HILLMAN-It was an old-fashioned North Star League shootout at Friday's Hillman and Mio game and although the team's hung close in the first half, a dominant Mio passing attack and an unfortunate injury to Hillman running back Kenny Kolcan, gave the Thunderbolts the thrust they needed in the second half to take a 47-26 win.
"Second half, we came out and played steadier. Hopefully, some of the miles and miles of sprints have kept us strong in the second half, better focused from there. I think that made as much difference as what we were able to execute from there," Mio coach Jim Gendernalik said.
Mio (4-1, 3-1 North Star) scored first off a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brad Rhoads at 8:24 in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Mio’s Seth Thomey (white) jumps for the ball while Hillman’s Mason VanPamel (11) tries to block and Mike Klein (3) moves in for backup.
Rhoads threw for 374 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Hillman (3-2, 2-1 NSL) answered back off a big 60-yard pass from Ty Jones to Mike Klein at 7:30 in the first quarter. The conversion to Dylan Ross was good and Hillman took an 8-6 lead.
Klein led Hillman on the ground with 66 rushing yards and 62 reception yards. He also scored two touchdowns, one on the ground and in the air.
The Tigers capitalized on their next drive with a 20-yard pass to Kolcan for a touchdown with just under two minutes left in the quarter, to take a 14-6 lead.
The score didn't come without some worry. Kolcan limped off the field after his touchdown and stayed on the sideline until a few plays at the end of the game. Kolcan is the third leading rusher in the area, so his loss was critical.
"It's a big thing (losing Kolcan for the game). He's an integral part of what they do, and he gives them more options than what they have without him," Gendernalik said.
A touchdown catch by Colton McGregor less than a minute later knotted the game at 14.
McGregor had 153 reception yards and three scores while Bryson Devers had 79 reception yards and a touchdown. Seth Thomey had 121 reception yards.
The Tigers' pass defense struggled against Mio early in the second quarter, and McGregor gave Mio the lead for good on a 21-yard touchdown catch.
Hillman answered back. But, they did answer back five minutes later with a 50-yard pass to Mason VanPamel that set up a three-yard touchdown pass to Powers. A failed conversion left Hillman trailing 21-20.
Powers rushed for 38 yards to go along with his touchdown VanPamel caught three balls for 73 yards.
The Thunderbolts pushed hard again, and although Hillman's defense held Mio to only 167 rushing yards, it couldn't stop the pass.On a 4th- and-20 situation with three minutes left in the half, Rhoads threw a desperation pass to McGregor for a 30-yard touchdown. The extra point gave the Thunderbolts a 28-20 lead.
The second half started great for Hillman, who recovered up an onside kick, but Seth Thomey intercepted Jones a few plays later. Ross answered back by picking off a Rhoads pass two plays later.
Although Hillman continued to stop the run, Rhoads seemed to connect at will. McGregor was only happy to oblige, as was Chaun Obermiller and Mio scored with 3:41 left in the third off a three-yard Devers run to take a 34-20 lead.
Hillman's last touchdown came with 8:51 left on a one-yard run by Klein, narrowing the score to 34-26.
Mio continued to push down the field and Devers scored on a 14-yard with 4:32 left.
Jones then threw an interception in the first play of the answering drive. Mio capitalized by scoring its last touchdown off a 40-yard pass to Devers and added the extra point.
"I thought we come out flat, you know, we played with no emotion the first half and in the third quarter we came back out at half time. I thought we played better, but kinda gave up at the end, you know, once we turned the ball over. There was just no heart tonight," Hilman coach Bill Koenig said.
Mio faces Rogers City next week while Hillman faces Atlanta.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.