A tough one to lose

Hillman’s winning streak ends with loss to Cardinals

News Photo by James Andersen Hillman running back Caine Hunt (33) is tackled by Whittemore-Prescott’s Bobby Maxwell (3) during the first quarter of a football game on Friday at Hillman High School.

HILLMAN–For the second straight season, the Hillman football team will go all in for its final regular season finale.

Kyle Colton threw four touchdowns and Whittemore-Prescott edged the Tigers 42-41 on Friday at Hillman High School.

The loss ends a four-game winning streak for the Tigers (4-4) and puts the onus on them to earn a win next week to have a chance at qualifying for the playoffs.

“The boys didn’t give up all. Whittemore-Prescott, we knew they were going to be tough, we knew they had some fast players,” Hillman coach Bill Koenig said. “We put pressure on them, we just couldn’t finish off what we needed to do.”

Colton’s 20-yard touchdown strike to Bobby Maxwell with 6:39 to play and a subsequent conversion run by Colton gave Whittemore lead for good. Colton fumbled the snap on the play, but was able to recover and find Maxwell in the end zone, separated from a pair of Hillman defenders.

The win also gives Whittemore (4-4) a shot at a playoff berth with a win next week.

Hillman got two chances to try and rally, but couldn’t do it. The ensuing drive after Whittemore’s touchdown ended with an interception on fourth down after a holding penalty turned a 4th-and-3 into 4th-and-long.

After a Whittemore punt, Hillman got the ball back on its 15 with 3:02 left. Hillman moved the ball well with punishing runs and short sideline passes, but stalled after a pass gave it 2nd-and-short on Whittemore’s 37. A second down pass fell incomplete and after Hillman was whistled for a false start, pass attempts on third and fourth down fell incomplete.

“We played a little ballsy tonight. We tried a few things we’ve been working on for the last few weeks,” Koenig said. “We mishandled a couple of plays and we wiggled on the line of scrimmage when we shouldn’t have and got some illegal procedures and offsides and that and got some penalties when we didn’t need them.”

Hillman held a 27-8 lead late in the second quarter, but in a matter of seconds the Cardinals turned the tables. Colton scored on a one-yard run with 21.4 seconds left to make it 27-14. On the ensuing kickoff, Jared Juergens attempted a pass to a teammate across the field after fielding the kick and the ball was bobbled. It was recovered by Michael Eagan at Hillman’s eight yard line. One play later, Colton found Maxwell for an eight-yard strike.

In just 14 seconds, Whittemore rallied from a 27-8 deficit to make it 27-20 at halftime.

“I think for a while there we thought the game was just about over in the first half and took our eye off the ball and got caught flat-footed,” Koenig said. “You can’t do that against a team like this.”

Ridge Schutte needed just one play to give Whittemore the lead to open the third quarter, rumbling 67 yards to the end zone. A conversion pass from Colton to Dana Thorson gave Whittemore a 28-27 lead, it’s first of the game.

The two teams traded scores on the next two drives with Caine Hunt’s nine-yard touchdown run and a conversion giving Hillman a 35-34 lead. Colton found Tony Lyons for a five-yard score, but the missed conversion kept Hillman out front.

Colton was 11-for-20 for 227 yards and four touchdowns and Maxwell had six catches for 133 yards and three touchdowns. Schutte led Whittemore on the ground with 155 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Kyler Moir’s one-yard keeper on 4th-and-goal gave Hillman a 41-34 lead late in the third quarter. but the missed conversion gave Whittemore an opening which the Cardinals later pounced on.

Hillman’s late struggles overshadowed a solid start, which saw the Tigers contain the Cardinals for the better part of a half.

Moir found Juergens for a 78-yard touchdown to open the scoring and a four yard touchdown run by Billy Kolcan and PAT by Anton Schulze gave Hillman a 13-0 lead after 12 minutes.

An 34-yard interception by Kolcan was returned for a touchdown and gave Hillman a 19-0 lead with 7:02 left in the half.

Colton got Whittemore on the board with a 30-yard pass to Maxwell and ran in a conversion to make it 19-8 with 6:53 left in the half. A four-yard score and conversion from Hunt gave Hillman its 27-8 lead before Whittemore’s late rally.

Hunt finished with 170 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Moir was 9-for-20 for 191 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Juergens had three catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Friday’s loss puts Hillman in a familiar situation. After an 0-3 start last year, the Tigers rallied to finish 5-4 in the regular season after a win their finale. They’ll attempt to do the same thing again next week on the road at Inland Lakes.

“We’ll celebrate this one as one that got away from us and get ready for Inland Lakes,” Koenig said. “It’s do-or-die now and hopefully we can still get in at 5-4 and we’ll see how the season goes.”