A-J opens postseason with win over visiting Hillsboro
The Hillsboro High School football team boasted a formidable passing attack going into the first round of the Illinois High School Association Class 3A playoffs at The Pit Saturday, Oct. 28.
But the host Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team limited that potent passing attack to 13 yards in posting a 22-8 win.
A-J head coach Brett Detering said that he was very pleased with how the Wildcat defense – and defensive backs – played against Hillsboro.
Detering said that a coach would have to be pleased when his team held an opponent to 13 passing yards in a playoff game.
Hilltoppers quarterback Dillon Civitate entered the game with 1,077 yards passing. He finished in the loss connecting on a dismal 2 of 11 passes for 13 yards total.
However, the Wildcats needed two fourth quarter TDs to seal the win.
With the game knotted at 8-8, quarterback Bryce Osman connected with Arieh Hart for a 57-yard touchdown pass at the end of a five-play drive.
Detering said consideration was given to attempting a field goal – “but Bryce was able to hit Hart to give our kids a huge lift.”
Jaryt Tripp kicked the extra point to boost the Wildcats to a 15-8 lead with 5:43 remaining in the final quarter.
On the ensuing drive, the Hilltoppers were forced to punt on a fourth down deep in their own territory.
A-J’s Damien Chrisp blocked Civitate’s punt to give the Wildcats possession at Hillsboro’s 18 yard line.
Five plays later, Osman scored on a four-yard run. Tripp closed out the scoring with the extra point kick with 2:00 remaining in the game.
Hillsboro was forced to punt on its opening drive to begin the game.
On A-J’s first play from scrimmage, center Carsten Christy went down with an apparent knee injury. His status is unknown for this weekend’s game.
Garrett Fabec then took over center duties the rest of the way.
“Fabec came in at center and did a nice job replacing Christy,” Detering said.
The Wildcats were then halted deep in Hilltopper territory on a fourth down play.
After forcing a punt, A-J’s Osman’s pass was intercepted by Christian Hernandez.
Hillsboro had an incomplete pass on fourth down to thwart its next drive.
A-J’s offense then started clicking.
At the end of a 13-play drive, fullback Jayce Turner scored on a 16-yard run.
An offsides penalty on the extra point kick moved the Wildcats closer to the goal line.
Turner then scored the two-point conversion run for an 8-0 A-J lead with 3:50 remaining in the second quarter.
The Hilltoppers bounced right back. Running back Gunner Lentz scored on a 10-yard run to cap a five-play drive.
Quarterback Civitate passed to Hernandez for the two-point conversion and the game was knotted 8-8 with 1:54 remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats rushed for 210 yards in the game, with Osman leading the way with 107 rushing yards on 22 carries. Turner had 84 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Osman was 2 of 7 passing for 60 yards and an interception. Hart had both receptions.
“It was a great win for us,” Detering said. “You’ve got to give our kids credit. Our kids kind of took a pounding because it was a physical game.”
The Hilltoppers rushed for 161 yards, with Lentz leading the way with 132 yards rushing.
The weather for Saturday afternoon’s playoff game in Union County was cold, which was a new experience this season for the home team.
“It was the first time all year our kids have played in cold weather,” Detering said, noting it didn’t make any difference. “Our kids continued to fight.”