Trojans need OT to move on to playoffs
Two-point conversion sinks Marion, 22-21
Hillsboro High School football coach Len Coryea had seen it before.
When football fans hear the words “The Catch,” the first one that comes to mind is the touchdown from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the 1981 National Football Conference championship.
In Hillsboro, there’s Spencer Brown’s two-point conversion pass to Jake Yoder in overtime which sunk the Cheney Cardinals, 8-7, in bi-district of the 2006 state playoffs.
Two years later, there may be another “catch” Trojan fans might be talking about.
With the Trojans looking down the barrel of a gun Thursday night in Hillsboro against Marion in the battle of Marion County, Ben Gottsch found a wide-open Ben Bebermeyer for a two-point conversion in overtime to seal a 22-21 victory against the Warriors.
The catch sent the Trojans (6-3) into the playoffs for a third straight year.
“I was going to go for two,” an awestruck Coryea said. “What do you say? I’m probably dying right now. We moved the ball; we had a nice mix of stuff and rhythm.
“Our theme this week was stopping somebody. Every time you stop somebody, we get another chance. We made some great catches tonight, we made some great runs.”
Marion can only wonder what the outcome may have been had starting quarterback Mitchell Leppke not broken his hand two days before the game.
Even without Leppke, the Trojans still had their hands full with Sheldon Boone, Drew Maddox, and Marc Washington, giving up 195 total yards — a game-high 112 to Boone.
Gottsch threw for a season-game-high 255 yards on 16-21 passing, while Hillsboro amassed 343 total yards.
Gottsch wasted little time getting the Trojans rolling, going long for Daniel Jost, who had a game-high 148 yards, for a 45-yard touchdown on the third play of the game.
Jacob Wiebe pushed the extra point through, and Hillsboro was in front, 7-0.
Each time somebody pulled ahead, the other team had an answer.
Maddox scored for Marion on second-and-eight with a nine-yard run, and Brian Freuchting connected on the extra point with six minutes, 46 seconds left in the first quarter.
Marion pulled ahead in the second quarter with Washington sweeping around the left side for a 17-yard score.
With 11:51 left in the first half, the Warriors had Hillsboro doubled-up, 14-7.
After a three-and-out by both teams, Gottsch engineered an 18-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 7:36 of the clock.
The Trojans were 2-4 on fourth down — both of them coming on that drive.
Ishmael Morris rolled up 131 total yards — a team-high 102 rushing, 29 yards receiving — snagging a 16-yard catch from Gottsch to give Hillsboro a first-and-goal at the three.
A penalty and the swarming Warrior defense drove the Trojans back six yards.
Hillsboro had the game tied by halftime, though, with Gottsch hitting Jost for his second score of the game on a fourth-and-nine with 14 seconds left in the first half.
Marion had a number of chances to regain the lead in the second half with the help of a pair of Trojan turnovers.
For that matter, Hillsboro did, as well with two of the Trojans’ four second-half drives ending inside the Marion 20.
The Trojans’ best chance to end the game in regulation came with 2:30 remaining as Gottsch twice hit Andy Klassen for a total of 31 yards, giving Hillsboro a fresh set of downs at the Warrior 16.
Boone killed those hopes, though, picking off Gottsch with less than 20 seconds left as Marion ran out the clock to send the game to overtime.
Boone slowly started to close the window on Hillsboro’s playoff hopes, scoring on the first play of overtime to regain the lead for Marion, 21-14.
The Warriors might regret jumping offside on first down, with Morris chopping the lead to a mere point on the ensuing play.
There was little doubt Coryea would go for the win and Bebermeyer made it happen.
“They missed their quarterback (Leppke), but we’ve been beat up all year, we haven’t had the same team all year on the field, we’ve just got to go by different people,” Coryea said. “I knew they were doubling over here, so it was going to go slant.
“They picked Ishmael up, they took one and two away, (Bebermeyer) was the last one. I asked him earlier if he was ready to be a hero tonight, he said he was ready.
“I thought we’d get him with a different pass play. Life can’t be any better tonight because they brought all their people and they want to beat us.”
The Trojans faced the Hutchinson Trinity Celtics Tuesday night in Hutchinson.
Should Hillsboro win, they’ll face either the Douglass Bulldogs or the defending state champion Garden Plain Owls Saturday.
Last modified Nov. 5, 2008