Warriors win in overtime, but Trojans advance to postseason
Hillsboro defeats Sedgwick Tuesday, will play Collegiate Saturday
Talk about losing a battle, but winning a war.
Hillsboro Trojans did their best but lost in an overtime thriller to Marion.
The Marion Warriors needed two things to happen Thursday in the regular season finale in Marion to keep their postseason chances alive.
Not only did the Warriors have to beat the undefeated district-leading Trojans, they also had to do it convincingly by 12 points or more. On top of that, a struggling Herington team had to defeat Southeast of Saline.
Marion did beat Hillsboro, but it was only by a 21-20 margin in overtime, and SES demolished Herington.
For the fourth consecutive year, the district-champion Trojans will move on to the postseason, having eliminated the Warriors for the second straight season.
Both teams finished with identical records of 2-1 in district play and 6-3 overall.
Ethan Frantz’s PAT kick in overtime thwarted Hillsboro’s bid to complete district play unbeaten, but the kick sailed wide right.
Marion’s Brian Fruechting made the Warriors’ PAT kick, dashing the Trojans’ bid for that.
“I’m disappointed and the kids are disappointed. That’s what makes me more proud of them than anything,” a discouraged Trojan coach Max Heinrichs said. “They (Marion) played hard, we came and played hard, I think we took away each other’s strengths and still played well.
“Golly, if we could’ve just hit that kick, we could’ve had another shot.”
For the second year in a row, the Hillsboro-Marion game went into overtime. Last season ended with Hillsboro prevailing by an identical 21-20 score.
The Warriors and the Trojans are complete opposites.
Marion coach Grant Thierolf’s teams are known for their powerful ground attack of Sheldon Boone, Drew Maddox, and Matt Sprowls, while their physical defense beats up opponents.
The Trojans have relied on their passing game much of the year with Jacob Fish having a three-headed monster in wideouts Jacob Edwards, Ben Bebermeyer, and Taylor Hagen.
The misting rain and damp field made it difficult for either team to be as effective as they could be.
“I was more worried about the wind than the rain,” Heinrichs said. “On offense, what I like is that we know where we’re going which help us with our cuts. They did a nice job of covering us up and did a lot of things to us that caused us some problems.”
Fish completed just 11 out of 26 passes for 216 yards, both touchdowns going to senior tight end Taylor Hagen.
Bebermeyer hauled in three catches for a game-high 111 yards, Hagen caught four for 48, and Edwards had four more for 57.
Marion’s ground game chewed up 340 yards with Maddox carrying 15 times for a game-high 169 yards and Boone carrying 24 times for 149.
The Trojans struggled for good production on the ground, carrying 24 times for 52 yards with Chance Reece getting 16 of the carries for a team-high 46 yards.
Hillsboro pulled in front, 7-0, after its defense denied the Warriors on fourth down deep inside the Trojan 20.
Fish aired it out for Bebermeyer for a 51-yard completion, pulling the Trojans to the Warrior 29.
Six plays later and facing a third-and-10 at the 17, Fish hooked up with Hagen for the score with just under 1:30 left in the first quarter and Frantz hitting the PAT.
Boone got a huge chunk of his 149 yards on the next drive, breaking loose for a 42-yard gain.
The workhorse Boone carried three more times for 25 yards, and Sprowls knotted up the game at 7-7, 55 seconds into the second quarter, scoring on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.
The Warriors had Hillsboro doubled over by halftime, 14-7, cashing in on great field position — Hillsboro’s 35.
Maddox scored on the first play, scampering down the Marion sideline for a 35-yard touchdown with 4:20 left in the first half.
The Trojans had a great chance to tie the game right before halftime, starting at the Warrior 23 with 17 seconds left.
Randy Carlson ruined that, intercepting Fish to leave the score at 14-7.
Hillsboro started the second half with excellent field position after its defense held Marion to a three-and-out on the Trojan 49.
How the Trojans managed to tie the game was anything but easy; Fish was nearly intercepted on back-to-back attempts, the team accrued three penalties, and a fumble hampered the drive.
Fish even hit Edwards for a 25-yard completion and twice the Trojans had the ball at the Warrior 13 or closer, even the 2.
Finally, Fish was able to find Hagen again in traffic on third-and-14, and Frantz tied the game with 5:11 left in the third quarter.
A big holding call killed the Warriors possibly ending the game in regulation with Boone’s 16-yard touchdown being waived off.
The Trojans escaped, stopping the Warriors on fourth down inside the Hillsboro 5.
With 6:01 left in the game, the Trojans took their time using the clock.
Even with a 23-yard completion from Fish to Bebermeyer, Hillsboro couldn’t get past midfield and punted the ball away.
Marion sent the game to overtime, running off the final minute, and electing to go on defense in the extra session.
Edwards scored Hillsboro’s touchdown — a 10-yard completion from Fish before the pivotal missed extra point.
The Warriors got a big lift from a Hillsboro facemask penalty on first down, and Sprowls snuck in again from the 1 to tie it up at 20-20.
Hillsboro watched its perfect district season crumble with Fruechting putting through the kick.
“I wanted to go for the win there, that’s why we threw some long ones, but I’m sitting there thinking ‘Let’s run the clock down and be smart with it’,” Heinrichs said. “We’re district champs, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t like losing, that’s what hurts.
““But I can walk away and still say ‘We’re district champs’, though.”
Hillsboro hosted the Sedgwick Cardinals of the Heart of America Conference Tuesday night.
The winner will travel Saturday afternoon to either Garden Plain or Wichita Collegiate.
Last modified Nov. 5, 2009