When the Hillsboro High School class of 2020 meets for a reunion sometime in the future, the 11 senior members of the football team can remember their 61-16 football victory over Litchfield on senior night as the game they scored so many points that the scoreboard on Sawyer Field malfunctioned. The time was kept by the officials on the field after the big board died with the Toppers leading 41-8 at halftime, so few noticed when the lead reached forty points to cause a continuous clock.
Litchfield's offense consisted primarily of three players: quarterback Clayton Walch, a threat to run and pass; halfback Drew Hartzell, who scored half of his team's 16 points (Walch owned the other half); and Blaine Stewart, a receiver with five receptions for 131 yards.
Hillsboro's offensive line (tight end Dylan McCammack, tackles Ian Malloy and Cooper Holcomb, guards Brett Cunningham and Brady Huber, and center Finn Tysko (along with Magnus Wells, who fills in at either center and guard if one of the starters is injured)) opened gaping holes for the Topper backs to use. The Toppers ran the ball 50 times, gaining 589 yards.
Leading the rushers were three back (out of the power I) Jonah Harkins (197 yards, three touchdowns); tailback Joey Lipe (two touchdowns, 206 yards - 114 on six carries, none under 20 yards, in the second quarter); and quarterback Jace Tuetken (three touchdowns, 84 yards on only 9 carries). The other touchdown belonged to freshman Blaze Helton, who had three carries for 77 yards in the last quarter.
Especially noticeable to an appreciative crowd was the reaction of placekicker Chance Murray after his first successful point after touchdown kick of the season in the first period. A soccer player until this fall, he had only one chance for a PAT over the first seven games. In this game he had four points.
Litchfield was charged with three turnovers. As safety, Tuetken intercepted a long Walch pass on the Litchfield 48 to end the Panthers' second possession. In three plays (a 22 yard rush by Harkins, a five yard run by Lipe, and a 25 yard keeper by Tuetken) the Toppers scored their second touchdown. Harkins carried for the extra points.
The Purple's first turnover, a fumble recovered by linebacker Jackson Hamby on the Panthers' 37, contributed to the first score. Harkins collected that one, running over a tackler on his 10 yard jaunt. A pass for the extra points was incomplete.
Hamby also contributed to the third score. Litchfield faced a fourth down and 8 on the Topper 35 when Hamby tackled Walch as he dropped to pass for a six yard loss. Five plays later Tuetken scored from the 11; that's when Murray added his first career point despite problems with the snap and hold.
The second quarter was Lipe's most productive. His first touch, with 8:58 left in the half, was a 41 yard burst up the middle for a touchdown. Litchfield's small-in-numbers pool of players was more reduced when senior lineman Hunter Niemann was injured on the play.
Lipe's next carry went for 23 yards; he followed that with a 20 yard carry, then a 23 yard dash for a td. Finally he carried twice for 46 yards just as the half ended. If he needed more to make his senior night memorable, he also recovered an onside kick on the Litchfield 45. (That was Litchfield's third turnover of the half).
Litchfield's second quarter score almost didn't happen. A 52 yard Walch to Stewart pass moved the ball to Hillsboro's 10, and a personal foul call gave the visitors half of those ten yards. Then an illegal procedure call hurt the Panthers, as did a 15 yard personal foul penalty on the next play. Needing 25 yards for a score, Walch handed to Hartzell, who gained eight; after an incompletion, Walch threw toward the front west corner of the end zone. Tuetken intercepted at his 1, shook his foot free from the receiver's grasp, and returned to his 23, where he was tackled, perhaps out-of-bounds. Topper fans waited for another flag for the late hit.
The flag that cancelled that play, however, was a roughing the passer call on the Toppers that negated Tuetken's interception and return. Litchfield had the ball and a first down on the Topper 8. Hartzell scored on the next play and ran again for the extra points.
Almost everyone dressed for Hillsboro, including several freshmen, saw action in the fourth quarter; Helton, a linebacker and running back, scored the first time he carried the ball in a varsity contest. His touchdown from 23 yards away followed a holding penalty-cancelled score by sophomore back Joe Keiser and finished Hillsboro's scoring.
Litchfield had one touchdown left as they drove 75 yards using five plays. A Walch to John Corso 27 yard pass ignited the drive; Walch's 24 yard run finished it. Walch also ran for the last two points.
For seniors McCammack, Curtis Segrest, Lipe, Harkins, Hayden Pfiefer, Brett Cunningham, Gavin Roberts, Skyler Edrington, Tysko, Blake Clark, and Dom Bates, it was the last time to wear the orange and black uniforms; they'll be in white next Friday, Oct. 25, when they travel to Pana for their last conference game.
Litchfield will honor seniors Chase Dealey, Walch, Corso, Jefferson Thomas, Niemann, Austin DeWitt, and Dylan Maxwell next Friday evening as they welcome Carlinville to town. Kickoff time for both games is 7 p.m.
October 18 at Hillsboro
Litchfield (0-8) 0 8 0 8 16
Hillsboro (1-7) 21 20 13 6 60
1st: Hillsboro - Jonah Harkins 10-yard run (pass failed)
1st: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 25-yard run (Jonah Harkins run)
1st: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 11-yard run (Chance Murray kick)
2nd: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 41-yard run (Chance Murray kick)
2nd: Litchfield - Drew Hartzel 8-yard run (Drew Hartzel run)
2nd: Hillsboro - Jonah Harkins run (Chance Murray kick)
2nd: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 23-yard run (kick failed)
3rd: Hillsboro - Jonah Harkins 11-yard run (Chance Murray kick)
3rd: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 5-yard run (kick failed)
4th: Litchfield - Clayton Walch 24-yard run (Clayton Walch run).
Passing: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 0-1-0; Litchfield - Clayton Walch 6-19-158, John Corso 0-1-0.
Rushing: Hillsboro - Joey Lipe 10-206, Jonah Harkins 24-197, Jace Tuetken 9-84, Blaze Helton 3-77, Zane Duff 2-12, Joe Keiser 1-8, Jayden Jacobs 1-4; Litchfield - Drew Hartzell 15-69, Clayton Walch 14-56, Blaine Stewart 1-5.
Receiving: Litchfield - Blaine Stewart 5-131, John Corso 1-27.
Defense (Solo/Assists): Jackson Hamby 4/1, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery; Jonah Harkins 4/2; Dylan McCammack 3/0, 1 sack; Joey Lipe 4/0; Jude Bertolino 4/0; Magnus Wells 2/1; Curtis Segrest 3/0; Ben Taylor 3/0; Drew Willman 2/1; Tyson Compagni 1/1; Maddox Scott 1/1; Jace Tuetken 2/0; Zane Duff 1/1; Andrew Law 1/0; Ian Malloy 1/0; Dom Bates 1/0; Jaben Compton 1/0.