Trojans give Swathers close call
Cheers of joy might have rang out earlier in the week when the Hillsboro Trojans caught word that the football season’s opening opponent, Hesston, would be without its starting quarterback, Cameron Cox.
Spearheading an explosive 1-2 punch in the Swather backfield, Cox left Hesston with only one weapon in Friday night’s home opener.
That ‘one weapon’ just happened to be one of the state’s premier players in the electrifying speedster, tailback Parker Roth.
Far from the blowout the Swathers have dealt the Trojans in the past, too much Roth was the difference with top-10 Hesston holding off Hillsboro, 42-36.
“We’re happy with a lot of things tonight,” Trojan coach Devin Metzinger said. “Putting 36 points on a good Hesston team is a lot to feel good about, and we had kids that had to play a little bit out of position.
“They grew, got better and we had some young kids jump in and do what they had to do. It was good stuff and there were definitely positives. For a loss, it’s about as positive as it can be.”
One was a strong south wind spotting whichever team headed north excellent field position.
The Trojans capitalized on the short field, too, grabbing a 6-0 lead on their opening drive with quarterback Jorge Hanschu hitting Brooks Gardner for a 26-yard touchdown with 6:59 left in the first quarter.
The Swathers wouldn’t stay down long, turning to one of Class 3A’s fastest, Roth, to break up the shutout on his first of four touchdowns.
Roth alone outdid the Trojans’ total yardage rushing, running rampant for a game-high 201 yards on 12 carries.
Hanschu paced the Trojans rushing with a team-high 77 of 180 total on the ground from 26 carries.
Behind Hanschu’s 258 yards passing, including 138 to wideout Darian Ratzlaff, the Trojans hung 447 total yards on the Swathers’ stout defense that harassed Hanschu in the backfield.
Grady Toews scored on a two-point conversion and Hesston was in front 8-6 with 5:41 to go in the first quarter.
Hillsboro wasted no time responding, regaining the lead on its second drive with Hanschu hooking up with Ratzlaff for a 23-yard go-ahead touchdown to cap a 50-yard drive with 2:27 left in the quarter.
The Trojans were a respectable 3-for-5 on third down conversions the first quarter, 63 percent on the night, but quickly there to muffle it was the 2-for-5 on PAT attempts, unable to better a 12-8 score.
Hesston climbed back into the driver’s seat for good with just over 1:00 left in the high scoring first quarter, 14-12, on its next possession with quarterback Jacob Eilert finding Toews for a 28-yard score.
Roth showed his speed with 7:11 left in the first half, breaking loose for an 85-yard touchdown on a fourth and one and a 20-12 lead.
Toews stretched the lead to 26-12 by halftime, scoring on a 10-yard completion with 1:32 remaining in the half.
The Trojans redeemed themselves after going three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, recovering a Swather fumble.
Hillsboro used the turnover to stay hot on Hesston’s tail with Hanschu firing to Caleb Potucek for a 17-yard touchdown on fourth down and Ratzlaff on the PAT attempt to pull to 26-20 with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
Roth made sure Hillsboro got no closer than 6, putting the Swathers back in front by two scores with a 17-yard run of his own. It was 34-20 late in the third quarter.
The Trojans still wouldn’t stay down, though. Hanschu went long for Ratzlaff for a 43-yard touchdown and cut the lead 34-28 with 3:40 left in the game.
Roth put the game out of reach with 1:50 to go, ripping off a 45-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive, stretching Hesston’s lead to 42-28.
Hillsboro still had life left, though, and Hanschu connected with Dillon Boldt late in the game and scored on the two-point conversion for the final mark.
The Trojans face another road test Friday, traveling to Lyons for a 7 p.m. kickoff.