Penalties plague Hampshire in loss to Crystal Lake Central
The little mistakes are still adding up to big problems for a Hampshire program trying to snap a 22-game losing streak.
After falling behind Crystal Lake Central 20-0 at halftime Saturday, the Whip-Purs took the opening drive of the second half and marched 69 yards in nearly six minutes, capping it with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Milison to Daniel Chojnowski.
Hampshire then held the Tigers to a 3-and-out, and Shandon Suma brought the home crowd to their feet by taking the ensuing punt 56 yards back to the end zone for a touchdown that would have brought the Whip-Purs within a touchdown of the lead.
But those mistakes always seem to come at the worst possible times, and it did again on this occasion with a block in the back that wiped out Suma's return.
The Tigers gradually took control of the game again, winning 33-7 to keep the Whip-Purs (0-5, 0-5 in the Fox Valley Conference) winless on the season.
"Old story of clawing at it and clawing at it and not quite getting there," Hampshire coach Jake Brosman said. "The thing we talked about this week is we are climbing that hill, we just need to get to that other side. We're improving week by week but we have to stop making little mistakes here and there."
The flag on the punt return was far from the only mistake for the Whip-Purs. It seemed almost every time the offense struck for a big play the gain would be negated by a penalty.
Hampshire finished with 12 penalties for 110 yards; the two teams combined for 19 penalties for 190 yards.
"It was a big, big call," Brosman said of the third quarter punt return. "We had a bunch of calls not go our way. We can't use that as anything. We have to execute better on the field."
The Tigers (3-2, 3-2) scored on the first possession. Quarterback Aidan Ellinger ran for 27 yards on a 3rd-and-10 draw to keep the drive alive before finding Jake White on a 30-yard touchdown pass on another 3rd-and-long for a 6-0 lead.
While Hampshire managed just four first downs in the first half, the Tigers found the end zone two more times in the second quarter to build their 20-point halftime lead. Ellinger again hit White, this time a 25-yarder, before connecting with Connor Bartesch on a 6-yard score.
In the second half, Ellinger added a 9-yard rushing score and threw his fourth touchdown pass to finish 9 of 16 for 184 yards while adding 134 more yards rushing despite some slippery conditions.
"We started off pretty good and after halftime I don't know if it's the conditions or what not but we were a little flat in the second half," Tigers coach Jon McLaughlin said. "Overall I thought we were pretty solid in all three phases of the game."
Milison led Hampshire going 12 for 24 passing -- finding seven different receivers -- for 123 yards. The Tigers outgained the Whip-Purs, 415-206.
Hampshire plays at Burlington Central next week looking for its first win since beating Dundee-Crown 28-14 in Week 1 of the 2017 season.
"I felt we didn't come out as focused and energetic as we should have," Brosman said. "I think we'll see when we watch our films there's quite a few things we need to fix out there. We're getting there but we still have improvement to make."