The Hillsboro High School Trojans football team defeated the Hesston High School Swathers, 33-23 Friday during Hesston’s homecoming festivities.
After the game, fans were treated to a fireworks display, but the biggest fireworks came in the third quarter. After Hesston scored a touchdown to cut the Trojans’ lead to 20-17, Hillsboro’s Shaq Thiessen returned the kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Thiessen weaved through the coverage before racing the defense to the end zone.
“Nobody can race Shaq to the end zone,” head coach Lance Sawyer said.
Sawyer said the touchdown return, the first of Thiessen’s career, was a critical play because it put momentum back in Hillsboro’s hands.
The Trojans didn’t always have the momentum. The Swathers moved quickly on their opening possession, scoring a touchdown in the first 75 seconds of the game.
“They caught us off balance with that no huddle they came out with,” Sawyer said. “The guys kept playing, showed a lot of heart.”
Hillsboro’s first drive came up short in the red zone, with a fourth-and-7 pass failing from the 23-yard line. But on the Swathers’ next play, Tyrell Thiessen recovered a fumble for the Trojans. With a second chance and a short field, quarterback Tyler Proffitt evened the score at 7 with a 4-yard run.
Hesston took the lead again, 10-7, with a field goal in the second quarter, but Hillsboro finished the half strong. The Trojans used almost 7 minutes of the quarter, driving 90 yards to score when Proffitt connected with Shaq Thiessen on third-and-goal from the 17-yard line.
The Trojans forced a quick three-and-out from Hesston. After a good punt return by Shaq Thiessen, Proffitt completed passes to Josh Wiebe, Evan Ollenburger, and Shaq Thiessen. Tyrell Thiessen scored a receiving touchdown with 27 seconds left in the first half on a screen pass from the 10-yard line.
The Trojans’ fans were upset that the team didn’t get another chance to score before halftime, when the officials called what might have been a fumble recovered by Hillsboro as an incomplete pass.
After trading touchdowns in the third quarter, Hillsboro added an insurance score early in the fourth quarter. Tyrell Thiessen rushed for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, bringing the lead to 33-17.
The Trojans turned away a couple of fourth-down attempts from Hesston to keep the lead at 16. In the final minute of the game, Hesston quarterback Wyatt McKinney threw a desperation shovel pass before he could be sacked on third-and-10, and running back Ryan Schadler took the ball 43 yards to set up the Swathers’ final score with 14 seconds on the clock.
The game was sealed when the two-point conversion attempt failed, keeping the lead at 10. After an onside kick attempt failed, Hillsboro lined up in the “victory” formation and kneeled with the ball.
Sawyer said he was pleased with his team’s pass defense, despite allowing 289 passing yards to McKinney. He said he knew going into the game that Hesston was good in the passing game. The Trojans held McKinney to under 50 percent completions for the game.
Proffitt: 18-31, 186 yards, 2 TDs.
Shaq Thiessen: 0-2, 0 yards.
Tyrell Thiessen: 9 attempts, 59 yards, 1 TD.
Profitt: 23 attempts, 57 yards, 1 TD.
Ollenburger: 5 attempts, 30 yards.
S. Thiessen: 1 attempt, 26 yards.
Lucas Sinclair: 1 attempt, 0 yards.
S. Thiessen: 5 receptions, 54 yards, 1 TD.
Ollenburger: 4 receptions, 48 yards.
T. Thiessen: 4 receptions, 21 yards, 1 TD.
Wiebe: 3 receptions, 36 yards.
Lucas Sinclair: 2 receptions, 27 yards.
Jesse Brown: 3-4 extra points.
S. Thiessen: 3 punt returns, 86 yards; 4 kick returns, 142 yards, 1 TD.