The Johnsburg football team may have had to settle for a moral victory Sept. 28th, but it was more than worth it. That’s because the Skyhawks played their best all-around game of the season so far and just missed being rewarded for their efforts by landing their first win of the season in the process.

By the time that it was all said and done, it was the Skyhawks that came up a little short in falling to the Whip-Purs by a 28-21 margin in a competitive Fox Valley Conference game that just as easily could have gone either way at Hampshire. The loss dropped the Skyhawks to 0-6 overall and to 0-4 in league play, while the Whip-Purs improved to 3-3 and 2-1 on the year.

“I thought that we played better and much more consistently both offensively and defensively tonight,” Skyhawk head coach Mike Maloney said. “Unfortunately, some critical mistakes on special teams were the difference and cost us the game.”

Despite a lot of scoring in the contest, it proved to be kind of a defensive battle as both teams were limited to less than 300 yards of total offense.  In fact, for Hampshire their special teams proved to be the pivotal difference in the game as they accounted for two of the Whip-Purs scores.

The first of which got the Whip-Purs on the board first by allowing them to jump out to a quick 7-0 advantage. Tim Jansen used some key blocks upfront to break free for an 85-yard kick-off return down the sidelines for a touchdown with 11:48 left in the first half.

Hampshire kept the momentum going in their favor later in the quarter by scoring another touchdown, but this time the point-after attempt was blocked. They did so on a five-yard touchdown scamper across the goal line to make it 13-0 with 6:26 left in the opening quarter.

Just when it looked as if the Whip-Purs might use their homefield to their advantage, the Skyhawks gathered their composure and got back into it with a touchdown of their own to keep Hampshire honest and stay in the game.  Johnsburg sliced the deficit to 14-8 with less than four minutes left in the first quarter.

Brad Iverson first brought in a 16-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Nick Brengman, before running in the two-point conversion.

Unfortunately though, the momentum wouldn’t last long in the Skyhawks’ favor as the Whip-Purs got it right back on the ensuing kickoff. Just 14 seconds later, Hampshire got the points right back by scoring again on their own to go back up 21-8.

It was their special teams again that made the difference, as Chris Calvin returned the kickoff 90-yards down the sidelines for the score.

After making good on the two-point conversion, the Whip-Purs took the 21-8 advantage into the locker room with them at the half after a scoreless second quarter by both teams.

Just like they have all season long, the Skyhawks refused to give up and give in without a fight. Johnsburg may have been down, but they were definitely not out of it as they regrouped and put together a respectable comeback in the second half.

The Skyhawks scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to actually pull even with the Whip-Purs at 21-21 to make things interesting. They did so on a one-yard scoring plunge by Christian Nugent at the 6:51 mark of the third followed up by a 21-yard touchdown run from Jake Hauck with under two minutes left in the third.

“I’m proud of the way that our offense has been able to sustain and finish drives the last couple of weeks,” Maloney said. “We are developing an identity of a very relentless football team.”

Unfortunately though, with the game on the line, the Whip-Purs came back to deny the Skyhawks the chance at their first win. At the 11th-minute mark of the final quarter, Hampshire scored the decisive touchdown on a 14-yard run and their defense held on to make it count and seal the win.

The Skyhawks, who finished the night with 150+ yards on the ground, were led by Nugent with 105 yards rushing on 18 carries. Brengman had another decent night at the helm, where he completed 10 of his 16 pass attempts for 115 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.



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