2nd-half kickoff return sparks Hampton victory over Shaler

Friday, September 6, 2019 | 11:17 PM

Hampton topped Shaler, 31-28, on Friday in a showcase of old-school football in the Northern Conference.

Running back Luke Lindgren led the Talbots (2-1, 2-0) for the second consecutive game with a ground attack that gained 244 yards.Lindgren finished with 23 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

Hampton, a program that has won five games since 2016, hopes the win is a sign of what is to come this season.

“I’ll tell you what, this feels amazing,” Lindgren said. “We had another rough year last year, and it’s a revenge tour because we want to prove to everyone that we can compete… I’ve always wanted to win.”

Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said his team has overcome more than just a few rough seasons.

“They’ve persevered through everything,” DeMatteo said. “We have dealt with distractions from field renovations, moving all over the place and injuries. You hear the next guy steps in, but it’s the truth here. We’ve been through wins, losses, close, not close, but tonight is special because of what they went through and I’m proud.”

Shaler coach Jim Ryan and DeMatteo each pointed to the end of the first half and the start to the second half as the difference in the game.

Down 14-7 late in the second quarter, Hampton ran the ball nine times for 70 yards to set the stage for a last-second 22-yard field goal. Hampton’s Max Smith returned the second-half kickoff 90 yards for the Talbots to take their first lead.

“When you let them return that kick, it’s a momentum-killer after you felt good at the half,” Ryan said. “Then you have to try to respond offensively, and defensively kids could start to question themselves. You’ve got to settle down and get back to Square One, and we just did that a little too late.”

Shaler (1-2, 1-1) relied heavily on Miller, who had 183 all-purpose yards and two rushing touchdowns. Titans quarterback Darin Mizgorski completed 19 of 37 attempts for 192 yards passing and two second-half touchdown passes to Joey Impavido.

The Titans had an opportunity to rally in the fourth quarter but Lindgren recovered a Shaler fumble, and the Talbots used their ground game to run down the clock.

“We needed to rely on our linemen and play smashmouth football,” DeMatteo said. “We needed tough yards, and our backs got us tough yards. Once they get going, they are tough to bring down.”

Ryan said the Titans need to return next week with more attention to detail.

“The thing I left the boys with before I sent them to the locker room is we need to clean up everything in practice in regards to form, the weight room, hustle, all those things,” Ryan said. “We need to have a high level of focus this week in everything we do and go from there.”

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