington Cardinal team.
The Cardinals are coming off a 6-0 loss to Marion.