Trojans overcome deficit to beat Sterling

News editor

After falling behind 14-7 early in the fourth quarter Friday at Sterling, the Hillsboro High School Trojans scored 34 consecutive points to build a lead that Sterling was unable to come back against.

The Trojans scored first by way of a touchdown pass from Jesse Brown to Evan Ollenburger. On the ensuing Sterling possession, Brown broke up a pass on third-and-10.

After Sterling’s punt, the Trojans turned the ball over on a fumble. Sterling quarterback Austin Myers ran the ball in on the Black Bears’ first play after the fumble recovery. A successful 2-point conversion gave the Black Bears an 8-7 lead.

Hillsboro’s next drive stalled, but the Trojans pinned Sterling at the 9-yard line after a favorable roll on a punt. Sterling used a misdirection and trapping-heavy triple option offense to score on another run by Myers, increasing their lead to 14-7.

After a pair of drives came up short, the Trojans recovered a fumble at the Sterling 40-yard line. The Trojans moved the ball with quick passes from Brown. A pass to Cody Delk on fourth down gave the Trojans a first down at the 1-yard line. A slant pass to Delk on second-and-goal gave Hillsboro their second touchdown. After a missed extra point try, the Trojans trailed 14-13.

On Hillsboro’s first drive of the third quarter, Brown scrambled away from the Sterling rush and threw a touchdown to Ollenburger. Another pass to Ollenburger gave Hillsboro a 2-point conversion and a 21-14 lead.

Hillsboro recovered a Sterling fumble on the first play after the ensuing kickoff. On the next play, Brown completed a pass to Ollenburger on a corner route for another touchdown, and the Trojans increased their lead to 28-14.

Brown kicked a pooch kick down the left sideline on the kickoff, and Justus Hilliard recovered it. Despite the favorable field position, the Trojans wouldn’t score on the drive. Sterling was unable to get any momentum when it got the ball, punting again. The Trojans drove to the Sterling 1-yard line but were unable to score on fourth-and-goal.

The teams traded unsuccessful drives until Sterling went for it on fourth-and-two from their own 10-yard line. Hillsboro stuffed the run. With excellent field position, the Trojans scored on a third-down pass to Delk over the middle, gaining a 35-14 lead with 5 minutes, 13 second left in the game. Another turnover on downs by Sterling led to Hilliard running for a 20-yard touchdown, increasing Hillsboro’s lead to 41-14 with 3:54 left in the game.

Sterling returned the kickoff for a touchdown and scored the 2-point conversion, cutting the lead to 41-22. With 2:14 left in the game, Sterling recovered a Hillsboro fumble in the end zone for another touchdwon, making the score 41-30. Jordan Faul recovered Sterling’s onside kick, and the Trojans ran out the clock for the victory.

Head coach Lance Sawyer said it was important for the team, which includes many underclassmen, to get their first victory of the season and realize they can win without a lot of upperclassmen.

“It’s great for these kids,” he said.

Sawyer’s offensive gameplan was to focus on quick passes. Compared to Sterling, the Trojans’ offensive line was undersized, and he didn’t want Brown to have to evade blitzers while waiting for receivers to get open downfield.

Brown completed 33 of 47 passes for 319 yards and 5 touchdowns. Ollenburger was the leading receiver with 13 catches, 121 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Hilliard caught 7 passes for 93 yards; Faul caught 6 for 45 yards; Delk caught 5 for 41 yards and 2 touchdowns; Preston Nelson caught 2 passes for 19 yards.

Until the final minutes, the Trojans’ defense did a much better job of containing Sterling in the second half than in the first. Sawyer said he talked to his players about adjusting for all of the trap runs Sterling was calling. He said David Dick did an especially good job making the adjustment. Dick had 2 solo tackles and 4 assists.

Jakob Hanschu led the defense with 6 solo tackles. Cody Craney had 4 solo tackles and 3 assists. Jesse Meier and Delk each had 4 solo tackles and an assist.

Hillsboro will play at 7 p.m. Friday at Nickerson.

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