Hoffman Estates offense too much for Vernon Hills
Hoffman Estates had its big- play offense with its aerial attack as it stopped previously unbeaten Vernon Hills 34-12 in a Mid-Suburban/CSL matchup in Vernon Hills Friday night.
Hawks' quarterback JoJo Lovelace was 19-for-26 for 321 yards and threw 4 touchdowns, Jashawn Johnson caught three of them and Jonah Walton had the other one. Mekhi Williams (28 carries, 168 yards) rushed for the other score.
Hoffman Estates (3-1) wasn't sure what kind of a matchup it would have going into this one, but it had to do it with a few third-down plays.
"(Vernon Hills) was a tough team," Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse said. "I'm glad we had them on our schedule this year and not next year. They are really young and really talented. Coming in, we thought we had the speed advantage with our wideouts and our defensive backs. We knew we were gong to fight for it. Our game plan was for the quick and short stuff. We were having some issues because they were so long. So, we went with the vertical game. We do have a lot of run-pass options. We just read defenders and we're pulling it, and winging it."
The Hawks jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first half. Lovelace sent a 55-yard touchdown pass to Walton for a 7-0 lead with 2:58 left in the opening quarter. Then, Lovelace hit Johnson on a 51-yard pass for another score and a 13-0 lead with 4:40 left in the second quarter.
Vernon Hills tried to come back off a David Mun fumble recovery in the third quarter, which led to Thomas Monken (18 of 33, 160 yards passing) connecting with Justin Morris on a 10-yard touchdown pass that made the score 13-6 with 6:48 left.
Hoffman Estates recovered on Johnson's 17-yard pass reception for a score for a 20-6 advantage with 3:17 remaining.
The Cougars' Jake Pieper had a 55-yard kickoff return down to the Hawks 17-yard line. Then, the Cougars scored on a Ryan Mann (24 carries, 113 yards) 10-yard scamper, cutting the lead to 20-12 with 2:31 left in the third.
Johnson added his third touchdown with a 41-yard catch-and-run into the end zone early in the fourth at 11:44 that made the score 27-12.
"It's good blocking by the offensive line and getting good throws from the quarterback all day," Johnson said. "All I see is the ball coming to me and I have to go up and get it. Somehow, I was able to score."
Williams added the other rushing touchdown from a yard out for the other Hawks' score with 7:26 remaining.
Vernon Hills just couldn't stay with a talented and speedy team like Hoffman Estates.
"What we talked about was a good team like that which is a 7A playoff team," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "When you get the opportunity to make plays, we had to make plays. We didn't tonight. We're not going to make any excuses We had some third downs, we had to get off the field and we couldn't do it. We let up three big plays with two of them in third-down situations. You can't do that against a good team."