LOYAL — The Hillsboro offense never got on track.
Meanwhile, the host Loyal Greyhounds rushed for 213 yards and three first-half touchdowns to post a 23–6 victory in the first round of the WIAA Division 7 playoffs and end the Tigers’ season.
“The wind played out to be a big factor in the game,” said Hillsboro head coach Eric Auel. “They played eight and nine guys in the box but we didn’t feel comfortable throwing against it.”
Hillsboro completed just 1 of 5 passes in the game for 28 yards, and that was a halfback option pass from Brandon Stanek to Max Stockwell.
Senior quarterback Grant Jefferies went 0 for 4 with an interception.
With the passing game grounded and too many defenders to block at the line of scrimmage, Hillsboro’s offense went into hibernation.
The Tigers rushed for just 69 yards on 21 carries in the game.
“They were solid up front and had a hard time single blocking their defensive linemen,” added Auel. “As a result, their linebackers were able to scrape and make a number of plays.
“We started moving the ball near the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. We just weren’t able to sustain drives due to penalties, miscues, fumbles, and a costly interception that had the potential to bring the game into a manageable task.”
Hillsboro lost two fumbles in the game.
The wind also affected special teams.
The Tigers' first punt of the night traveled just five yards and set up Loyal’s first touchdown.
Fullback Andrew Symanski cashed in the good fortune with a 5-yard touchdown down and then added the extra point for an early 7–0 lead just three minutes into the game.
Symanski scored again just a minute later in the first quarter from 10 yards out following Hillsboro’s first turnover to make it 13–0.
Trevor Witt added an 11-yard touchdown run just before the half and Colten Roehl complete the conversion pass to make it 21–0 at the halftime.
Hillsboro got on the board midway through the third quarter on a Jefferies’ 1-yard run.
Loyal scored the game’s final points on a fourth-quarter safety when Jake Rueth sacked Jefferies in the end zone.
Loyal (8–2) advances to face SBC runner-up New Lisbon (8–2) this Friday at 7 p.m.
Hillsboro ends the season at 5–5.
“The season certainly had its ups and its downs,” said Auel. “After replacing all but one starting offensive linemen and an all-conference quarterback, I thought we were competitive with everyone we played and I believe we outplayed several opponents in close losses.
“Turnovers and penalties played significant roles in all of our losses. I felt we could potentially be a legitimate Level 3 playoff team with some better fortune; however, the ball is not round and simply bounces in unpredictable ways at times.”