BONNE TERRE – North County entered this season hoping that a new offensive line could progress quickly, stay healthy and build confidence.
The Raiders generated two first downs during a promising initial possession against Hillsboro on Friday night, then endured a frustrating beating from their longtime conference rival.
Preston Brown threw three long touchdown passes, Payton Brown was nearly unstoppable anywhere on the field, and the Hawks rolled to a 48-0 road victory.
HIllsboro (4-0, 1-0) was physically dominant while smothering the run game and forcing quarterback Henry Allebach to repeatedly scramble from the pocket under duress.
Aiden Rowland registered two sacks as the Hawks compiled a 363-35 advantage in total yards by halftime and dropped limping rusher Zane Huff in the backfield on three of his five carries.
North County (1-3, 1-1) sustained its first shutout loss since the 2011 district playoffs, when Hillsboro prevailed by an identical 48-0 outcome.
The Hawks carried a 35-0 lead into the intermission, and ensured a turbo clock for the remainder of the night when Preston Brown fired a 59-yard dart to Keiten Pipkins.
Chris Duncan galloped 52 yards for a touchdown with nine minutes to play. Chase Sucharski finished with 36 yards on three receptions.
The outcome was swift and decisive with less than two hours elapsing. Hillsboro wasted no time reaching the endzone as 10 different plays covered at least 19 yards.
Preston Brown was 9-of-15 passing for 246 yards, and added a scoring sneak after his 27-yard option keeper was halted just short of the goal line in the second quarter.
Allebach had a couple of 11-yard carries for North County, but completed just 7-of-18 throws for 26 yards with marginal time and few receivers open downfield.
A 17-yard sweep run by Aaron Cook and 17-yard catch by Landon Carroll moved the Raiders into Hillsboro territory on the opening series.
But that drive stalled abruptly on an interception by Dalton Ross, and the Hawks instead struck first when Roland took an option pitch and raced 42 yards down the left side.
North County benefited from a pass interference call on its second possession, but was then pushed backward as Payton Brown sacked Allebach for a big loss.
Brown was rewarded as a receiver moments later with a 66-yard touchdown grab past a single safety, and soon pushed the margin to 28-0 by shrugging off three defenders on a 31-yard run.
Hillsboro had a punt return to the end zone called back for holding, but made it there anyhow on the next play as tight end Gavin Hite caught a 45-yard strike over the middle.
North County secured a defensive three-and-out in the first quarter. Xavier Scherffius and Tyler Pipkin shared a tackle for loss, and Cook forced an incomplete pass with heavy pressure.
Chase Ziegler and Hayden Barbarotto had first-down carries in the waning moments for the Raiders, who will travel to Illinois in week 5 for their first-ever meeting with Mt. Vernon.