Lovelace TD passes lift Hoffman Estates over Maine West
In the last year, quarterback JoJo Lovelace has learned the Hoffman Estates playbook backward and forwards.
"I didn't know the plays really good last year," said Lovelace, the starter now as a senior, and the backup a year ago. "This year, I really tried to learn the plays and get them down pat.
"I just studied the playbook and read it and embedded it in my brain. I know all the plays now."
There are a couple of plays that will now be starred as favorites in Lovelace's playbook.
Lovelace threw 2 touchdown passes on Friday night and that's all the scoring that host Hoffman Estates needed to take down undefeated Maine West, 14-7.
The touchdown passes went for 22 yards to Max Lock and 9 yards to Jonah Walton.
"I love those plays when coach (Tim Heyse) calls them," Lovelace said with a smile.
Lovelace helped Hoffman Estates (2-1) bounce back from last week's 35-27 loss to Prospect, the Hawks' first nonconference loss in four years. He completed 12-of-25 passes for 219 yards.
Maine West, coming off its best season in school history, drops to 2-1.
"He's put in a lot of time, a lot of time," Heyse said of Lovelace. "All offseason, he was in two days a week at 6 a.m., and he and I were chalk-talking and watching video and learning the offense and how defenses play. He's put in the time and knows the playbook just as well as I know it now."
Heyse also called plenty of rushing plays to give Lovelace a break. The balance was key in the Hawks being able to continue to move the ball.
Junior running back Mekhi Williams rolled up 160 yards on 23 carries while Lock, a senior running back, had 75 yards on 12 carries and was trusted with the key touches on the final drive as Hoffman Estates methodically ran out the clock.
"It means a lot to have them," Lovelace said of Williams and Lock. "Those guys come through and take a lot of pressure off me.
"This win means a lot. It's a big one for us. We were really down in the dumps all week (after losing to Prospect in Week 2). Our whole mindset all week was Maine West, Maine West, Maine West."
Maine West was focused, too. Especially on defense.
Besides the two touchdowns by Hoffman Estates, there wasn't much give shown by the Maine West defense. The Warriors thwarted three fourth-down attempts by Hoffman Estates in the red zone and also picked off two Lovelace passes.
"I think our defense really stepped up when it needed to, kind of a bend-but-don't-break defense and we made some really huge plays on defense, too," Maine West coach Jason Kradman said. "But when our defense gave the ball back to us, we just couldn't convert and that's on me. I didn't do a good job calling the game. I never got back to our running back enough. And we couldn't get out of our own way early on.
"Our defensive staff and our defensive players kept us in it."
Maine West jumped on the scoreboard first when quarterback Danny Kentgen (12-for-27, 230 yards) capped off a 97-yard drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Dolphin (8 receptions, 129 yards) with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
Hoffman Estates answered with Lovelace's first touchdown pass just before the end of the quarter and that 7-7 tie was the halftime score.
The Hawks scored their go-ahead touchdown on the pass from Lovelace to Walton (6 receptions, 108 yards) with 9:18 left in the third quarter.