Friday’s Homecoming game with Bangor went from bad in the first half to even worse in the third quarter.
The visiting Cardinals racked up 348 yards of offense without even attempting a single pass and took full advantage of three Tigers turnovers on the way to a dominating 40–12 Scenic Bluffs victory.
Undefeated Bangor (5–0, 3–0) jumped out to a 21–0 lead in a first half, where Hillsboro barely had the ball.
Then the Cardinals Seth Zabel ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the third quarter, and only moments later Mitchell Douglass returned an interception for a score to increase the Cardinals’ lead to 34–0.
Bangor took the opening kickoff and drove the length of the field eating up most of the first quarter before Andrew Piske capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run with just over four minutes left in the opening quarter.
Along the way, the Cardinals converted three times on fourth-and-short to keep the drive going.
The ensuing kickoff bounced off a Hillsboro player and was recovered by Bangor near midfield.
Piske scored again from 14 yards out a minute into the second quarter to make it 13–0.
Hillsboro quarterback Matt Stekel picked up a nice 15-yard gain on the Tigers’ second offensive play of the game, but fumbled at the tail end of the run and Bangor once again recovered.
The Cardinals again cashed in on Hillsboro’s misfortune and took a 21–0 halftime lead after Jack Reader scored from five yards out and Piske added the conversion run.
Zabel’s 80-yard run on the first play of the second half made it 28–0.
Moments later Douglas picked off a Stekel pass and returned it for six.
“They had the ball the whole game, it seemed,” said Hillsboro head coach Eric Auel. “It was a series of unfortunate events obviously and turning the ball over against good teams is hard to overcome. The kids responded in the third quarter positively and we were able to move the ball the entire second half. Unfortunately our hole was too big to dig out of.”
Hillsboro’s offense finally got going on its next possession, but it was too little too late.
Senior fullback Warren Paulson scored from two yards out late in the third quarter to break-up the shutout.
Junior halfback Tommy Crandall scored on a 1-yard run late in the fourth to account for the final score.
“Bangor is disciplined, coached well, and were able to take advantage of our defensive approach,” said Auel. “Their offensive is a unique system that is difficult to completely stop. While it looks very simple in scheme, it presents unique challenges to their opponents. I feel we can compete with them; however, the series of events on Friday took us out of the game fairly early. I look forward to potentially making the playoffs and having another shot at them.”
Zabel finished with a game-high 158 yards on 15 carries.
Crandall led Hillsboro with 33 yards on eight carries. Paulson added 32 yards on 12 carries.
Stekel completed 4 of 7 passes for 72 yards with one interception.
Hillsboro (3–2, 1–2 SBC) will look to snap its two-game losing streak when it travels to SBC co-leading Cashton (3–2, 3–0) Friday night.