Caleb Riordan | Ameritime Sports Writer
The Hillsboro Hawks Varsity Football team took down the Festus Tigers 34-29 in dramatic fashion in the first-ever POW/MIA. Hawks Senior Lineman Jordan Jarvis summed up the win perfectly, saying, “This win felt amazing! My brothers and I never stop playing. It shows that we are family and we don’t give up on each other.”
This highly anticipated matchup did not disappoint. Fans from both sides packed the stands with stragglers lining the fence around the field. Both student sections came with energy and you could hear the banging of cowbells as soon as you entered the campus.
Hillsboro got things started when Jaxin Patterson found the end zone from nine yards out for a touchdown. That wouldn’t be the last we hear from Patterson. Festus failed to score on their first drive and gave the ball back to the Hawks. They drove all the way down before a Tiger stripped a Hawks’ ball carrier inside the ten-yard line and gave Festus the ball back. It wasn’t two minutes later the Tigers gouged the Hillsboro defense for a 96-yard passing touchdown that evened the game at six.
Festus took the lead at the beginning of the second quarter on an eight-yard rushing touchdown. The Hawks answered a few minutes later with another Patterson rushing touchdown, this time from 19 yards out. That was all either side could muster up in the first half. They began the third quarter knotted at 13.
Patterson started out the third with a bang. He found the end zone yet again, this time he broke off a 71-yard touchdown run that eventually put his team ahead 21-13. But as heavyweights do, the Tigers fired back immediately. Less than a minute came off the clock before Festus scored a 57-yard touchdown and pulled within one of the Hawks. Griffin Ray decided he wanted to put some points himself, leading the Hawks down the field before finding the end zone with his feet from seven yards out. However, the Festus passing attack would not be denied. They scored another big touchdown from 49 yards out that made the score 28-26 in Hillsboro’s favor. That score brought us to the end of the third.
The intensity picked up in the fourth quarter. This was anybody’s game and both sides had been trading blows since the opening kickoff. Festus struck first in the fourth when they nailed a 22-yard field goal that put them up 29-28 with about eight minutes to go in the quarter. That was more than enough time for the Hawks to find pay dirt one last time. They marched down the field before Patterson scored his fourth and most crucial touchdown of the game from three yards out. That put the Hawks ahead 34-29 with five minutes left in the game.
Festus got the ball back with no timeouts. They had time, but Hillsboro did everything they could to keep that clock running. The Tigers did everything they could before they found themselves in the red zone once again. They took a few shots at the end zone before Hillsboro made the biggest play of the game. Festus quarterback, Cole Rickermann, scrambled out of the pocket with his eyes locked on the endzone. The Hawks defense desperately raced toward him and, against all odds, knocked the ball clean out of his hands. Hillsboro jumped on the fumble and everyone in blue went ballistic. The Hawks then kneeled out the clock and wrapped up a 34-29 victory.
“It felt great to come out on top. I like how we continued to fight all the way through even when the momentum shifted and it didn’t get to us,” Austin Romaine said. “The guys fought hard and it’s time to move on and look towards next week. The POW/MIA ceremony was great before the game and I hope we continue that tradition from here on out as part of our school.”
Patterson was a man possessed in Hillsboro’s backfield. He finished with 26 carries for 269 yards and four touchdowns. He credited his line for success.
“Honestly I couldn’t thank my brothers up front enough,” he said. “I know it isn’t easy to go against someone heads up every single play, and they sure did that for me and didn’t let off the gas for a single play.”
Romaine carried the ball 16 times for 107 yards. Ray found the end zone with his feet once as well.
Romaine was a force on both sides of the ball. He led his team with seven tackles with one tackle for a loss. Cody Bishop was just behind with five and a half tackles. Harrison Voyles racked up four tackles and Jarvis picked up three himself.
This edition of the Highway-A rivalry is already one to remember. Festus beat the Hawks last season for the first time since 2014. Hillsboro was thrilled to have this matchup tipped back in their favor.
“The feeling of beating another conference and district opponent is always amazing,” Patterson said. “It was probably the most fun game I’ve played in High School. Despite the score, despite the yards and touchdowns, the adversity and constant physicality was what made that game so intense and fun.”
The Hawks are now 4-1 and have won three straight. Next Friday, October 1st they welcome Windsor to their home field to take on the Owls and try and pick up their fifth win of the season.