The Hillsboro High School Trojans football team came from behind by two touchdowns to take a lead against the Moundridge Wildcats Friday, but the Wildcats made their own comeback and Hillsboro lost 40-35.
Moundridge took more than six minutes on its opening drive, scoring a touchdown without throwing a single pass to take a 7-0 lead. Hillsboro responded with a three-play touchdown drive that took less than a minute with Jesse Brown throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Jordan Faul, and the game was tied at 7.
Moundridge scored another touchdown on its next drive on a pass from Garrett Higgins to Colby Badman on fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line. Hillsboro punted on its next possession, and Badman ran 54 yards on the Wildcats’ first play, giving Moundridge a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Thirty seconds later, Hillsboro cut the deficit to 21-14 on a 55-yard pass from Brown to Faul. It would be more than 10 minutes before either team scored again.
A Trojans drive started off promising, with Evan Ollenburger catching a ball just barely in bounds on third-and-9, then making another reception for a first down on a screen pass. But on back-to-back plays, a backward pass fell to the ground and the Wildcats nearly recovered it before Preston Nelson fell on the ball, then on third-and-25, a trick play pass was intercepted.
The Hillsboro defense stopped Moundridge, but the Wildcats recovered a muffed punt return. The Wildcats were in good position to score, but Hillsboro forced and recovered a fumble at the Trojans’ own 15-yard line.
Brown converted third-and-1 with a quarterback sneak before completing a 61-yard pass to Justus Hilliard, setting the Trojans up with first-and-goal at the 8.
On first down, Brown scrambled away from the pass rush and completed a short shovel pass that lost 14 yards. The Trojans made up the lost yardage and more when Ollenburger caught a pass and got to the 3-yard line. On third-and-goal, Brown ran a sneak that was good for two yards. Another sneak on fourth down resulted in a fumble, but Cody Delk fell on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game at 21 with 47 seconds left in the first half.
After halftime, Hillsboro scored again on a 17-yard pass from Brown to Delk. When the Trojans stopped the Wildcats on fourth-and-4, it looked like Hillsboro had all the momentum. But the Trojans struggled to move the ball on their next possession and punted back to Moundridge, who scored with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter to tie the game again.
Hillsboro responded with another touchdown drive that included a fourth-and-4 middle screen to Ollenburger. Hillsboro scored on third-and-goal at the 2 with a swing pass to Nelson, who got a crucial block from Levi Mendoza. Hillsboro led 35-28.
Twelve seconds later, the Wildcats scored again with a 65-yard touchdown run by Badman, but Hillsboro kept the lead when Badman’s kick missed. Hillsboro’s Leo Sontag was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points.
A long kickoff return by Hilliard set the Trojans up in Moundridge territory, but a low snap led to a sack of Brown. A pass on third-and-25 was just out of reach of Ollenburger.
The Wildcats drove 68 yards on their next possession, finishing the drive with a reverse to Badman for an 18-yard touchdown. The Trojans stopped the two-point conversion attempt, but Moundridge led 40-35.
Hillsboro’s final possession ended with an interception on a long pass down the sideline, when the receiver didn’t see the ball until it was too late to make a play.
“We (the coaches) made the mistake,” head coach Lance Sawyer said.
He said that was a play the team hadn’t run in practice.
Sawyer said the cold conditions — it had snowed earlier in the day — may have affected Hillsboro’s passing attack more than Moundridge’s running offense, but both teams had miscues.
The loss started the Trojans at 0-1 in district play. They play Friday at Marion then Oct. 31 at home against Halstead.
“We’ve still got a chance,” Sawyer said.
Jesse Brown: 18/29, 293 yards, 4 TDs.
Jordan Faul: 0/2.
Preston Nelson: 4 carries, 8 yards.
J. Brown: 12 carries, 4 yards.
J. Faul: 5 receptions, 106 yards, 2 TDs.
Evan Ollenburger: 6 receptions, 78 yards.
Justus Hilliard: 2 receptions, 73 yards.
Cody Delk: 2 receptions, 26 yards.
P. Nelson: 3 receptions, 10 yards.
J. Hilliard: 4 kick returns, 57 yards.
E. Ollenburger: 2 kick returns, 33 yards.
Jakob Hanschu: 1 kick return, 32 yards; 1 punt return, 9 yards.