Hillsboro Grinds Out Big Win Over Jackson

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Hillsboro needed to pull out their best play.

Down 14-13 and facing a 4th and 5 on the Jackson 9-yard line with just over five minutes to play in the game, the Indians needed to find a way into the end zone to keep their playoff chances alive.

The play the Hillsboro chose may not have been their best play, but it got them into the endzone.

The play was a play action pass from Mason Swayne to Mark Gallimore and it gave Hillsboro the lead.

Swayne would throw another touchdown in overtime on 3rd and 13 to give Hillsboro (7-1, 2-1 FAC) a 27-21 win over the Ironmen (5-3, 2-1 FAC) to spoil their Senior Night.

It was clear early in the first quarter that this game would be a battle for both teams. Despite starting their opening possession on the Jackson 10-yard line thanks to a long kickoff return by Josh Keets, the Indians were kept out of the end zone on 4th and Goal from the two yard line when Swayne’s sneak attempt was stuffed.

The first quarter would end in a scoreless tie.

Early in the second quarter, the game’s first major turning point would come on a Hillsboro punt, but not in the way that is expected.

After the Indians punter shanked a punt that would have set up the Ironmen with great field position at the Hillsboro 35, a flag was thrown on the Jackson sideline. The Ironmen were called for illegal participation and penalized 15 yards and the Indians were given a first down.

Hillsboro converted on their second chance and drove down to score the games first touchdown on a two yard plunge from fullback Deon Burns gave the Indians a 7-0 lead just over halfway through the second quarter.

Jackson wasted no time responding to the touchdown with one of their own. Jared Icenhower lobbed a perfect pass to Brody Landrum in the front of the end zone to tie the game at seven with 2:31 to go until the half.

The Indians were driving to retake the lead before the half, but Swayne was picked off by Reid Evans deep in Ironmen territory and it would be Jackson who would get to take a lead into the locker room thanks to the Icenhower-to-Landrum connection.

This time, Landrum was left uncovered up the seam and the junior quarterback found him for the 27-yard score to give the Ironmen a 14-7 lead.

After forcing a three and out on Jackson’s first possession, Hillsboro was faced with having to drive 91 yards to tie the game.

They did just that, taking 12 plays and almost seven minutes off the clock, when Swayne kept the ball on the option and ran up the middle and in to the end zone untouched for the score.

The Indians, however, did not tie the game. The ensuing PAT was missed wide right and Jackson held on to a 14-13 lead with four minutes to play in the third quarter.

After forcing another Jackson punt, the Indians took over at their own 30 late in the third quarter.

From there, they proceeded to march down the field in a methodical fashion. Hillsboro took 17 plays and over seven minutes off the clock to go the 70 yards to find the end zone.

However, Jackson still had over four minutes left to tie the game back up at 21. The Ironmen started the drive with great field position at their own 46.

After picking up a clutch first down despite being faced with a 3rd and 15, Brice Graham would find the end zone to force the game into overtime.

Jackson started overtime with the ball, but turned the ball over in the end zone on their third play.

All Hillsboro had to do to win was score, and after consecutive losses to start their possession, it wasn’t looking like they would.

But they dialed up their passing attack one more time and scored again.

Swayne lobbed to a wide open Luke Middleton for the 23 yard score and the Hillsboro victory.

The Indians’ rushing attack was led by Burns, who finished the night with 114 yards on the ground. Gallimore was right behind him with 108 rushing yards.


Icenhower turned in a good night throwing and running, finishing with 106 yards through the air and another 64 on the ground.


The Jackson offense, which had exploded for 69 points in each of their last two games, was held in check by the Hillsboro defense. The Indians only gave up 268 total yards on the night.


The win for the Indians puts them in the driver’s seat to make the playoffs in region 11. Winning their final two games would lock them into the top eight in the region.


Hillsboro finishes the season with two games against the bottom of the FAC standings with games against McClain and Miami Trace.


For Jackson, it’s a bit murkier. They face a must-win game in two weeks when they travel to Chillicothe.


The Ironmen can’t overlook next week’s matchup against the high-powered Washington Court House offense.