HILLSBORO — Hillsboro hosted the Blue Lions of Washington High School Friday for the Indians’ Homecoming game and emerged victorious, 41-34, in a hard-fought, back-and-forth game.
The Blue Lions defense came out of the gates strong as they forced the Indians to go four and out on their opening drive of the game.
The Washington offense took over at their own 20-yard line after a beautiful punt by the Indians went for a touch back. The Blue Lions mixed run and pass plays seamlessly on the drive as Richard Burns found open receivers and Jacob Rice exploited creases in the Indians defense.
But the Blue Lions were unable to capitalize on a strong start and were forced to punt.
Hillsboro got the ball back on their own 26-yard line and proceeded to run the ball for six consecutive plays culminating in a scintillating 49-yard touchdown run by Josh Keets to open the scoring for the Indians. The extra point was good off the foot of Britton Haines to put Hillsboro up 7-0 with 5:12 to go in the first quarter.
Washington immediately answered with a scoring drive of their own featuring a heavy dose of runs from Rice and a 32-yard strike from Burns to Eli Lynch for a touchdown. The extra point was good for the Blue Lions to tie the score at 7-7 with three minutes to go in the first quarter.
A seven play drive for the Indians ended in a punt that gave the Blue Lions the ball back on their own 28. On the second play of the drive, Washington dialed up a flea flicker as Rice connected with Lynch for a huge 54-yard gain.
Six plays later Burns tossed an eight-yard touchdown to Lynch to give Washington their first lead at 14-7 following the successful point after.
The Indians would not go away however, as they strung together a five-play scoring drive on the backs of Deon Burns and Keets who both had explosive plays to get the Indians rolling again. The drive came to a conclusion when Burns rumbled up the middle for a 17 yard score. The ensuing extra point was good enabling the Indians to tie the game at 14 apiece.
The wild first half continued as the Blue Lions had an answer of their own after Burns threw an interception into the hands of Mark Gallimore. Gallimore fumbled on the return and the Blue Lions recovered and scored two plays later as Burns threw his third touchdown of the night, with Zane Nelson on the receiving end. A two-point conversion attempt for Washington was stopped resulting in a 20-14 lead for the Blue Lions.
Hillsboro would have none of it as they promptly took the ball 75 yards to even the game at 20-20. An extra point attempt by Haines missed leaving the game tied.
Hillsboro got the ball back before the half as the Blue Lions went three and out and were forced to punt.
The ensuing drive saw the Indians start on their own 42 and piece together a nine-play scoring drive that was capped off by Deon Burns’ second touchdown of the night, the extra point was good to give Hillsboro a 27-20 lead headed into half time.
The Blue Lions got the ball to start the second half and went straight down the field in six plays to score and tie the game for the fourth and final time 27-27.
Another long drive for Hillsboro was capped off with the third touchdown of the night by Burns who scampered in from 10 yards out o give the Indians a 34-27 lead after the extra point.
After successfully holding the Blue Lions out of the end zone on two straight trips the Indians added the dagger on a 12-play drive the resulted in a 36-yard touchdown run by Devon Gallimore that, combined with a successful extra point, put the Indians up 41-27 with just over six minutes to play.
Following a nine-play drive that featured six passing plays the Blue Lions were able to get on the board again as Jacob Rice scored from four yards out and the extra point was good to get Washington to within 41-34.
The Blue Lions had a chance to tie it on a pass from Burns but it was intercepted by the Indians in the end zone.
However, the Blue Lions were able to get another chance Hillsboro fumbled on their first play following the interception to give the ball right back to Washington. But it was not to be as Mason Swayne broke up a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to force a turnover on downs and salt the game away.
Hillsboro head coach Jack O’Rourke said after the game, “The kids stepped up on the defensive side of the ball, they wanted to win the game.”
Hillsboro will be at home again next week as the host the Jackson Ironmen looking to add another win to their 5-2 record and 1-1 league record.
The Blue Lions will travel down SR 41 next week to take on the 0-7 McClain Tigers. Chillicothe shut the Tigers out Friday, 56-0.