Hampshire forces 4 turnovers, runs past Burlington Central
HAMPSHIRE – Burlington Central starting quarterback Mark Ganziano could be visibly seen with a blue hard cast on his left forearm during pregame.
Ganziano suffered a broken wrist in practice on Wednesday, forcing the Rockets to primarily turn to junior running back Gavin Sarvis to handle the snaps.
Hampshire (2-0) more than turned up the heat, forcing four turnovers Thursday during a 34-6 Fox Valley Conference win over the Rockets.
“That’s something that our defensive staff and our kids just really [harp on],” Hampshire coach Jake Brosman said. “We did a lot of turnover drills over the offseason over all of our contact days. We put a big emphasis on turning the ball over and making our big plays on defense. And, it’s great to see the drills we do in practice come into game time.”
On the Rockets (0-3) first play from scrimmage, Rockets junior Jonny Lawson fumbled the initial snap and Hampshire recovered. Seven plays later, Hampshire sophomore Raymond Hill scampered in for a 3-yard touchdown for the 7-0 lead.
The Rockets’ ensuing possession resulted in a turnover-on-downs and Hampshire needed just one play – a 79-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Fikis to Jack Rummel – to take the 14-0 advantage.
“I’m going to sound like a broken record, but we have a lot of guys that, you know with everything going on over the last 18 months, they dedicated themselves hard,” Brosman said. “They really focused, learned their rules; learned everything we needed to learn. And, they’re showing it on the field.”
Sarvis fumbled the next Rockets snap, which was recovered by Hampshire’s Devin Yeats. Neil Sakolari later scored a 2-yard touchdown for the 21-0 lead with 8:31 left in the second quarter.
After another Rockets turnover-on-downs, Fikis sprinted for a 29-yard rushing score to break the game open, 27-0 at the half. Fikis later found Yeats for an 11-yard score and the 34-0 advantage early in the third quarter.
Fikis finished 102 yards passing, two passing touchdowns and one rushing score. Hampshire collectively racked up 178 yards rushing.
With 4:41 left in the fourth quarter, Central’s Nathan Majewski scampered in for a 2-yard touchdown, but the extra point was blocked to keep it 34-6 Hampshire.
Ganziano expressed optimism that he might be able to return before the season concludes.
“Mark’s our leader. When we lose him two days before the game, you scramble and I think they were more affected by his loss than we thought they were,” Burlington Central coach Brian Melvin said. “...We’re a really way better football team than this. But, we have to be able to overcome adversity.”