A new season of high school football got underway for the Western Brown Broncos on Aug. 24, as they hosted the Hillsboro Indians for their season opener at Kibler Stadium/LaRosa’s Field in Mt. Orab.
It was a non-league contest in which the Broncos trailed 30-14 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but would reach pay dirt twice in a valiant fourth quarter rally. Unfortunately for the Broncos and their many fans who came out to show their support in the season opener, the Bronco rally came a bit too little, too late. The Broncos would suffer a narrow 30-28 loss.
The Indians were excellent at commanding the clock with their strong running game.
Hillsboro’s senior quarterback Mason Swayne carried for two touchdowns, and senior running backs Deon Burns and Josh Keets each reached pay dirt twice on rushes.
It was Hillsboro lineman Lane Cluff recovering a Western Brown fumble in the fourth quarter to stifle a Bronco drive, marking one of the biggest plays of the night for the Indians.
It was a game in which the Broncos never led.
Keets topped off a Hillsboro drive with a nine yard touchdown carry with 7:57 to go in the first quarter, and following the successful attempt for the two-point conversion it was the Indians leading 8-0 early on.
While the Indians relied on their running game, the Broncos looked to their air attack on offense.
The Broncos found themselves at fourth down and 10 to go on the Hillsboro 30-yard line, and it was Western Brown’s senior quarterback Josh Taylor connecting with junior receiver Yani Williams to convert on fourth down with a 15 yard gain. Then it was Gary Powell III hauling in a pass to move the Broncos to the Hillsboro four yard line.
The Broncos were able to cap off the drive with a four yard touchdown run by senior Evan Luttrell.
The kick for the extra point was unsuccessful, and with 6:03 to go in the first quarter it was Hillsboro leading 8-6.
The 8-6 Hillsboro lead held until the second half, as both teams went scoreless in the second quarter of play.
The Indians expanded their lead to 16-6 with 7:11 to go in the third quarter, as Swayne capped off a drive with a six-yard run to pay dirt, followed by the successful two-point conversion attempt.
The Broncos were able to top off a drive with a four yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Williams with 4:06 to go in the third quarter. Taylor went on to complete a pass to junior receiver Keegan Collins for the two-point conversion, and Western Brown had cut the Indians’ lead to 16-14.
Down by two entering the fourth quarter, the Indians rose to a 22-14 lead with Swayne rushing for a 17 yard touchdown with 10:27 to go.
It was a Bronco fumble after a completed pass that brought the Hillsboro offense back on the field to work from the Western Brown 26 yard line with 10:10 to play.
The Indians were able to score once again off a five yard run to up their lead to 30-14.
Down but not out, the Broncos rallied back to cut the lead to 30-22 with Taylor taking it himself for a short touchdown, followed by a pass to Powell for the two-point conversion.
Coming off a change of possessions, the Bronco offense was on the move once again in the fourth quarter.
Taylor was able to connect with Luttrell for a touchdown with 3:46 remaining, and a successful two-point conversion would have tied the game. But the pass for the two-point conversion was tipped by a Hillsboro defender, falling incomplete.
The Indians relied on their running game to control the clock, eventually taking their victory formation and kneeling on the final two snaps.
Collins pulled down nine receptions for 86 yards, while Williams hauled in eight receptions for 86 yards.
Taylor led Bronco rushers with 11 carries for 71 yards.
The Broncos will venture to Little Miami for week two on the gridiron, Aug. 31.