Hillsboro freshman quarterback Preston Fauber scores three rushing TDs in first varsity start, Friday against the Clermont Northeastern. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Hillsboro freshman quarterback Preston Fauber scores three rushing TDs in first varsity start, Friday against the Clermont Northeastern. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
HILLSBORO — The tone was set early by the Hillsboro Indians in Week 5, with the offense having a 16-play drive that finished in the end zone. From there, the defense took over against the Clermont Northeastern Rockets in Friday’s homecoming game, with the Indians winning by a 31-14 score. 

The Indians’ victory in their final non-conference game of the season saw them not only win their third straight game, but improve to 3-2 at the midway point of the ’22 season. 

The drive that started the game for the Indians — who won the coin toss and elected to receive the football — began on their own 15-yard line following a penalty on the kickoff. The first play of the game was a 10-yard run for a first down by Travis Ross, followed by two runs for seven yards combined by Dom Smart. 

On third down, Ross had a 3-yard gain, then Smart followed with runs of two and four yards to set up a third down play from the Indians’ 41-yard line. On third-and-4, freshman quarterback Preston Fauber — making his first varsity start — had a screen pass to Ross for a gain of eight yards and a first down. 

From there, Austin Barrett — who had a historic, record-setting game last Friday night — continued his hard style of rushing with gains of three and eight yards for a first down, getting the ball to the CNE 40-yard line. 

The drive continued with Hillsboro chipping away yardage, as Jevin Hochstuhl had a gain of four yards, followed by Barrett racing for a 16-yard run on second down. With the ball on the CNE 36-yard line, Barrett had an 8-yard rush, followed by a run of one yard by Hochstuhl. 

On third down, Barrett (also known to many as Gator) gained a first down on a 2-yard run, making it first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. Hochstuhl battled for a 3-yard run, and on second-and-goal Hochstuhl finished the drive with his first varsity touchdown run of five yards with 4:31 left in the quarter.

Nick Turner’s PAT attempt was good, putting the Indians ahead 7-0, completing a drive that lasted seven minutes and 16 seconds of game time. 

“I am very pleased. It was a good game,” Hillsboro head coach Nathan Horne said. “It was a good drive and methodically just kind of plugging away, and sometimes that’s what we do. They were taking some things away from Austin, so we had to go some other routes, but it was a very efficient drive. You always like to see that clock chew up.”

Now it was the defense’s turn to continue the tough nature of the Indians’ play, with Deegan Bloomfield gaining a fumble recovery for HHS on the second play of offense by CNE, with 3:29 left in the first quarter. HHS gained possession of the ball on the CNE 32-yard line. 

Though the Indians had a turnover on downs, they did end the first quarter, and the defense continued to play strong with Dorian Stewart having his first tackle for loss of the game. Nic Burns kept the Rockets from converting on third down, forcing a punt.

A few plays later, HHS punted as well, but the defense of HHS stepped up again with another turnover as Ayden Clemons recovered a fumble with 3:48 left in the second quarter. 

This time, Hillsboro put together a touchdown drive following a turnover with the drive consisting of six plays (all rushes) for 57 yards. That included Smart having 11 yards rushing in the drive, Ross having a 9-yard run and Barrett adding 20 yards of rushing, including a 6-yard touchdown run with 1:51 left in the first half. The 2-point attempt failed for HHS, leaving the Indians ahead, 13-0. 

The Indians’ defense kept CNE scoreless in the first half, as the next drive saw Jack Wagoner break up a pass on third down, and the duo of Barrett and Stewart combined for a sack on fourth down to create a TOD. 

“The defense played really well tonight,” Horne said. “We had some drives (on offense) where Preston showed his youth a little bit. It was just timing, and we aren’t there just yet with a new quarterback, but the defense held up for us, and that helped get the offense back on track for sure.”

The 13-point lead stood when halftime arrived, and the HHS defense continued from where they left off with another fumble recovery with 10:09 left in the third as Bloomfield fell onto the football to give the Indians possession. That drive also included a combined tackle for loss by Stewart and Ryan Mau. 

As the game continued and both defenses stood strong, the HHS offense finally broke past the defense of CNE again in the third quarter with a drive of five rushing plays that finished with Fauber keeping the ball on an option play, leaving the freshman quarterback running for a 12-yard touchdown run, the first varsity touchdown of his career with 3:26 left in the third. The PAT was blocked, but the Indians still led 19-0. 

CNE reached the end zone with 2:20 left in the third quarter, as Grant Brown on third down — via a play called by former HHS head coach and now CNE offensive coordinator Jack O’Rourke — gained a 52-yard touchdown reception. The PAT was no good, leaving the score 19-6 in favor of the home team.

HHS was back in the end zone with 10:46 left in the third with Fauber running for his second touchdown of the game, on third-and-goal, for a 3-yard score. The snap was dropped on the PAT attempt, leaving the Indians ahead, 25-6. 

Hillsboro built a 31-6 lead with a 4-yard touchdown run by Fauber, on a fourth-and-goal play, with 5:33 left in regulation for his third rushing score of the game. The 2-point pass attempt was incomplete for a 31-6 lead.

“We were running triple option, and they (CNE) were really keying in on Austin, but then we finally got the confidence of holding that ball and we saw the result of that,” Horne said of the improved play of his freshman quarterback throughout the game. “We like to see that, especially with a young kid and scoring three touchdowns on his first night out, and I’m sure we’ll see many more of those with his career to come. He’s a great kid and absolutely loves football.”

CNE’s final touchdown of the game came with 1:33 left in the fourth quarter as Brown had a catch for a 24-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone. The 2-point run was good for what became the final score of 31-14. 

The loss by CNE leaves them at 2-3 overall, and the Indians improve to 3-2 on the season. 

Next for Hillsboro is their Frontier Athletic Conference opener on Friday, Sept. 23, when they travel to Gardner Park to face the Washington Blue Lions, who are 4-1 overall this season. In Week 5, the Blue Lions defeated St. Charles, 50-21. 

Prior to Friday night's game, Hillsboro crowned Chloe Masslow as homecoming queen and Bryce Parsons as homecoming king.