Independence’s offense came up big when it mattered most Friday night as the Eagles defeated Hillsboro 24-17.
Trailing 17-16 late in the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Chase Swayze connected with fellow senior Oscar Prado for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Vic Wharton hit a wide-open Josh Murray on the two-point conversion moments later, giving Indy a touchdown advantage with 2:03 remaining.
“Prado, the amazing athlete that he is, he broke open and got behind the corner,” Swayze said of the game-winning touchdown. “I was lucky enough to be able to get him the ball. Obviously there’s no better way to close out a senior night.”
The game was both Indy’s Homecoming and Senior Night as the Eagles do not have another home game on their regular season schedule.
Swayze, a senior, made sure to savor his final home game. Throughout his post-game interviews he clutched the game ball, saying he didn’t plan on letting go anytime soon.
“There’s no better way to close out a senior night,” he said. “This is our last time to prove ourselves on this field because we’re not promised another home game.”
Indy could earn a home playoff appearance with a second-place finish or better in District 11-AAA.
Jalen Wade sealed the win for Indy less than a minute after Swayze’s touchdown pass, recovering a Hillsboro fumble with 1:19 remaining in the game.
Struggling to find yards in the opening half, Indy’s offense found their way in the second 24 minutes. The unit earned seven first downs in the second half compared to just one prior.
“We dug deep and found a way to win,” said Eagle coach Kevin Dyson. “We made plays when it counted.”
The coach contributed his team’s 17-13 halftime deficit to turnovers as three Indy fumbles in the first half led to Hillsboro points.
Special teams shined for the Eagles in the first half as Wharton returned the Burros’ first punt 88 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 7-0 advantage before the offense took the field. He would later return a kickoff 99 yards for a score to bring Indy within 17-13 midway through the second quarter.
“You look at Hillsboro’s side of things, it’s a different ballgame if they don’t give up two kick returns for touchdowns,” Dyson said. “That’s the beauty of sports – you can always say a play here or a play there changes the complexity of a game.”