HILLSBORO — A slow start again Friday night put Wilmington in a 15-point deficit. But the Hurricane, possibly comfortable with that early hole, scored 28 unanswered points and went on to a 61-36 South Central Ohio League victory over Hillsboro at Richards Memorial Field.
Wilmington is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league. The Indians, coached by Jack O’Rourke, are now 1-4 overall and 0-2 in league play.
Freshman quarterback Brady Evans was involved in five touchdowns in the runaway victory. He passed for three — two to Matt Smith and one to Tony Merritt — and ran for two. Adam Phelps and Merritt both had one rushing score.
Things did not start well for WHS, who was playing with do-it-all junior Dylan Beaugard on the sidelines in street clothes.
Hunter Chain engineered two early scoring drives for Hillsboro and Scott Killen’s squad faced a 15-0 deficit. But down 15-0, the Hurricane stormed back with vengeance.
It wasn’t easy, though.
Wilmington’s initial response to the Indians 15-0 lead was a long kickoff return for touchdown by Merritt. The fans were happy. The WHS sidelines was finally enthused. The officials … not so much. The TD was wiped out on a WHS penalty.
Undaunted, Wilmington scored another touchdown as Evans maneuvered through the Indians defense. Again, a WHS penalty took the points off the scoreboard.
Evans then went 18 yards into the end zone for an apparent WHS touchdown but there was yet another flag on the play. This one, though, was against Hillsboro and the score stood. Henry’s extra point made it 15-7.
After the Hurricane defense gave the ball back to the offense, Phelps, who scored four touchdowns last week, reached paydirt for the first time in this one with a 68-yard touchdown run. Henry’s kick made it 15-14.
The WHS scoring onslaught continued in the second quarter when Evans ran it in from five yards out. Henry’s kick gave Wilmington its first lead 21-15.
Following a DJ Ames interception to stop a Hillsboro threat, Evans passed six yards to Smith and the Henry kick put WHS up 28-15 with 3:40 to play in the half.
After the Indians scored to make it 28-22, Wilmington answered quickly when Evans hit Merritt for a score and a 34-22 lead at 1:18. Kyler Reed then recovered a fumble and went for a touchdown and just like that it was 41-22 at the half.
The two teams combined for 638 yards on offense in the first half. Wilmington had 218 yards rushing and 117 yards passing.
Neither team was inspired offensively in the early third quarter. But Hillsboro’s Britton Haines returned an interception 80 yards then kicked the PAT to make it 41-29.
Merritt put Wilmington on his back on the ensuing drive, snaking his way through the Hillsboro defense for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 47-29.
The Hurricane kept the scoreboard whirring like a slot machine as Evans passed to Smith who turned it into a 57-yard catch and run. With 25 seconds to play in the third, Henry cashed in the extra point for a 54-29 lead.
Jake Vaughan halted an Indians drive in the fourth quarter with an interception, back to back possessions where each team turned the ball over through the air.
Following the Vaughan pick, Evans went 85 yards for an apparent touchdown but a WHS penalty again took points off the board.
The Indians took their turn at wiping points off the board late in the game when a touchdown run was called off because of a holding penalty. Hillsboro had approximately 30 yards of offense in the second half.
Phelps capped the scoring with a 54-yard burst right through the teeth of the Hillsboro defense with 2:20 to play. Henry’s PAT wrapped up the scoring.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports