Photo By: Paul Baillargeon
By Joe Harris | Special to the Post-Dispatch
HILLSBORO, MO. • The Hillsboro High public address announcer called the Hawks’ offensive line, “the unsung heroes of the team” while announcing the starting lineups on Friday night.
The unit lived up to its reputation.
Micheal Keller had a game-high 107 yards as four different Hillsboro runners found the end zone in a 34-19 victory over visiting De Soto in the Mississippi Area Red Conference football game.
“We’re not the biggest group so we have to play fast and physical football,” Hillsboro guard Zach Bodway said. “We have to play better than anybody else. We go out with a chip on our shoulder.”
Hillsboro (6-1, 3-0) won its fifth game in a row and its tenth straight against De Soto (3-4, 1-3).
The Hawks rushed for 277 total yards as their offense held the ball for 27 of the game’s 48 minutes.
“We knew we were going to have (an inexperienced) group there,” Hillsboro coach Lee Freeman said. “We have three seniors and a junior and some young guys playing up there. They have gotten better every week.”
Keller gave Hillsboro a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter, bursting through the middle of the line for a 25-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one.
“I love my line,” Keller said. “They do everything for me.”
Joe Gregory extended Hillsboro’s lead to 12-0 with a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to cap a 10-play, 85-yard drive. A Keller 21-yard run and a 37-yard run by Joe Garner jump-started the drive.
Hawks quarterback Tyler Isaacson showed off his arm, finding Josef Marschuetz for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left in the first half. Luke Skaggs ran in the 2-point try to give Hillsboro a 20-0 lead.
Hillsboro had a couple more chances to extend its lead in the first two quarters.
De Soto fumbled the ensuing kickoff following Gregory’s touchdown, which was recovered by Hillsboro’s JC Griffin on the Dragons’ 30-yard-line. But De Soto’s defense stopped Keller a yard short on fourth down.
After forcing De Soto to a three-and-out on the next possession, Hillsboro started its next drive on the Dragons 24. But a fumbled handoff recovered by De Soto ended that threat.
Hillsboro held the ball for more than nine minutes in the second quarter and 19 of the Hawks’ 22 offensive snaps occurred in De Soto territory. The Hawks outgained the Dragons 186-93 from scrimmage in the first half.
Hillsboro’s missed opportunities continued into the third quarter as the Hawks marched to the De Soto 10 on its opening drive. But De Soto’s Mayson DeRousse recovered a fumbled pitch to end the drive.
Fourth quarter touchdown runs by Garner and Skaggs capped the Hillsboro scoring.
De Soto scored all three of its touchdowns in the fourth quarter on touchdown passes by Briar Fischer, including a 69-yard connection to Logan Smith.
Fischer threw for 202 yards, 165 of which came on 10-for-12 passing in the second half.
“We showed fight and we showed heart and that has to be No. 1,” De Soto coach Chris Johnson said. “But No. 2 is we have to win and that’s what our expectations are.”
Freeman attributes the turnovers and missed offensive opportunities to a long day for his players, which started at 5:45 a.m. with a pep rally.