HILLSBORO — The Hillsboro football team moved to 3–0 on the season with a 14–0 non-conference victory over visiting Cassville Friday night.
The Tigers defense picked off Cassville quarterback Cam Jensen three times and also recovered a fumble to record its second straight shutout and third straight dominant performance.
The Tigers (3–0) opened the season with a 52–16 rout of Wonewoc–Center on Aug. 21 and blanked Kickapoo/La Farge 44–0 a week later.
“I think our defense is fairly well rounded,” said Hillsboro head coach Eric Auel. “We’ve got some kids up front that can force the ball inside and yet some linebackers that can step up and help shore up the middle. Our secondary is experienced enough to limit a passing attack. The pressure that our guys up front can provide hopefully will help out the secondary as the season progresses.”
Cassville’s Jensen was under pressure all night and finished just 5 of 20 for 85 yards with three interceptions.
Senior linebacker Tyler Crandall picked off Jensen to end the Comets’ first drive around the 40-yard-line.
A few plays later Crandall scored from five yards out to give Hillsboro a 6–0 lead with 3:09 to play in the opening quarter.
Crandall broke loose for a 69-yard touchdown run four minutes into the second quarter. Joe Helgerson connected with Ethan Thorson for the two-point conversion to complete the scoring.
While Hillsboro’s offense struggled to maintain drives the rest of the night, the Tigers’ defense was more than good enough to close out the win.
Cody Hora and Helgerson each had interceptions in the fourth quarter to halt Cassville drives, one at the Hillsboro 15-yard line.
The Tigers also held the Comets to just 74 yards rushing on 24 carries.
“I thought we played relatively well on defense, but were inconsistent offensively,” said Auel. “We got away with making some errors during the first two weeks of the season and Cassville helped point out where some of our corrections need to be focused. We struggled to take care of the first level efficiently and were inconsistent on climbing up to the second level to take care of linebackers in the run game.”
Cassville forced five Hillsboro fumbles and recovered three. They also held the Tigers to 1 of 7 passing for 14 yards with an interception.
“Cassville came to play, were physical, and did a nice job against our run game,” said Auel. “Our pass protection was not sustained enough to allow us to take advantage of the amount of people they had in run support. With that said, I think it was a physical game and probably one that was interesting and enjoyable to fans. It was a game I think both teams can take something away from to build on for the rest of the season.”
Despite its struggles with the passing game, the Tigers did rush for 290 carries on 58 carries.
Crandall finished with 128 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Helgerson added 68 yards on 22 attempts. Justin Muller gained 44 yards on eight carries.
Max Stockwell hauled in Hillsboro’s only completion for a 14-yard gain.
Hillsboro will open Scenic Bluffs action Friday at Brookwood (2–1, 0–1 SBC). The Falcons are coming off a 51–0 loss to Bangor.
Hillsboro 14, Cassville 0
(from Friday, Sept. 4 @ Hillsboro)
Cassville 0 0 0 0 — 0
Hillboro 6 8 0 0 — 14
H: Tyler Crandall 5 run (run failed)
H: Tyler Crandall 69 run (Ethan Thorson pass from Joe Helgerson)
First downs: C 6, H 14. Rushing: C 24-74, H 58-290. Passing Yards: C 85, H 14. Passing: C 5-20-3, H 1-7-1. Fumbles–lost: C 2-1, H 5-3. Penalties: C 5-40, H 8-50.
Rushing: C: Caleb Dashe 10-54, Cam Jensen 10-20; H: Tyler Crandall 13-128, Joe Helgerson 22-68, Justin Muller 8-44. Passing: C: Jensen 5-20-3, 85; H: Helgerson 1-5-1, 14. Receiving: C: Christian Reynolds 2-35; H: Max Stockwell 1-14.