NECEDAH — Necedah senior quarterback Matt Brown had a field day Friday night at the expense of sluggish Hillsboro defense.
The versatile Brown rushed for 110 yards, passed for 91 more, scored three touchdowns, kicked a field goal and three extra points and accounted for 25 points in the Cardinals’ 31–6 victory over the previously undefeated Tigers.
“Matt Brown is a very good athlete, probably the best athlete in the league,” said Hillsboro head coach Eric Auel. “He is very tough to defend, however, we struggled with our tackling as a whole.
“We were very flat and did not play with a sense of aggression or urgency. We didn’t execute well on offense and tackled poorly on defense. The score is not an indicator of the level of both teams. We have been able to get away with tamed enthusiasm and slow starts for the past three weeks. However, Necedah is a better football team and we can’t afford to do that against good teams.”
Brown opened the scoring with a 15-yard run and added the extra point to give Necedah (2–2, 1–1 SBC) a 7–0 lead with 5:14 left in the first quarter.
After the Cardinals’ next drive stalled at the Hillsboro 13-yard-line, Brown booted a 30-yard field goal to make it 10–0.
Hillsboro battled back and pulled within four at 10–6 when senior Matt Stekel tossed a two-yard TD pass to junior Joey Helgerson with just over four minutes remaining in the first half.
But Brown and the Cardinals added a momentum-killing touchdown late in the half, when the Necedah signal caller scampered 10 yards to pay dirt and a 17–6 lead with just 30 seconds left in the half.
James Canfield scored on a 10-yard run late in the third quarter to make it 24–6 and after Hillsboro’s third turnover of the night Necedah cashed in the short field position with a 1-yard Brown run to account for the final score.
“Tackling was really the key to the game, and also not being able to sustain offensive momentum also played a significant part,” added Auel. “A fumble on our own twenty right before the half lead to a key score from Necedah. An interception on our opening drive on the second half, which was our most productive of the night up until that point, negatively impacted the comeback spirit as well. And later a snap over our punter’s head sealed the frustrations of the night.”
Hillsboro was held to just 60 yards rushing on 22 attempts and Stekel completed only the short TD pass in five attempts and was intercepted twice.
Tommy Crandall made nine tackles to lead the Tigers defense. Phillip Beyer and Tyler Crandall were each in on six stops.
The Tigers (3–1, 1–1) will face another stern test this Friday when they host undefeated Bangor (4–0, 2–0) for Homecoming.
Bangor blanked Necedah 38–0 two weeks ago and is coming off a 24–6 victory over New Lisbon.
“I’m excited for the challenge of playing Bangor,” said Auel. “We’ve had some real close games over the past couple years and I expect the same this week as well. Our defense will need to play a much better game this week compared to last week in order for us to have a chance. Bangor has a very balanced team and appear to be strong on both sides of the ball. We’ll have our work cut out for us. Putting Homecoming distractions this week out of our minds will be critical.”