Tate Erkenbrecher, Contributor
WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — With a mix of quickness and success in the trenches, Miami Trace stayed perfect with a win over Hillsboro on Friday.
The Panthers (2-0, 1-0 FAC) earned a 28-13 victory over the Indians to start Frontier Athletic Conference action, though penalties seemed to have a huge impact on both teams throughout the night.
Miami Trace, however, had more speed when it came to moving the ball from a rushing aspect in the second quarter of play.
In the first quarter, both teams struggled offensively.
Hillsboro’s Nicholas Lewis had an early reception for 14 yards but the drive eventually ended in a punt. Likewise, the Panthers’ Weston Melvin threw a 15-yard pass to Preston Reed during the team’s second possession, but penalties prevented movement for remainder of the first quarter.
Hillsboro (0-2, 0-1 FAC) started the second quarter with a three and out, giving Miami Trace the ball with 10:05 left on the clock. Josh Gilmore had a big 16-yard reception, but on the next play, Jayden LeBeau fumbled the ball and Hillsboro’s Garrett Fannin picked it up.
Nothing came of the Tribe getting possession. In fact, both teams continued having penalty problems and were forced to punt until 2:58 left in the second quarter.
That’s when Josh Gilmore finally added six points to the scoring column for the Panthers on a 35-yard punt return for a touchdown, giving MT a 7-0 lead after the PAT.
Cameron Roberts, Travis Ross, and Cameron Smart of Hillsboro did not let the touchdown hurt the team’s morale as they rallied the troops to fight back. But eventually, the Panthers’ defense locked the Indians’ efforts down.
After a seven-yard loss, a failed fake punt attempt ended in with an interception from Gilmore. He returned the INT 12 yards before logging a 24-yard rushing touchdown, making it 14-0 at halftime.
On the first play of the third quarter, Hillsboro fumbled the ball and the Panthers pounced. Shortly after, Melvin threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Gilmore, putting MT ahead by a 21-0 tally at the 11:37 mark.
The Panthers finalized their scoring column with 7:08 left in the third when Melvin added a 10-yard touchdown run.
Down 28-0, the Indians decided to arrive to the scoring party.
With 44 seconds left in the third, Bryce Parsons got the team on the board with a one-yard touchdown run, cutting the lead to 28-7. Then, after Hillsboro forced a turnover on downs, Travis Ross found pay dirt from three yards out with 5:38 remaining to produce the night’s final of 28-13.
The FAC contest ended with back-to-back interceptions before Miami Trace sealed the deal on a league victory.
Melvin ended the night 8-of-15 passing for 114 yards alongside two touchdowns and an interception. Gilmore caught five passes for 91 yards and two scores, and LeBeau had 12 carries for 30 yards.
For Hillsboro, Chris Stout was 13-of-30 passing for 123 yards and two picks. Parsons gained 36 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while Rober Cameron led the team in receiving with 43 yards on four receptions.
All in all, the Panthers posted 172 total yards compared to Hillsboro’s 175. However, Miami Trace only had the football for 16:30 while the Indians held possession for 31:30.
Miami Trace’s defense forced four turnovers and limited the Indians to an average of 1.1 yards per play — Hillsboro ran 70 plays.
Miami Trace will be back in action next week, hosting McClain, while the Indians look to bounce back, at home, against Chillicothe.