FOOTBALL: Dempsay runs wild in Wildcats’ rout of Tigers
Special to the Daily Journal
WILMINGTON — Conner Dempsay and Wilmington ran wild for a combined 527 yards on the ground en route to a dominating 63-28 win against Herscher on Friday.
The Wildcats offensive was clicking on all cylinders, scoring on all five of their first half possessions. Each team is now 3-3 and 1-2 in the Interstate Eight Small Division.
Matt Dorsey, one of the area’s leading rushers, took the third play from scrimmage 38 yards to give Herscher a quick 7-0 lead, but the Wildcats answered right back as Keaton Hopwood capped off a six-play drive with a three-yard touchdown to Dempsay.
Instead of kicking the ball deep to Dorsey, Wilmington successfully attempted and recovered a pooch kick, stealing a possession from the Tiger offense. Dempsay took off the ensuing play for a 51-yard touchdown run.
But Herscher marched right back down the field, scoring in seven plays on a Carter Hendrix 18-yard run to tie it up at 14.
Keaton Hopwood found the end zone 10 plays into Wilmington’s next drive, giving his team a 21-14 lead a minute into the second quarter. Dempsay intercepted Hendrix on the following drive, stealing yet another possession away from the Tigers offensive.
Sam Chapman ripped off a 49-yard run, setting up another Dempsay touchdown to make it 28-14.
Herscher’s next drive ended with Dempsay getting his hand on a 35-yard field goal attempt.
Hopwood finished off the Wildcats’ final possession of the first half with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Harbor, giving Wilmington the 35-14 halftime lead.
“I’m really happy with the way our defense settled down after Herscher’s big plays early,” Wilmington coach Jeff Reents said.
“We were fortunate enough to get them in second and third-and-long and be able to play our coverages and keep the ball in front of us.”
Herscher managed to get a stop defensively after Dorsey tackled Wilmington’s punter before he could the punt off, resulting in Herscher starting first-and-goal from the three-yard line. Hendrix ran the next play into the end zone to cut the lead to 35-21.
But Dempsay yet again closed the door to any Herscher comeback, taking Wilmington’s first play from scrimmage 74 yards for a touchdown and intercepting Hendrix on Herscher’s next drive.
Trey Shaw punched another touchdown in from 21 yards out late in the third before Wilmington pulled its starters.
Dempsay finished with 278 yards rushing and five total touchdowns and two interceptions on defense.
“We’ve had some good ones here and when he’s done here, he’ll go down as one of the best,” Reents said of Dempsay.
“He’s a quiet kid who leads by example, and what an example he set tonight. The numbers really speak for themselves. That’s as good as it gets.”
Shaw finished with 138 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown. Sam Chapman added 53 yards on three carries.
Hopwood finished a perfect 3-for-3 passing for 26 yards and two touchdowns and also added a rushing touchdown. Kyle Lewis had 12 yards and a touchdown.
For Herscher, Hendrix finished 13-for-25 passing for 225 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while adding two more touchdowns on the ground.
Dorsey finished with 66 yards rushing and a touchdown. Camden Burns had 34 yards rushing and 57 yards receiving. Maxx Becker finished with 120 yards on four catches and a touchdown.
Wilmington travels to take on Reed-Custer while Herscher returns home to Seebach Stadium to face Peotone.