HENDERSONVILLE — With 98 yards to go and trailing by three points, Hillsboro’s road looked vastly different from where it ended up.
The Burros drove the length of the field in 14 plays, with Daylon Murphy’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Hill with 3:01 left proving to be the difference in a 21-17 victory at Beech.
“They never gave up, and we came out and executed,” Murphy said. “We were prepared for everything and we came out and executed.”
Hillsboro clinched the Region 6-5A title with the victory. Beech will finish third and play on the road in next week’s playoff opener.
Hillsboro (7-3, 6-1 6-5A) began the drive — which ate up 7:27 of clock — after Beech failed to convert on fourth-and-goal from the Burros’ 2. Beech quarterback Nelson Smith found Auston Vanzant open in the end zone, but Vanzant couldn’t haul the pass in. It would have put the Buccaneers (7-3, 5-2) up by two scores.
“I feel like if we could have scored right there, we win the ball game,” Beech coach Anthony Crabtree said. “You never know, because there was still a lot of time left on the clock. (Hillsboro) drove it 98 yards and scored to win. They did what they had to do.”
Hillsboro took a quick lead as Jeremiah Edwards took the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown. Beech answered with the first of two Rodrick Napper touchdown runs from a yard out, taking a 17-14 lead to halftime.
Hillsboro could have fallen to fourth had the Burros lost. Now, they’re at home — at least for one week.
“We could get two home games,” Hillsboro coach Craig Clayton said. “I’m afraid we may have to play (Beech) again in two weeks if both of us win next week. It would be another great game, I’d imagine.”