Trojans blank Marion for playoff ticket
Hillsboro qualifies for fifth consecutive postseason appearance
With three out of the last four meetings with the Marion Warriors ending in overtime, Trojan coach Max Heinrichs had a good reason to believe the regular season finale Thursday night would indeed be a showdown — especially with postseason implications on the line.
For the first time in four years, the showdown between the Warriors and the Trojans turned out to be a shutout with hosting Hillsboro winning a convincing 22-0 contest.
For the fifth consecutive season, the Trojans advanced to the Class 3A playoffs — the second consecutive under Heinrichs — as the win lifts Hillsboro’s record to 5-4 overall and 2-1 in district 10 play.
“We came out with our original game plan. We came back and did a lot of work Tuesday night (Oct. 26), then we came back on Wednesday (Oct. 27) in pads and changed what we were going to do,” Heinrichs said. “I just sat there and kept watching film and watching film and really what they (Marion) do is run the inside veer.
With the Trojans neutralizing Les Riggs and, for that matter, the Warriors’ entire running game, Marion was hard pressed to establish offense.
The Trojan defense made sure of that, holding Riggs to a modest 40 yards on 16 carries and Marion to just 117 from 39 carries.
Marion’s best offense came through the air with Dillon Richmond completing three of four passes to Cole Lewman for a game-high 79 yards — 85 yards total.
Despite going three-and-out on all three of their drives in the first quarter, the Warriors still had plenty of chances to score, getting inside the Trojan 25 three times.
In the meantime, the Trojans played as balanced an offensive game as they have this year, finishing with 162 yards rushing and 158 passing.
Playing his final home game of his high school career, Chance Reece finished with a game-high 147 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns.
The game had the looks of a defensive struggle early, but Hillsboro had an ideal chance to take the lead in the first quarter with a first-and-goal from the 7 aided by Luke Moore firing to Devin Dick for a 43-yard gain.
Moore completed 50 percent of his passes on 8-of-16 with three going to Ben Bebermeyer for a team-high 59 yards.
That drive came away empty with Riggs blocking Ben Gardner’s 26-yard field goal attempt with less than 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Warriors spotted Hillsboro a touchdown with Bebermeyer intercepting Richmond and gave the Trojans the ball at their own 40.
Moore ripped off a 22-yard gain, Reece added a 12-yarder, and one play later, Reece busted through for a 9-yard score with less than 7 minutes left in the first half.
Gardner’s PAT kick went through, and Hillsboro was on top, 7-0.
Marion had a chance to knot the game before the break, storming 66 yards in 11 plays to set up a first-and-goal from the 10.
The Trojans dashed that though, when the Warriors turned the ball over on downs.
Moore helped push the lead to 10-0 just before halftime, hitting Bebermeyer for a 39-yard gain.
Hillsboro could only get a field goal out of the drive after first-and-goal at the 8.
Gardner pushed through a 25-yarder with eight seconds left on the clock.
The lead grew to 16-0 with Marion running into Reece on a punt to start the second half and extend the drive.
Reece made the Warriors pay on the ensuing play, taking off for a 45-yard touchdown with 9:34 left in the first half.
Marion again had a chance to cut into the lead with Richmond going long to Lewman on a 40-yard reception.
That drive stalled at the 12 with the Warriors again turning it over on fourth down — their last and best chance to score.
Marion’s miseries continued with Bebermeyer picking off Richmond for the second time in the third quarter and bungling a kick inside their own 20 in the fourth.
Caleb Hilliard recovered and the Trojans tacked on their final touchdown with Moore finding Gardner for an 18-yard score.
Gardner’s PAT with 8:45 left in the game sailed wide right for the final score.
“That makes a big deal for them once 33 is out of the game,” Heinrichs said. “Grant (Thierolf, Marion’s coach) has a great team. They’re well coached; they played hard; they hit us hard.
“It was a fun game again. I liked last year’s, too, but I hate to lose. It was just a good high school game.”
Last modified Nov. 4, 2010