Hesston safety allows 16-14 escape from Hillsboro
The Trojans shouldn’t hang their heads after dropping a game to the Hesston Swathers.
The Swathers are unbeaten this year, and Hillsboro hasn’t defeated them since Bill Clinton was in the White House — Hesston’s been able to have its way with the Trojans this decade.
Perhaps the hardest pill for the Trojans to swallow in Friday night’s 16-14 loss at Hesston was that Hillsboro had the Swathers walking a tightrope — the biggest scare the Trojans has been able to throw this year.
In spite of the loss, Trojan coach Max Heinrichs had nothing but praise for his team.
“I’m very proud of my team tonight; they played hard,” he said. “We made a couple of mistakes and really when you get down to it on paper, we beat them. We just made some mistakes.
“Our kids came and played with heart, that’s what we wanted them to do. I can’t say anything bad about what happened. We’re just not as quick as they are.”
Even with a fumbled kickoff, which set up the go-ahead touchdown for Hesston late in the first quarter, no mistake loomed any larger than the one in the third quarter with Hillsboro facing a third-and-long.
With the Trojans’ backs nearly in their own end zone, the Swathers’ Matt Weaver ran Hillsboro quarterback Luke Moore out of the end zone, costing the Trojans a safety.
The safety proved to be the deciding factor in allowing Hesston to keep its unbeaten record intact at 4-0 with the Trojans falling to 1-3.
Moore has been pressed for a breakout game, and on Friday night, the 5-foot-9-inch junior got his due, scoring both Hillsboro touchdowns.
Out of the Trojans six first-half possessions, four ended on three-and-outs.
Hillsboro jumped to a 7-0 lead on its second drive with the help of a 27-yard completion from Moore to Ben Bebermeyer on another third-and-long.
The Trojan offensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage the first half, allowing Moore to zip through huge holes for big gains.
Moore made the Swathers pay with just inside 6 minutes remaining in the first quarter, taking off for a 32-yard touchdown run up the middle before Ben Gardner connected on the PAT attempt.
The Hesston offensive line had no way to corral Hillsboro defensive end Dylan Delk, who was in the Swathers backfield all night, sacking quarterback Trevor Pauls three times.
But the Swathers wasted little time responding on the ensuing drive, storming 70 yards in 11 plays, capped by a 5-yard score from Lucas Petrocci.
With 1:32 still to go in the first quarter, Hesston was back in the game, tied at 7-7.
Hillsboro dug itself a hole on the following kickoff, gift-wrapping excellent field position for Hesston by muffing the catch.
Five seconds later, the Swathers doubled up the Trojans with Pauls hitting Evan Roth for a 19-yard touchdown.
Hillsboro had the game tied by halftime despite having its drive hampered by a block-in-the-back call.
Moore carried the ball twice for 14 yards and completed passes to Delk and Caleb Hilliard for 33 yards before slipping in for a 25-yard run to cap an 84-yard drive with 2:19 left in the half.
The score stayed the same, but the Trojans had an ideal chance to re-take the lead on its first drive of the second half.
The Swathers made what proved to be the winning safety with just over 4:30 left in the third, as Hillsboro had to start from inside their own 10.
Neither team threatened again until there was less than 8 minutes left in the game.
The Trojan defense dodged a bullet, holding Hesston on fourth down after it had a first-and-goal.
The Trojans had a first-and-goal themselves after Moore went long for Hilliard on a 75-yard bomb.
Gardner ripped off a gain for 11 yards, but another sack from Weaver left the Trojans looking at a 32-yard field goal attempt by Gardner to recapture the lead.
Gardner’s kick had the distance, only it sailed wide left.
Hillsboro had one last crack with 33 seconds left in the game after its defense caused the Swathers to stall out at Hesston’s own 42.
A pair of back-to-back incompletions by Moore intended for Bebermeyer left the game hanging at a fourth-and-8 at the Swather 40 with 16 to go.
Facing double-coverage, Bebermeyer was unable to haul in the catch, allowing Hesston to survive the scare.
“If you didn’t know us from the past, we’ve made our quarterback an eligible runner,” Heinrichs said. “That changes a lot of things about how people have to prepare for us, it helps take the blitz off us.
“We haven’t had a lot of good luck here, but hopefully we’re going to get it. We can take it and we can go the next level after this one.”
Hillsboro wraps up its two-game road stand Friday, traveling to Kingman for a 7 p.m. kickoff.