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Falcons edge Tiger gridders in overtime
Struggling Cats have lost four of their last five game
brandon stanek
Hillsboros Brandon Stanek cuts to the sideline during the Tigers overtime possession Friday night. The Tigers fell to Brookwood for the first time since 2001 after a 21-15 defeat in overtime. Stanek finished the game with a game high 91 yards on 19 carries. - photo by Nate Beier photos/

ONTARIO — In the midst of an intense overtime period, word that Scenic Bluffs-leading New Lisbon had lost its first conference game of the season reached the Brookwood sideline.

The Falcons were buoyed by the news of the Rockets' loss and the realization they were once again in the running for a share of the SBC title. The resulting momentum helped push visiting Brookwood past the struggling Hillsboro Tigers 21–15 at Brookwood High School Friday night.

The Falcons scored their only 15 points of regulation in the fourth quarter and tied the game on 12-yard run by Paul Ryan and Ryan’s ensuing two-point conversion run with 8:02 remaining in the game.

Hillsboro got the ball in overtime first and drove inside the Falcons’ 10-yard line.

On 4th-and-2 the Tigers elected to go for the first down, but a false start moved them back five yards.

On 4th-and-7 Hillsboro coach Eric Auel elected to go for the field goal, but Moa Jillefors' attempt missed.

About that time, Brookwood got news of New Lisbon’s loss and was visibly enthused about its chance at a conference championship.

The Falcons drove the required 25 yards in a handful of plays, and Ryan crashed in from three yards out for the game-winner.

Brookwood improved to 7–1 overall and 6–1 in the SBC.

Hillsboro, which has now lost four of its last five games since a 3–0 start, fell to 4–4, 2–4.

“We have been competitive in every game and the Brookwood game was no exception,” said Hillsbor head coach Eric Auel. “I felt like we dominated both of our opponents on both sides of the ball this week and last. Unfortunately, we made too mistakes in protecting the ball and taking advantage of opportunities. We need to put points on the board when we are position to do so.

Matt Bartels gave Hillsboro a 7–0 lead with a 25-yard touchdown run a minute into the second quarter.

Brookwood tied the game on a Dominic Luxton to Josh Marten 40-yard TD pass on the second play of the fourth quarter. Jake Hansen’s extra point made it 7–7.

Hillsboro regained the lead less than a minute later on a 6-yard run by Brandon Stanek. Stanek finished the game with a game-high 91 yards on 19 carries. Stanek then completed a two-point conversion pass to Max Stockwell to make it 15–7.

Brookwood tied the game three minutes later on Ryan’s 12-yard run and ensuing two-point conversion run.
Ryan finished the game with a team-high 70 yards on 19 carries.
“You can learn something out of a close loss, and we’ve had several that are haunting us this year,” added Auel. “From what I understand, we could potentially make the playoffs and if we do, some of our misfortune has to turn around and come back the other way.”

Hillsboro will close out the regular season Friday at home against SBC cellar dweller Wonewoc–Center (0–8, 0–6).

Hillsboro’s playoffs hopes are still very slim. Even with a win, the Tigers would still only be 3–4 in conference play. The WIAA’s first criteria for postseason eligibility is a .500 record or better in conference play.

But in rare occasions where there are not 224 playoff eligible teams– the total number of playoff spots in Wisconsin’s seven divisions–teams with overall winning records that are a game under .500 in conference play would be considered.