There isn’t a lot to the Hoisington Cardinal offense.
The double wing can be tricky, but they simply come at you with their talented backfield of Carl Hickel and Jeremy Powell, while the big, physical line wears out opponents’ defenses.
That worked to a ‘T’ Friday night against the home Hillsboro High School Trojans, with Hickel supplying all four of Hoisington’s (4-2) touchdowns and a game-high 211 yards in a 28-21 win over Hillsboro (4-2).
The Cardinal duo combined to hit the Trojans for 316 yards with Powell adding 110 more.
The Trojans had one last, but long, shot at tying the game with just less than 30 seconds left, but the Cardinals preserved the victory, recovering the onside kick and running out the clock.
“I was really proud of our efforts,” Trojan coach Len Coryea said. “We could have had two more scores there in the first half, I blew it because these kids played their hearts out tonight and they played hard.
“When you give up as much mismatch in size as we do, our problem was just trying to find the ball because we’re shorter than them. They battled back, we had chances.”
Coryea was able to shrug it off because he knows Hoisington was the last game Hillsboro could afford to lose with district play opening Friday.
The Cardinals did something no other team has been able to do yet this season — keep the MCAA’s top rusher, Trojan standout Ishmael Morris, out of the end zone.
Morris still got his fourth consecutive 100-yard game rushing — going for a quiet team-high 164 — but Hillsboro has proven to be far more effective when he reaches the end zone.
Instead, it was the other half of Hillsboro’s main weapons, Daniel Jost, providing the highlights.
He hauled in all three Trojan touchdowns for a game-high 108-yards from eight catches.
Outside of Morris, nobody else could get going with the other six backs accounting for a meager 12 yards.
Morris has ripped off huge gains all season, however, Hoisington was ready for him than anybody has been, limiting his longest gain to 24 yards.
Jacob Fish threw for a game-high 157 yards, completing 13-23 passes.
Much of his yardage came on Hillsboro’s first score, which appeared to set the tone early — going long to Jost for a 56-yard score with 3:50 left in the first quarter.
Jacob Wiebe was a perfect 3-3 on extra point attempts, putting the Trojans out in front, 7-0.
Hickel was the one peeling off the huge gains, converting fourth-and-inches into a 37-yard rumble to get the Cardinals to the Trojan 36.
Four plays later, Hoisington had tied the game with Hickel barreling ahead for a 27-yard score, 2:58 into the second quarter.
Morris got 57 yards on Hillsboro’s fourth drive, including his longest, and he would’ve made the end zone had the touchdown not been called back for holding.
Fish doubled the Cardinals over, hitting Jost for his second touchdown with 4:36 to go in the half.
Hoisington trimmed the lead to 14-13 right before halftime with Zach Higgins getting a big return on the ensuing kickoff to set up the Cardinals with their best field position of the night at the Hillsboro 29.
Hickel struck again on third-and-goal from the six, but Dustin Mater was unable to tie the game on the PAT with just more than 1:30 left in the first half.
Hillsboro possibly could’ve made it a one-score game by halftime had there been a few more seconds left on the clock.
In arguably one of the biggest plays for the Trojans so far this year, Fish fired a pass to Andy Klassen, which bounced off Cardinal Luke Keener.
Klassen caught the deflection and turned it into a 24-yard gain to get Hillsboro inside the Cardinal 35-yard line.
Fish hit Jost to set up a first-and-goal before the clock ran out with Hillsboro stranded at the four.
The second half was the difference with Hoisington using its physical line to climb into the driver’s seat and take over the lead.
Defensively, the Cardinals held Hillsboro to just 1-6 the second half on third down.
The Cardinals engineered their longest drive of the game, going 67 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a one-yard score from Hickel to start the second half.
With 7:13 left in the third quarter, the Trojans were in a hole they never got out of after Hickel scored on the two-point conversion, making it a 21-14 game.
Three times opportunity knocked on Hillsboro’s door in the second half with the Trojans starting with great field position once again.
Two out of the three times, the Trojans came away empty handed with the drives stalling in Hoisington territory.
By the time Hillsboro was finally able to take advantage on its final drive, Hickel already had added a 15-yard touchdown to make it a two-score game for the Trojans with 10:04 left.
Coryea turned to Ben Gottsch on Hillsboro’s last drive, starting with its best spot of the night — the Hoisington 22 with two minutes remaining.
Facing a fourth-and-long at the 30, Gottsch found Taylor Hagen for a 27-yard completion, setting up first-and-three.
Two plays later, Gottsch’s 10-yard pass to Jost made for the final score.
“As far as efforts, I thought [we] would have to be happy with the way we played tonight. We played as hard as we have in a long time,” Coryea said. “The pass blocking wasn’t as bad as it was last week, we could throw tonight.
“I told the guys that this will be the last time experimenting tonight. This was what I wanted to do though tonight, I wanted to match them and see if we could keep scoring on them.”
District play starts for the Trojans at 7 p.m. Friday when they travel to Gypsum to take on Southeast of Saline.