ALGONQUIN – Jacobs quarterback Max Benner was firing touchdown passes all over the field, while the Golden Eagles defense kept itself busy taking the ball away from Hampshire.
Jacobs had everything working from the start and never let the Whip-Purs into the game.
What looked like an even matchup coming in was anything but that Friday night at Jacobs Athletic Field. The Eagles rolled to a 49-13 victory in their Fox Valley Conference game behind Benner’s career-high three touchdowns and one of their best defensive efforts.
Jacobs (5-3, 5-3 FVC) became playoff eligible for the first time since 2017. Hampshire (5-3, 5-3) got its fifth victory the previous week with a 15-7 overtime victory against Huntley to qualify.
“It was one of those nights where you get hit from this side and then hit from that side and then they come up the middle,” Hampshire coach Jake Brosman said. “We made a few early mistakes and in the Fox Valley (conference) when you make a mistake, there’s going to be a good team across the field that’s going to capitalize on it.
“And Jacobs did a fantastic job of capitalizing on every little mistake and it showed up like it did.”
The Eagles removed any drama about the outcome early on. Benner hit tight end Nick True for a 32-yard touchdown on the opening drive. Then, Jacobs linebacker Zach Stone forced a fumble by Hampshire quarterback Tyler Fikis on the Whip-Purs’ third play.
Jacobs running back Ben Ludlum scored on a 21-yard run.
“That’s huge. That’s game-changing,” Jacobs coach Brian Zimmerman said. “It gets you that two-score lead. They are so dangerous, a 14-point lead could quickly change. We contained them the best we could.”
The defense came up with another fumble late in the first quarter when a low snap eluded Fikis and linebacker Joey Scrivani pounced on it. Ludlum scored on a 72-yard run two plays later.
Jacobs closed the half with Benner’s 19-yard scoring toss to tight end Grant Stec. Benner said Hampshire’s defensive front led the Eagle to look to the air.
“We have two of the best running backs (Ludlum and Nasir Canty) in the conference and they had to come out and respect the run,” Benner said. “Coach saw that 7-2 (front) and we opened up the play-action and it worked well.
“The defense worked hard this week getting turnovers and putting us in the right position. They got us the ball back real fast.”
Jacobs’ first-team defense held Hampshire to one touchdown. The Whips’ second score came in the fourth quarter, with a running clock and the second-team defense in.
“We all stayed true to our assignments,” Jacob linebacker Dylann Martinez said. “We didn’t play lazy football. We watched a lot of film this week. We were keying on their QB, Tyler, looking for him and we did our assignments.
“We played hard, physical. We had a tough week of practice and came back and showed ourselves.”
Jacobs defensive back Ashton Niehaus had two big plays in the third quarter. He scooped up a short punt when Hampshire’s Devin Yeats slipped on the wet field as he kicked and returned it to the Hampshire 11, setting up a score.
Niehaus scored a few minutes later when he returned an interception 28 yards.
“We challenged (the defense),” Zimmerman said. “We did a nice job containing Fikis and the turnovers were key. We wanted to make another statement that we were a good football team.”
Jacobs 49, Hampshire 13
Hampshire 0 7 0 6 – 13
Jacobs 14 14 21 0 – 49
J–True 32 pass from Benner (Rocha kick), 8:02.
J–Ludlum 21 run (Rocha kick), 4:20.
J–Ludlum 72 run (Rocha kick), 11:46.
H–Kenny 5 run (Rojas kick), 4:08.
J–Stec 19 pass from Benner (Rocha kick), 0:40.
J–Canty 5 run (Rocha kick), 8:30.
J–Niehaus 28 interception return (Rocha kick), 6:52.
J–Ludlum 15 pass from Benner (Rocha kick), 1:48.
H–Kenny 8 run (kick failed), 8:19.
RUSHING–Hampshire: Fikis 13-97, Kenny 5-27, Jernigan 1-1, Chojnowski 1-0, Murphy 1-minus 5, Collins 1-minus 10, Team 1-minus 10. Totals: 23-101. Jacobs: Ludlum 12-164, Canty 12-28, Scrivani 2-12, Brown 2-9, Bland 1-1, Gaona 2-1, Almeida 2-minus 1. Totals: 34-214.
PASSING–Hampshire: Fikis 13-23-1-247, Collins 0-1-0-0. Jacobs: Benner 5-7-0-82.
RECEIVING–Hampshire: Murphy 6-107, Vodraska 3-69, Yeats 2-17, Sladek 1-3, Fikis 1-minus 1. Jacobs: True 2-54, Stec 1-19, Ludlum 1-15, Brown 1-9.
TOTAL TEAM YARDS–Hampshire 348, Jacobs 311.