The Hillsboro Hawks running game had been almost nearly unstoppable in their first two wins of the season over Sikeston and Cape Central, and unfortunately for Fort Zumwalt West and Head Coach Ben Pike the Jaguars had the same problem stopping that trend on Friday night. Hillsboro tallied 474 yards on the ground, and the Hawks dismantled Ft. Zumwalt West 49-13.
The Jaguars started the game off with an opening possession touchdown, as starting quarterback Mike Ludwig connected with wideout Darius Jones on a 10-yard strike. This put Hillsboro behind 7-0 (after a successful point after attempt) for the first time in the 2023 season… but the worm would turn.
After the end of the first 12 minutes of play, the Hawks would find their offensive rhythm as quarterback Preston Brown found receiver Blake Larson from 15 yards out to tie the game at seven with a successful PAT.
The defenses for both teams played tug-a-war for the majority of the rest of the quarter until just 11 seconds remained when Brown found the end zone off a quarterback keeper from 15 yards deep to give Hillsboro the lead going into intermission, 14-7.
The second half then revealed just why the Hawks are a state-ranked power, as the Hawks would turn to his stout multi-faceted running game. Cue lead back Austin Romaine, who collected his first rushing touchdown of the game at the 7:36 mark, scoring from nine yards out to make the Hillsboro advantage 14 points.
The Jaguars would kick consecutive field goals to end the third quarter and cut the Hawk’s lead to eight points, but a 21-13 advantage just simply wasn’t enough for Hillsboro.
That’s as close as Ft. Zumwalt West would get though, thanks to the Hawks dominating on the ground in the final quarter as Payton Brown, Jaxin Patterson, Preston Brown and Kaden Brown all turned in rushing TDs to give Hillsboro another dominating win to finish off the Jaguars.
“Our main focus this week in practice was trying to take away what they like to do on the perimeter with their running backs,” Coach Sucharski said. “We were able to settle down after their opening drive and played pretty well defensively from that point on.”
Defensively, the Hawks were led by Romaine who collected 12 more tackles on the season with 1.5 of those for a loss, while also collecting the lone sack for Hillsboro. Canyon Stout and Griffin Ray each recorded 6.5 tackles in the dominant victory for the Hawks as well.
Patterson however was an absolute force in this game on both sides of the ball. The triple threat led the team in catches (5) and receiving yards (43), rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown and totaled six tackles on the defensive end.
QB Preston Brown completed 8-of-10 passes for 87 yards and added a touchdown, but the running game was the big story. They continued to dominate with Romaine running 10 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, Patterson 15 times for his gaudy numbers (see above) and Preston Brown 10 times for 93 yards and a score. Not to mention, Payton Brown rushed 12 times for 79 yards for two touchdowns and Kaden Brown ran one time for 36 yards and a score.
There wasn’t much to tell about the arial attack, but it’s worth noting that Larson caught the only touchdown thrown in the game (from 15 yards out).
Hillsboro (3-0) will play its toughest opponent so far this season next Friday against undefeated North County at home.
“We’re looking forward to next Friday,” Sucharski said. “We’ll get back to work this week and understand the importance of containing running back Jobe Smith. We know it will be a physical game, so our kids will need to be rested and ready to play.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at Hillsboro High School.