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No. 12 seed Hampshire wasn't able to give No. 5 Kaneland a scare in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday in Maple Park — unfortunately for the Knights that came on a violent collision in the third quarter.
Knights senior Brandon Bishop laid on the ground for about 15 minutes after receiving a hard hit on a punt return. Bishop was placed on a stretcher and taken from the field in an ambulance, lifting his arm and giving a thumbs-up to the crowd as he was wheeled off.
"When someone goes off on a stretcher there is going to be cause for concern no matter who it is, what team," Kaneland quarterback Drew David said. "People are worried about him but we're praying he'll be all right. Everything got really quiet after that and it was just a weird feeling. What can you do, it's football, we just had to fight through it."
Kaneland (9-1) did just that, dominating Hampshire (6-4) from start to finish in a 35-0 victory. The Knights will play the winner of Saturday's game between Urban Prep and Joliet Catholic next week in the second round.
Bishop caught 7 passes for 92 yards before leaving. He was the second Kaneland player to get injured on a punt return, though Dylan Nauert did return.
John Pruett also had a big night catching passes from David with 5 grabs for 91 yards while Connor Fedderly and Tyler Slamans both caught touchdowns.
David finished 17-of-24 passing for 240 yards and those two scores, though he was intercepted by Mitch Lundry and Trey Schramm.
Hampshire, meanwhile, never got anything going against Kaneland's defense. The Knights forced four turnovers — offsetting three of their own — while holding the Whip-Purs to three first downs and 86 yards of offense. Hampshire was 0 for 10 on third-down conversions as it never could sustain a drive.
"They have been doing tremendous all year," David said of the defense. "That's the heart of our team right there. If they keep doing what they are doing we're a tough team to beat."
Linebacker Tyler Carlson intercepted two passes for Kaneland and credited the play of linemen and linebackers Justin Diddell, Andrew Kray, Joe Komel, Gary Koehring, Dan Hammermeister and Jake Gomes.
"Our line was incredible," Carlson said. "I can't give enough credit to them. They were all getting pressure. Coach (Keith) Snyder had a great play call, had me in the right coverage and I was in the right place at the right time."
Hampshire fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, recovered by JR Vest, and later fumbled on its first play of the second half, too. Isaac Swithers (17 carries, 67 yards) put Kaneland ahead with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
A 1-yard dive from Swithers and David's 6-yard toss to Fedderly put Kaneland ahead 21-0 at halftime. It didn't get any better for Hampshire in the second half with just 15 net yards of offense, with Nate Dyer scoring on a 4-yard run and Slamans catching a 14-yard touchdown pass to finish the scoring.
"We couldn't get our offense going," Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said. "We left our defense on the field too long. I thought our defense battled hard against a good offensive team but we couldn't get anything going. And they owned the line of scrimmage. Hats off to them, they played great defense."
Things figure to get tougher in a hurry for the Knights with Joliet Catholic and Montini possible opponents the next two rounds.
"The bracket is tough but to be the best you have to beat the best," David said.
Nick Kielbasa led Hampshire with 19 yards rushing on 14 carries and also punted 8 times for a 37-yard average.
"This squad wanted it (the playoffs)," Kielbasa said. "That's what we did. This game showed our pride, I don't care what the scoreboard said, it showed our pride."
Cavanaugh coached his final game in his 25-year career with Hampshire highlighted by winning the Class 2A state championship in 1995.
"It hasn't hit me," Cavanaugh said. "It will hit me. It still feels like I'm with them. It was a great group of seniors for us to make the playoffs with these guys. They put a lot of effort in. I'm real proud of them."