HAMPSHIRE – With the chance to become postseason eligible for the first time in six years, there was no doubt in Hampshire quarterback Tyler Fikis’ mind that the Whip-Purs would persevere in overtime Friday night against Huntley.
“As soon as we won the [coin] toss, I had no doubt we were going to score,” Fikis said. “And I had no doubt that our defense would be able to hold them. And if the defense didn’t, we would have done it again.
“I have no doubt in this team.”
Hampshire and Huntley both struggled equally to sustain drives and move the ball in sloppy and muddy conditions in regulation, but, once it got into overtime, the Whip-Purs needed only two running plays to score.
Running back Ray Hill ran in the go-ahead score in the first overtime from 2 yards out and tacked on a 2-point conversion, and Hampshire’s defense intercepted Huntley in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 13 to wrestle away with a 15-7 win in their Fox Valley Conference game.
With the victory, the Whips (5-2, 5-2) became playoff eligible for the first time since 2015. Huntley’s postseason chances ended with the loss – snapping a streak of six consecutive years in the playoffs.
Hampshire was playing without a handful of starters because of COVID-19 protocols and an upswing of cases within the school. Fans were not allowed to attend, with only family members allowed to be in the stands.
“It meant a lot to get this win,” Hill said. “From the beginning of the week, we knew there was a bunch of people that were not able to play in this game. I knew I had to step up as a teammate and play my role. It was pretty muddy, slipping, sliding everywhere, but it felt great to get this victory.”
Hampshire coach Jake Brosman was proud of his team for overcoming a difficult week.
“These boys have worked so hard, and to be able to tell them, ‘You just made yourself playoff eligible,’ the looks in their eyes when you say that is just priceless,” Brosman said. “We definitely had probably the most adversity we’ll face in a week this week. As far as the field, you couldn’t get a footing anywhere. It was just a sloppy game all over and one you just had to keep fighting to get any points up on the board.
“And it was great to see them fighting.”
Both teams managed one scoring drive in the second quarter, while the conditions of the field worsened over time.
Fikis hit Charlie Sladek for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 6:34 left in the second to give the Whips a 7-0 lead. Huntley answered when quarterback Sam Deligio found Carter Knutsen streaking down the middle of the field for a 50-yard TD with 3:40 left in the first half, tying the score at 7.
Neither team had great chances to score in the second half as ball carriers struggled to stay on their feet. Hampshire finished with 194 yards of total offense and Huntley had 188.
After Hampshire scored on the first possession of the overtime, Huntley appeared to answer right away with a touchdown on its first play, but a holding penalty nullified the rushing score. A run and two incompletions later ended the game as Hampshire’s Nolan Lang picked off Will Kenner in the end zone.
Fikis led the Whips with 107 yards rushing on 18 carries and was 5-of-14 passing for 39 yards, a TD and an interception. Hill finished with 63 yards and a score.
For Huntley, Deligio went 4-of-16 passing for 78 yards, a TD and two interceptions. Ryder Hunkins had 95 yards rushing on 25 carries, and Knutsen had four catches for 78 yards and a TD.
The Raiders (2-5, 2-5) end their season against Dundee-Crown and Crystal Lake South.
“We just have to eliminate the mistakes,” Raiders coach Matt Zimolzak said. “Our defense played well, they played really well. To hold [Hampshire] to seven points is great, we just shot ourselves in the foot too many times. We’ve got a little different group this year and we’re still trying to find our leaders here. We’re searching.”
Hampshire 15, Huntley 7, OT
Huntley 0 7 0 0 0 – 7
Hampshire 0 7 0 0 8 – 15
Hamp–Sladek 5 pass from Fikis (Rojas kick), 6:34
Hunt–Knutsen 50 pass from Deligio (Wojtas kick), 3:40
Hamp–Hill 2 run (Hill run)
RUSHING–Huntley: Hunkins 25-95, Knutsen 3-14, Deligio 2-1, Team 3-minus 17, Total: 33-93. Hampshire: Fikis 18-107, Hill 12-63, Yeats 2-12, Sladek 1-3, Chojnowski 2-4, Team 9-minus 34, Total: 44-155.
PASSING–Huntley: Deligio 4-16-2-78, Kenner 2-5-1-17. Hampshire: Fikis 5-14-1-39.
RECEIVING–Huntley: Knutsen 4-78, Brown 1-10, Zastrow 1-7. Hampshire: Murphy 2-20, Yeats 1-10, Sladek 1-5, Hill 1-4.
TOTAL YARDS: Huntley 188, Hampshire 194