Hampshire unleashed three years of pent-up frustration in a 41-7 mugging of rival Burlington Central on Rocket Hill Saturday night.
After 3 straight losses to the Rockets, Hampshire took an aggressive stance from the opening snap and dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage for 48 minutes. The Whips outgained Central 408-159, won the turnover battle 4-0 and led 34-0 before the Rockets scored their lone touchdown on the final play of the third quarter.
It was the most lopsided victory for Hampshire over Central since a 44-0 beating in 1979.
"The team came together out there and all our hard work paid off," smiling senior running back Nick Kielbasa said. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior carried 22 times for 133 yards, including touchdown runs of 2 and 5 yards.
Kielbasa led a ground game that collected 307 yards rushing. Senior Chris Calvin had 9 carries for 89 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, junior Mason Fluery carried 7 times for 42 yards and senior Brandon Swanson had 7 totes for 32 yards. Swanson scored the game's final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 4:37 left in the game.
"This is sweet," smiling Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said in the aftermath. "We have a good offensive line and our backs showed something, too."
Hampshire's offensive line had its way with the opposition. Junior center Jeremy Polletta (5-11, 225), sophomore right guard Matt Kielbasa (6-2, 250), senior left guard Mike Gibas (6-2, 240) senior right tackle Austin Swanson (6-1, 180) and junior left tackle Gader Bulow (6-1, 205) opened holes consistently. Too many for Central's taste.
"I think they just flat-out were more physical than us," Central third-year coach Rich Crabel said. "It's the first time I've actually seen that happen to us. I don't think we played very well defensively and they played very well offensively. We didn't do the things we needed to do, but they played very well."
Hampshire scored on its first 3 possessions. Senior wide receiver Tim Jansen (3 rec., 101 yards) opened the scoring with a one-handed, 48-yard catch and run for a touchdown. There was contact as both players jumped for the ball, but no flag was thrown.
"I saw the ball in the air and I saw that (the defender) didn't notice it at all, so I had the advantage," Jansen said. "I went up and I think he grabbed my arm. I came down with it and was like 'Oh, jeez. I've got the ball.' So I started running."
A high shotgun snap and fumble on Central's first possession gave the Whips the ball at Central's 24-yard line. Kielbasa cashed in 5 plays later on a 2-yard plunge. He scored again on the first play of the second quarter and kicker Ben Franzen's extra point made it 20-0.
The Whips then delivered an early dagger: a 38-yard touchdown pass 46 seconds before halftime from junior quarterback Nick Mohlman to Jansen, whose up-and-out route froze the Central cornerback.
"Everything that's wrong is fixable except for maybe us being a little more physical," Crabel said. "That's going to have to come from them."