Trojans hold off surging Wildcats
Hillsboro wins second straight, outlasting Haven 32-24
Trojan football coach Devin Metzinger couldn’t wait for the clock to hit zero Friday night in Hillsboro’s home opener against the Haven Wildcats.
Or for his defense to get a stop on fourth down with the Wildcats knocking on the door at Hillsboro’s 21 with under a minute left and dash any chance of forcing overtime.
It took a fourth down stand for the Trojans to knock out a second straight win against the massive, physical Wildcats, 32-24 and move to 2-1 on the year.
“We tried to do what we could to give them (Haven) as little time as possible,” Metzinger said. “They’re a physical team, they’re a good team, and that offense keeps you guessing. They battled all game long.”
It started out early looking like Haven’s size, combined with nasty humidity and cramping would wear down the smaller, quicker Trojans.
Behind the Wildcats’ NAIA- sized offensive line and perplexing spinner offense, Haven pounded the ball down the Trojans’ throat all night for 311 yards on the ground.
But it was Mario Quintero finding Cory Smith to cap a 12-play 68-yard drive in nearly 5:30 that gave the Wildcats an 8-0 lead on the opening drive.
That came courtesy of a pair of back-to-back encroachment penalties by the Trojans keeping the drive alive on fourth down.
After holding the Trojans to a three-and-out on their opening drive, Haven bulldozed its way into Hillsboro territory with the first quarter winding down.
Darian Ratzlaff ruined the drive, picking off the first of two interceptions to set Hillsboro up at the Wildcat 40.
The Trojans have some physical players of their own, though, particularly quarterback Jorge Hanschu and back Brooks Gardner.
The two hooked up on a third-and-long with Hanschu hitting Gardner for a 68-yard touchdown to even the game at 8-8 after Gardner’s two-point conversion with 10:37 left before the break.
Hanschu racked up 252 total yards completing 9-of-13 passing for 198 yards to go along with his 54 yards rushing.
Hillsboro stretched its lead to 20-8 by halftime with Hanschu firing to Ratzlaff, and Gardner barreling in for touchdowns.
The missed opportunities, paired with three turnovers proved too much with Haven in Hillsboro territory on 9 out of 10 drives.
The Wildcats stayed on the Trojans’ tail, clawing their way to 20-16 heading into the fourth quarter with the 5-4 140-pound Quintero sweeping around the right for a 2-yard score.
The workhorse Gardner added 136 of Hillsboro’s 320 total yards, with 68 each rushing and the same receiving, stretching the Trojan lead to 26-16 with 10:31 to go in the game.
Haven would get closer, yet with Hillsboro fumbling deep in its own territory and the Wildcats recovering at the 18.
Three plays later, Haven was within 26-24 after Nathan Schmidt plunged in from the 1 and Darby Roper’s two-point conversion.
Hanschu preserved the win, taking it in from 5 for the final after Ratzlaff denied a completion on Haven’s last chance.
“We’re happy to get out with a win,” Metzinger said. “Every week there’s a different bright spot and this week, it was Brooks. In the three years I’ve seen him run the ball, he ran his best tonight.”
The Trojans stay home Friday to host Salina-Sacred Heart in a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Last modified Sept. 20, 2018