HILLSBORO — After an 0-2 start, the Hillsboro Indians were able to ring the victory bell Friday night at Richards Memorial Field following a 41-27 victory over visiting East Clinton.
It also was the first victory for Indians head coach Nathan Horne, the son of former longtime Hillsboro and Wilmington coach Jim Horne.
“It sure feels good to get the monkey off my back and the kids did a great job,” said Horne. “Our offense really got it going tonight and the defense came up strong. It was a nice all-around effort.”
Sophomore running back Dom Smart spear-headed the Indians offensive attack with three touchdowns, including a 46-yard effort to put the Indians in front on their first series of the game.
East Clinton took the lead early in the second quarter, following a muffed Indians punt. Dameon Williams recovered the miscue at the Indians 20. He scored the Astro touchdown at the 9:27 mark in the second quarter and completed the two-point conversion attempt, hooking up with Adran Baker, giving East Clinton an 8-6 lead.
The lead was short-lived as the Indians went back on top on the ensuing drive, with an 18-yard run by Smart to the end zone. Nick Turner added the PAT to put Hillsboro ahead, 13-8.
Hillsboro capitalized on an EC turnover in the next series when Austin Barrett stripped the ball away from an Astro ballcarrier at the EC 12. Travis Ross took it the distance and Turner’s kick gave the Indians a 20-8 lead. Barrett scored the Indians third touchdown of the quarter on a run from six yards, and Turner’s PAT gave the Indians a 27-8 advantage.
The Astros responded with a late touchdown right before intermission, thanks to a fumble recovery by Liam McPherson. Williams set up the touchdown with an over the shoulder grab and scored from one yard out, making it a 27-14 Hillsboro lead at halftime.
Hillsboro extended the lead to 34-14 on an 18-yard run by Smart, his second TD of the night, midway through the third quarter. East Clinton responded with a scoring drive of its own on a quarterback keeper by Lukas Runk, but the two-point conversion attempt was foiled by an interception by Nic Burns.
Hillsboro stretched the lead to 41-20 with 6:28 to go in the final quarter on a keeper by Smart and Turner added the PAT.
Williams scored his third touchdown of the night for the Astros with 4:37 remaining in regulation, and Runk added the PAT kick to make it a 41-27 contest, but the Astros would get no closer.
With the loss, East Clinton falls to 1-2 overall, but Astro head coach Steve Olds was pleased with his squad’s effort.
“I am really proud of my kids, we never quit,” said Olds. “We made a lot of improvement on offense, but our defense has to get better. We’ve got about 27 kids dressed, but they play with a lot of heart.”
East Clinton will host the McClain Tigers Friday night, while Hillsboro will host Williamsburg.