The Hillsboro Hiltoppers football team packed high hopes to take to Staunton Friday evening, Sept. 6; after all, the Toppers were down only by four points to Piasa when their season-opening game ended while Staunton gave up 44 to Pana in their opener. Sadly for Hillsboro's fan base (which once again traveled well), the hopes for a Topper win were realistically gone by halftime when the Staunton extra-points kicker, a young lady who also doubled as one of the three majorettes for the Bulldog band, had outscored the Toppers 3-0.
The 'Dogs offense featured junior quarterback Zack Ury (11 of 13 passing for 251 yards), running back senior Devin Ray (74 yards for two touchdowns) and wide receiver Kyle Favre (4 receptions, 169 yards, 3 touchdowns). The hosts proved to be quick, elusive, and speedy when they had the ball.
The Toppers had good individual performances too: quarterback Jace Tuetken threw for 115 yards and rushed for 90; Joey Lipe had two determined runs - a kickoff return for 45 yards to begin the second half followed by a 20 yard elusive run that reached the end zone for the visitors' first score; a safety that ended the scoring when Zinnen Kenney caught a 'Dog in their end zone late in the game; a blocked field goal and a blocked extra point by Brett Cunningham; a shoe-top high catch by tight end Dylan McCammack for a touchdown; and the consistent efforts of Jonah Harkins on offense (47 yards rushing, 47 yards receiving) and defense (a team high eight solo tackles). However, the Bulldogs brought more depth and more experience to the field.
Their first touchdown drive came on their first possession during which they ran 12 plays to cover 65 yards. They were aided by three Topper penalties - two encroachments that resulted in third down conversions and a face-mask call that also yielded a first down. Ray did most of the heavy lifting, carrying four consecutive times up the middle; the score came on a Ury to Colin Mullenix 10 yard pass.
The Toppers kept the ball on their first possession for four minutes, reaching the 'Dog 15 (despite two more penalties) before turning it over on downs. Staunton threatened immediately as Ury (a successful pitcher/shortstop in the baseball season) threw to Kyle McCalla for a 52 yard gain before the quarter ended. Lipe had to run McCalla down to save a touchdown.
The delay was short-lived, however, as Ray scored from the 8 three plays after the second quarter started; Hollie Bekeske, all 5'4", 120 lbs of her, made it 14-0 with her second successful kick with 11:04 to play in the half.
The third touchdown drive covered 93 yards but took only four plays as Favre caught a Ury pass before outrunning the Topper secondary for an 81 yard score. Again the PAT kick was successful.
Trailing 21-0, the Toppers took the second half kickoff for a quick score. Lipe used his considerable speed to return that kickoff from his 30 to the Bulldog 25. A bad pitch set up a third and 15, but then a penalty on third down gave Hillsboro a first down at the 'Dog 20. From there Lipe ran right, then left, then right again on the same play to edge into the end zone. Tuetken scored the extra points on a keeper.
Had Staunton given the ball back quickly, the Toppers had the momentum to come back. Instead, Staunton used the next six minutes to tuck the game safely into their win column. Ury began by scampering for 26 yards. Four plays later Ray converted a fourth-and-one into a drive-sustaining first down by charging ahead for three.
Ury (17 yards) and Ray (18 yards) finished the drive, with Ray scoring from the 1. This time the PAT attempt failed; a bad snap caused the holder to throw an unanswered prayer so Bekeske's percentage remained at 100%. That wouldn't matter in terms of the game outcome, though.
Hillsboro's offense had another touchdown left. Late in the third quarter a Tuetken to Jude Bertolino pass for 33 yards had the ball at the 1. Though a procedure penalty delayed the score, it came on the third play in quarter four when McCammak grabbed a short sideline pass from Tuetken in the Dogs' end zone. It was again a two-touchdown game with nearly eleven minutes to play.
Two touchdowns were scored, but both belonged to Staunton as Ury found Favre behind a tiring Topper defense, once for a 35 yard and the other for a 49 yard score.
The last score was Kenney's safety as the Topper junior tackled Staunton's reserve quarterback in the end zone for a tour yard, two point loss.
Hillsboro's next chance for a win comes this Friday, Sept. 13, when Roxana brings an athletic quarterback and a very athletic receiver to town; kickoff is 7 p.m.
September 6 at Staunton
Hillsboro (0-2) 0 0 8 8 16
Staunton (1-1) 7 14 6 13 40
1st: Staunton - Colin Mullenix 10-yard pass from Zach Ury (Hollie Bekeske kick)
2nd: Staunton - Devin Ray 8-yard run (Hollie Bekeske kick)
2nd: Staunton - Kyle Favre 81-yard pass from Zach Ury (Hollie Bekeske kick)
3rd: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 20-yard run (Jace Tuetken 2pt. run)
3rd: Staunton - Devin Ray 1-yard run (2pt. pass failed)
4th: Hillsboro - Dylan McCammack 2-yard pass from Jace Tuetken (2pt. pass failed)
4th: Staunton - Kyle Favre 35-yard pass from Ury (Hollie Bekeske kick)
4th: Staunton - Kyle Favre 49-yard pass from Ury (Hollie Bekeske kick)
4th: Hillsboro - Zinnen Kenney safety
Passing: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 10-23-115, 1 TD; Staunton - Zach Ury 11-13-251, 4 TD.
Rushing: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 16-101, Jonah Harkins 12-53, Joey Lipe 3-35, Ben Taylor 3-9, Jude Bertolino 1-4, Drew Willman 2-1; Staunton - Zach Ury 11-101, Devin Ray 20-74, Kyle Favre 2-1.
Receiving: Hillsboro - Jonah Harkins 3-47, Jude Bertolino 1-33, Joey Lipe 1-22, Ben Taylor 1-3, Dylan McCammack 1-2; Staunton - Kyle Favre 4-169, Colin Mullenix 3-20, Devin Ray 1-7.
Defense (Solo/Assist): Hillsboro - Jonah Harkins 8/0; Drew Willman 5/2; Andrew Law 3/4; Zinnen Kenney 1/5; Jackson Hamby 4/1; Joey Lipe 3/1; Magnus Wells 4/0; Aiden Scroggins 3/0; Curtis Segrest 2/1; Brett Cunningham 1/1, 1 sack; Dom Bates 2/1; Jude Bertolino 0/2; Dylan McCammack 1/1; Finn Tyszko 1/1; Maddox Scott 1/0; Jace Tuetken 0/1.