(Hillsboro) The Hillsboro Hawks won a big rivalry game Friday night-barely.
Hillsboro held on to score a crucial conference and district by beating the Festus Tigers 34-29 on KJFF in an all-timer.
The Hawks got the ball to begin the action and ran the ball at will in an opening scoring drive.
Festus punted on its opening drive, and Hillsboro was on the move before the Tigers made a huge defensive play.
A Festus offense known for big plays cashed in the turnover 2 plays later.
With the game tied heading into the second quarter, the Tigers turned from their aerial assault to the run game and senior Kaian Roberts-Day.
A 23-yard run highlighted a drive that Roberts-Day dominated on his way to the go-ahead score.
But Hillsboro’s run game would not be outshown, continuing to pound the rock behind star junior tailback Jaxin Patterson.
The game would be tied at 13 heading into halftime.
Festus got the ball to start the third quarter and was on the move before the Hawks defense made its mark.
Hillsboro almost immediately turned the takeaway into points.
The Hawks made big plays running the ball, but Festus kept countering with big pass plays.
Hillsboro kept wearing the Tiger defense down with the run game, but it wasn’t just Patterson getting into the end zone.
Festus would head into the fourth quarter turning again to the big-play combination of Cole Rickermann and Arhmad Branch.
The Tigers still trailed by two, but they got off the field and drove into the red zone before they turned to special teams and kicker Emily Holt.
But Hillsboro’s ferocious rushing attack would not be denied, and Patterson put his team back on top.
Festus got the ball last and was in a position to win the game in the final minute.
But the Hawks found a way to survive.
Hillsboro head coach Bill Sucharski described the final moments.
Patterson rushed for 255 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Applebee’s of Farmington Player of the Game said his teammates embraced the frantic finish.
Hillsboro improves to 2-0 in conference play and 4-1 overall.
Festus falls to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the MAFC Red Division.
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