It wasn’t easy, but Tiger football hit its stride in Hillsboro to head into the postseason on a high note.
Glen Rose (5-5, 2-2) scored twice in the last 3:31 of the Friday, Nov. 8 contest against the Hillsboro Eagles (3-7, 1-3) to win 41-26 and earn the top 7-3A seed in Div. II.
“It doesn’t matter how you get it done,” said coach Tommy Dunn. “We knew we wanted to win to improve our playoff seed and we did whatever it took. Guys overcame adversity and got good results.”
Despite a turnover on the very first play of the night when Hillsboro recovered an onside kick, Glen Rose won the turnover battle 3-1. The Tigers also tallied more first downs (20-14).
The Tigers passed for 172 yards and averaged 10.7 yards per attempt. Most of that production came from Colten Lane, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 13 times for 81 yards and recovered a Hillsboro onside kick late in the fourth quarter.
“Colten did a good job managing the offense and made some plays,” Dunn said.
Hayden Holder threw one pass of his own, which went for an 11-yard touchdown. He ran 17 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns, plus he caught five passes for 61 yards and another score.
“It was tough,” Holder said. “The first couple of drives we couldn’t do much, then we finally got it together with the linemen blocking really well.”
Carlin Linnabery also found success on the ground with 10 carries for 68 yards. As a team, Glen Rose rushed for 293 yards at a clip of 6.3 yards per tote.
Freshman Ethan Hartman was second in receiving with three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.
“The seniors on this football team are amazing,” Hartman said. “They have great character and helping them get the first seed in the playoffs – they deserve it for their hard work.”
Colton Bumpas was the third-leading receiver with two catches for 40 yards.
Sam Strother loomed large for the Tigers. In addition to an 11-yard touchdown reception, he recovered two fumbles to go with a forced fumble and a tackle for loss.
“We really stepped up to clinch the first seed like we needed to,” Strother said. “The first quarter wasn’t pretty, but we got it together.”
Kevin Uehlein intercepted a pass and blocked a Hillsboro PAT.
“This was definitely a confidence booster,” Uehlein said. “We know we can win close games and it will encourage us to work harder in practice.”
Weston Clifton had two fourth-down tackles in the second half - including a tackle for loss.
“Weston is a real quiet player, but he had another strong game like you hope for from your seniors,” Dunn said.
Nathan Smith had a tackle for loss and a critical deep pass breakup late in the fourth.
“That’s a tough assignment for Nathan (covering speed merchant Deontre Richardson),” Dunn said. “We tried to help him all we could and he did a pretty good job all night long staying with that guy. Nathan had the willpower to get the job done.”
Hayden Swearengin made a sack, while R.J. Darch and Robbie Serrano each had a tackle for loss. Top tacklers included Uehlein (10), Clifton (8) and Smith (8).
“(The Eagles) aren’t a great passing team, but they do enough to keep you off-balance,” Dunn said. “At times, we were able to get some good pressure on them.”
Eagle quarterback Blake Divin averaged just 5.3 yards per attempt, as he completed four of 11 passes for 59 yards and an interception. His top receiver was Richardson (1-29).
Hillsboro was productive on the ground with 222 yards and averaged five yards per carry. Top rushers were Ricky Williams (15-116, 2 TD), Doyle Hughes (13-111, TD) and Richardson (4-40).
The fastest player in 7-3A, Richardson got a touchdown on a 93-yard kick return.
“We’d done such a good job on kickoff (coverage) all year long, but (Richardson) got one and reversed field,” Dunn said. “Once he got to the edge, we knew he was gone. We did do a good job punting away from him all night.”