Caleb Riordan | Ameritime Sports Writer
The Hillsboro Hawks Varsity Football team moved on to the district championship with a thrilling 13-7 win over the Festus Tigers on Friday, November 5th.
This was much more of a grind it out battle than the first time these two teams met this season. Hillsboro won the previous matchup 34-29 and pounced on a game sealing fumble by Festus’ quarterback Cole Rickermann that secured the victory way back in week five.
In this game there wasn’t a single point scored until the second quarter. Jaxin Patterson found the end zone from 18 yards out and gave Hillsboro the initial 7-0 lead. That was the only points from either side in the first half as the Hawks’ defense did a tremendous job of holding down a high-flying Tiger offense.
The second half didn’t show us much more offense though, as Hillsboro’s defense continued to contain Festus’ offense. When the scoring finally broke through it was the Tigers’ defense that finally put some points on the board. They scooped up a Patterson fumble and found their way into the end zone and helped tie the game at seven in the fourth quarter.
Hillsboro is used to their rushing attack dominating games, and that was no different in this one, specifically noting Austin Romaine. He was the Tigers worst enemy all night as he repeatedly gouged Festus’ defense run after run, and eventually found his way into the end zone, for what ended up being the most important score of the day. With just over a minute left on the clock, Romaine carried the ball ten yards into the end zone and put the Hawks ahead for good. Hillsboro secured the 13-7 win, improved to 9-1 and kept their season alive.
Regarding the success of the defense Romaine had this to say, “I think the key to the success was getting to Rickermann so he couldn’t stand back for too long and find someone. We did a great job last night in coverage to give the d-line enough time to get there and force Rickermann out.”
“We really came together as a team when it mattered,” Tyler Watson said. “We all played for each other and we weren’t ready to be done. We played fast and physical and got the job done.”
Romaine carried the ball 25 times and racked up a whopping 232 yards and a touchdown. Patterson had 22 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. These two did all the heavy lifting for the Hawks on offense throughout the night.
The Hillsboro defense may be the story of the game though as they only allowed Festus 90 total yards of offense. If his dominant offensive night wasn’t enough, Romaine also led the Hawks defense in tackles by a wide margin. He picked up 11 and a half tackles and three sacks. Harrison Voyles and Payton Brown were each second on the team with three and a half tackles. Jordan Jarvis had three.
Jarvis had this to say about the game, “We just played for each other and didn’t give up like we do every game. We feel good, it’s a playoff game so anything can happen.”
The Hawks have their sights set on a much higher prize than a district semi-final win over the Tigers, but nonetheless, they were ecstatic to come away with this game. This was the second time this season they beat the Tigers and there was a lot more on the line this time around.
Anytime these two teams face off it is special and this adds another chapter to the history book of these two teams. Hillsboro’s next challenge will be North County on Friday, November 11th at 7 pm for the District Championship.