Hampshire wins OT thriller over Huntley
Hampshire quarterback Tyler Fikis felt extremely confident when his team got the ball first in overtime on Friday night against Huntley.
"As soon as we won the [coin] toss, I had no doubt we were going to score," Fikis said. "And I had no doubt that our defense would be able to hold them. And if the defense didn't, we would have done it again.
"I have no doubt in this team."
Both teams struggled to move the ball in sloppy and muddy conditions, but, once it got to overtime, the Whip-Purs needed only two plays to score.
Running back Ray Hill ran in the go-ahead score from 2 yards out and added the 2-point conversion, and the Whips' defense intercepted Huntley in the end zone on fourth-and-13 to come away with a 15-7 victory in their Fox Valley Conference game.
With the victory, the Whips (5-2, 5-2) became playoff eligible for the first time since 2015. Huntley's postseason chances ended with the loss -- snapping a streak of six consecutive years in the playoffs.
Hampshire was playing without a handful of starters because of COVID-19 protocols and an upswing of cases within the school. Fans were not allowed to attend, with only family members allowed to be in the stands.
"It meant a lot to get this win," Hill said. "From the beginning of the week, we knew there was a bunch of people that were not able to play in this game. I knew I had to step up as a teammate and play my role. It was pretty muddy, slipping, sliding everywhere, but it felt great to get the victory."
Hampshire coach Jake Brosman said his team rose to the occasion in a challenging week.
"These boys have worked so hard and to be able to tell them, 'You just made yourselves playoff eligible,' the looks on their eyes when you say that is just priceless," Brosman said. "We definitely had probably the most adversity we'll face in a week this week. As far as the field, you couldn't get a footing anywhere. It was just a sloppy game all over and one you just had to keep fighting to get your points up on the board.
"And it was great to see them fighting."
Each team scored in the second quarter for the game's only points until overtime.
Tyler Fikis hit Charlie Sladek for a 5-yard TD with 6:34 to go in the second to give Hampshire a 7-0 lead, but Huntley answered when quarterback Sam Deligio found Carter Knutsen running down the middle of the field for a 50-yard TD pass with 3:40 left in the first half to tie the score.
After Hampshire scored on its first possession of the overtime, Huntley looked like it had the answer with a touchdown run of its own, but it the play was called back because of a holding penalty. A run and three incompletions later ended the game as Hampshire's Nolan Yang picked off Deligio in the end zone.
"We just have to eliminate the mistakes," Raiders coach Matt Zimolzak said. "Our defense played well, they played really well. To hold [Hampshire] to seven points is great, we just shot ourselves in the foot too many times. We've got a little different group this year and we're still trying to find our leaders here. We're searching.