Cardinals put the breakson Trojans' post-season play
Brown-less Hillsboro falls to Conway Springs, 35-26
By RYAN RICHTER
Hillsboro Trojan quarterback Spencer Brown was dressed in street clothes Saturday with the Trojans looking to snap a two-game losing streak to the visiting Conway Springs Cardinals.
Brown suffered a torn ACL in an Oct. 30 48-13 blowout of Sedgwick to open Hillsboro's second consecutive showing in the post-season.
Back-up Ben Gottsch has been out for five weeks, leaving sophomore Jacob Fish the daunting task of trying to get Hillsboro out of the sectional round.
The Cardinals used three second-half touchdowns and a physical offensive line to wear out the Trojans' undersized defense, 35-26.
Fish proved that Gottsch will have to fight for his job next season, throwing for a game-high 211 yards and completing 63 percent of his passes and two touchdowns — both off Cardinal turnovers.
Hillsboro (6-5) ends it season for the third time in the past five years at the hands of 9-2 Conway Springs.
If you take away the Trojans' running game, Hillsboro is challenged for offense, and Brown is a big part of that ground attack.
The Cardinals did more than shut down the Trojans' ground game, they destroyed it, while piling up all 429 yards of their offense on the ground.
Hillsboro gained just 18 yards on 22 carries.
Yoder closed out his spectacular career with a team-high 15 yards on 16 carries — his biggest run of the game being eight yards.
"Jacob's (Fish) a champ. The guys played really hard," a saddened Trojan coach Len Coryea said. "The whole key was they wore us out up front. We couldn't move the ball on the ground, we couldn't compensate back.
"Had we been able to run the ball, that's where we were missing our quarterback, it gave us another running back. I didn't know we could pass on them as well as we did."
The Trojans gained the momentum early with Daniel Jost recovering a fumble and setting Hillsboro up at the Cardinal 17.
Fish fired a 20-yard touchdown to Jost, who had a game-high 69 yards, to give Hillsboro the 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Cardinals' single wing offense has been its strength, and it still was, as Nathan Pauly and Caleb Brill did all their damage by themselves.
Pauly finished with a game-high 262 yards and Brill added 167 more, with Pauly pulling the Cardinals to 7-6 on their next drive with a touchdown run.
The Trojans pushed the lead to 14-6 by halftime, helped by a Cardinal fumble with Fish going deep for senior Grant Schneider on a 45-yard touchdown completion on third-and-long.
Fatigue started wearing on the Trojans in the third quarter as the Cardinals knotted the game at 14. Brill gained 47 yards on Conway Springs' opening drive of the second half, capped by a Pauly touchdown.
Daniel Roble put the Trojans on top after recovering a bad snap and rumbling 24 yards for the 20-14 lead with two minutes, 11 seconds left in the third quarter.
The lead would only hold for eight plays however, when Joey Duggan putting the Cardinals in front to stay with a 26-yard touchdown with 11:14 left in the game, 21-20.
Brill finished the game for Conway Springs, scoring on a pair of 30-yard runs.
Fish and Yoder connected on a 23-yard touchdown with 5:35 to go, but the two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete for the final.
"I'm real proud. I was worried about this game all along," Coryea said. "We never gave up, we've got big hearts. We had a great senior class. Our guys were great to be around. We had one of the highest scoring teams since we've been here."
The Trojans will be hit hard by graduation with Brown, Yoder, Mitchell Koop, C.J. Shaw, Zac Jost, Michael Scheele, Roble, and Schneider departing.
But Ishmael Morris, Daniel Jost, Isaac Leihy, and Fish should keep Hillsboro respectable in 2008.