Football fans at Hillsboro’s Sawyer Field on Friday, Sept. 24, witnessed the shortest game-winning field goal possible when Paris High’s Landon Englum was successful in an 18 yard boot (the line of scrimmage was the Topper 1; the kick was booted from seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, and the goal post is ten yards behind the goal line, so it goes in the books as an 18 yard kick) that gave the visitors a 3-0 victory. Only 30.4 seconds remained on the scoreboard clock.
Much happened in the 47 minutes preceding the kick, but scoring plays weren’t a part of them. Each team came close, though. Both teams depend on ball control offenses, but the defenses limited the effectiveness of their running games. Hillsboro received the opening kickoff and drove 40 yards by running the ball 11 times before attempting a fourth-and-ten to go pass which fell incomplete to give Paris possession. The longest carry was for eight yards by Blaine Stewart.
Paris has a 6’4’’, 285 lb. lineman, Logan Bartley, who has signed to play at Indiana State in Terre Haute, close to his home town. He and 315 lb. Gabe Winans were a formidable duo to run against. For the game, Hillsboro’s ground attack rushed for 101 yards after compiling 350 the week before against Vandalia.
The Tigers’ offense was sparked by their quarterback, senior Ethan Dick, who gained 64 of their 101 yards rushing. Their rushing total would have been higher had the Toppers not played well; Dick’s only first quarter pass was for 19 yards to their quickest receiver, Norman Phillips; it came at the end of the first quarter, which finished with the ball on the Topper 21. That drive stalled when Brayden Fowler broke up a pass to Phillips and linebacker Blaze Helton defended a pass to running back Eli Board.
The Topper defense had little chance to relax, though, as a fumble gave the ball back to Paris four plays later. That was the only Topper turnover of the battle. That Tiger possession ended with a Englum punt that rolled dead on the Hillsboro 6.
The home team used a personal foul penalty to escape their own goal line, but almost immediately they were under pressure again as a Topper shanked punt hit the track.
The new line of scrimmage was Hillsboro’s 34. This time a fourth and ten completion for 15 yards and a three yard gain by Board moved the ball to the Topper 14. Four plays later an open field tackle by Zane Duff stopped Dick on the Topper 9 to end the Tiger drive. It was 0-0 at halftime, but the Hillsboro defense had stood strong in the darkest moments. It had the feel of a game in which the first team to score would win.
Having had scant luck running the ball, the Tigers began the second half by throwing passes. The first was overthrown, but the second (Dick to running back Bryan Kohlmeyer) would have been a 78 yard touchdown had Paris not been caught holding.
When Hillsboro had to punt at the end of their first series, Wells boomed the ball over their returner’s head; it rolled to the 5. The danger of a safety loomed until Dick, taking the snap in shotgun formation, ran up the middle for a nine yard gain. Eventually Englum punted for the third time in the contest.
Hillsboro punted for the fourth time to begin the fourth quarter; Englum punted for the fourth time after Jaben Compton tossed Dick down for a three yard loss on the Paris 32. The punt was long, and when the Topper return man was called for a penalty on the play, the line of scrimmage was the Topper 5. Helton gained nine yards on three carries; facing a fourth-and-one on their own 14, Hillsboro gambled and won as Duff converted for a first down.
Wells’ 32 yard kick after three more plays gained only a yard should have meant the Toppers were out of trouble, but Phillips returned the boot to the Topper 22 to put pressure on the defense again. Kohlmeyer gained four before Helton thumped him; Dick gained 3 more (to the 15) before Wells and Maddex Scott caught him for a yard loss. Facing a fourth-and-three,the Tigers broke the huddle with three receivers near the left sideline, but then they called time out when they saw the Topper defensive alignment.
When play resumed, Dick kept right for eight yards and a first down at the Topper 8. Board plowed to the 2. Facing defeat, Wells brought Board down at the 3. After a Tiger time-out, Board tried the middle again. He was stopped at the 1. After the Tigers lined up for their critical rush, Hillsboro called a time-out; 35.2 seconds remained. Evidently Paris decided to go for the field goal during the time-out because they prepared for the attempt as they came back on the field. For a second, it looked like the kick would hit the right upright or sail right; it didn’t, so the visitors won.
The next chance for a Topper varsity football victory comes this Friday, Oct 1, in Gillespie; game time is 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Hillsboro
Hillsboro (0-5) 0 0 0 0 0
Paris (3-2) 0 0 0 3 3
4th - 0:38 - ( P) - Connor Crunk 18-yard field goal
Passing (3-6-9): Zane Duff 3-6-9.
Rushing (34-93): Blaze Helton 11-40; Blaine Stewart 8-29; Zane Duff 10/18; Joe Keiser 5/6.
Receiving (3-9): Bryce Connor 2-8; Jace Stewart 1-1.
Defense (Solo/Assist): Jaben Compton 8/3; Magnus Wells 1/8; Ian Malloy 2/4; Blaze Helton 3/2; Zane Duff 3/1; Blaine Stewart 3/1; Brayden Fowler 3/1; Maddex Scott 3/1; Dalton Reynolds 1/0; Reese Morford 1/0; Joe Keiser 0/1.2