Hillsboro's Silas Simmons scores a touchdown for the Indians in the second half, Friday at Astro Field. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Hillsboro's Silas Simmons scores a touchdown for the Indians in the second half, Friday at Astro Field. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
LEES CREEK — There was definitely a full moon out on Friday night in Week 3 of the high school football season, because there was a bit of everything happening between the Hillsboro Indians and the East Clinton Astros at Astro Field.

The uniqueness of the non-conference game played between the two former conference rivals from a few years past saw a game-opening kickoff returned for a touchdown, more personal fouls combined that one would like to count and two players ejected in the fourth quarter from the team that had the lead.

All in all, after the final second ticked off the scoreboard, it was the Indians being declared the winners over the young Astros by a 21-7 score on Friday the 13th.

The Indians (2-1) and Astros (1-2) unofficially combined for 13 personal fouls (15-yard penalties) with one on each side being offset. The Indians unofficially had seven 15-yard penalties (one offset) and the Astros had six (one offset) with both teams having those calls off various late hits, face masks and horse collar penalties, including two Hillsboro players being ejected with under four minutes to go on back-to-back plays.

“This was a hard-fought game, and we came out as winners, but I’m not happy with what I’ve seen,” Hillsboro head coach Jack O’Rourke said. “We have a lot of work to do. A lot of the kids played hard, but we had a lot of work to do.

“(Personal fouls) are definitely an issue. We won one, it wasn’t pretty, and now we have to go out, pick up the pieces and try to win another one.”

As for the game, Hillsboro senior Mark Gallimore got things rolling by returning the opening kickoff over 80 yards for the touchdown for a 6-0 lead. The Indians went for two points but were unable to convert the play, leaving them with a six-point lead.

Following consecutive punts, East Clinton put together their lone scoring drive of the game, starting at their own 41-yard line with 7:05 left in the first quarter. On the second play of the drive, the Astros had a first down when Jared Smith passed to Branson Smith for an 11-yard gain.

Next was a 1-yard rush by Todd Wedding, and following an incomplete pass, the Indians’ defense put pressure on Jared Smith, with Silas Simmons and Draven Stodgel putting immense pressure on the quarterback, resulting in an interception by defensive lineman Sanchez Seals, but the play was called back due to a horse collar take down called on the Indians.

Following offsetting personal foul calls, the Astros had the ball on the Hillsboro 34-yard line, and on second down, Jared Smith rushed for six yards. Another personal foul call on the Indians pushed the Astros to the 17-yard line, but Justin Smith made a sack for the Indians, making it second-and-18 on the HHS 25-yard line.

On that next play, the Astros went to the air with Jared Smith finding Branson Smith for a 25-yard touchdown reception with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter. The PAT by Phillip Davis pushed the Astros ahead by a 7-6 score.

East Clinton head coach Steve Olds spoke about the game and how his team has improved.

“We didn’t win on the scoreboard, but I’m really proud of our kids’ effort,” Olds said. “We said coming into the game we wanted to be physical and wanted Hillsboro to know they were in a football game. A year ago down there we got beat down, so being a 13-7 game late, we know we had a chance to score. And if we would have scored there, it would have turned out different … to flip it from 49-0 a year go to what we were about to do tonight, I feel pretty good about where we are going.

“I’m looking forward to going down there and playing next year, a year from now.”

After being forced to punt, the Indians regained possession of the football on the first play back on defense with lineman Draven Stodgel intercepting a pass with 11:42 left in the second quarter, returning the ball to the East Clinton 30-yard line for a gain of around 10 yards.

The Indians took full advantage of the opportune field position. On first down, Logan Hester rushed for five yards. Following a loss of one yard, Gallimore raced for gains of five yards and three yards, followed by a run of five yards by Hester on first down.

With the ball at the ECHS 13-yard line, Gallimore had a scamper of three yards, followed by a first down rush of three yards by Simmons. On first-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Gallimore powered his way near the pylon and over an EC defender for the touchdown with 7:20 left in the second quarter. The PAT by Brock Haines gave the Indians a 13-7 lead.

Gallimore unofficially finished the game with 27 carries for 153 yards and one touchdown run, plus the kickoff touchdown.

East Clinton and the Indians continued their physical play on the next drive as the Astros began on their own 29-yard line. On third down, there was a 15-yard face mask penalty called on the Indians, giving EC a first down on their own 46-yard line. A 32-yard rush by Jared Smith a few plays later took the Astros to the Indians’ 22-yard line.

Next came a handful of runs that eventually saw the Astros on the 2-yard line for a third-and-1 play. That play saw a fumbled handoff, putting the Astros back to the 5-yard line.

On fourth-and-5, the Indians’ goal line stand was completed by holding the Astros out of the end zone, forcing a turnover on downs to all but end play in the first half with a 13-7 lead.

Both teams were forced to punt on more than one occasion in the third quarter, and with 1:55 left in the third Justin Spears intercepted an East Clinton Pass on the HHS 7-yard line, stopping another scoring chance by EC.

The Indians were forced to punt again from the 45-yard line but eventually regained possession the ball with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter. On the upcoming drive, the Indians added another score, this time on first-and-goal from the 9-yard line when Simmons rushed nine yards to pay dirt and six points with 4:14 left in regulation. A two-point conversion pass from Spears to Keith Doughman left the Indians ahead 21-7.

Next for the Indians is an away game for Week 4 as they will be at Williamsburg. The Astros will also be on the road in Week 4 as they’ll be facing the McClain Tigers at McClain Field in Greenfield. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs.

“We are excited,” Olds said. “We are disappointed we didn’t win, but we are super excited. We want to come into tomorrow and get ready for McClain and keep doing what we are doing.”

(Editor’s note: A photo gallery will be added to the article.)