The Gallatin High football team started the game like a desperate squad fighting for a shot at the postseason on Friday evening.
However, visiting Hillsboro turned desperation into despair in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns to pull away and hand the Green Wave a 28-13 loss at Calvin Short Field.
The loss, paired with Cane Ridge’s victory at Station Camp, eliminated the Green Wave from playoff contention with one game remaining.
“I was proud of the way our guys came out and fought tonight,” Gallatin head coach Mark Williams said. “It could have been easy to lay down and go through the motions, but they fought and gave everything they had.”
The Burros (6-3 overall, 5-1 in Region 6-5A) did their damage with short passes and play-action passes as quarterback Daylon Murphy completed 8 of 12 passes for 122 yards and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Hill with 9:51 remaining.
Williams pointed out that Hillsboro threw to the back out of the backfield.
“We prepared for it, but we were just out of position a little bit at times,” Williams said. “Those things will kill you.”
Gallatin (4-5, 2-4) punted with 3:26 left, hoping to get the ball back quickly. However, Hillsboro virtually put the game out of reach on the next play as De’Andre Alexander ran 42 yards for a touchdown.
Gallatin gained an early lead by taking advantage of a muffed punt as senior Brandon Banks scooped up the loose ball. It led to a 1-yard touchdown from junior quarterback Wyatt Hayes.
Junior tailback Jordan Mason, who was questionable to play with a leg injury, started and handled what appeared to be a normal workload. Mason ripped off a 70-yard run early in the second quarter, leading to his 1-yard plunge two plays later. That gave the Green Wave a 13-7 lead after the extra point was blocked.
Mason finished with 128 yards on 26 carries.
“He ran well,” Williams said of Mason. “I’m proud of the effort he gave. I’m proud of the offensive line. They faced a tough defensive line tonight. We’ve got some young guys up there that really played their tails off tonight. We can grow from that and get better from it.”
Gallatin took a six-point lead to halftime and had an opportunity to pull away early in the second half, but Hayes fumbled in Hillsboro territory on the opening possession of the second half.
The Green Wave defense kept Hillsboro out of the end zone as Banks recovered his second fumble three plays later.
“We had some stands on defense and made them snap it one more time,” Williams said. “We got some turnovers, and we were proud of the effort.”
However, the Green Wave offense was unable to generate any more points as Hayes threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a Hillsboro team that’s really going to do some good things and make some noise in the playoffs,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to keep pushing, keep fighting and do all the little things that we can to get back on the winning side.”
With no postseason implications riding on next week’s game at Cane Ridge, the Green Wave will try to finish the season with a .500 record.
“That’s tough,” Williams said. “But we have to remember that we’re Gallatin High School, and we’ve got an opportunity to go out on a high note this season. That’s our goal right now, to send this senior class off on a high note and finish the season like we’re capable of.”
Hillsboro can win the Region 6-5A title with a win at Beech on Friday.
Reach Chris Brooks at 615-575-7118 or on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.