HAMILTON, Ill. — The West Hancock Titans were able to keep the Macomb Bombers within reach for the first two quarters of Friday night’s season finale at Jim Repplinger Field. Unfortunately for the Titans, a game lasts four quarters.
The Bombers exploded for a 26-point third quarter en route to a 40-12 victory over West Hancock.
“We played a good first half,” said West Hancock Head Coach Travis Cook. “Coming out that second half we were a different team. I feel like we lost that game, not that they won it. I don’t know if that makes sense with the scoreboard looking like that, but they’re not a 40-point better team than us.”
Macomb started out the evening as the aggressors by recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff and catching the Titans by surprise. Four plays later, Lucas Vannattan found the end zone on a 31-yard touchdown run and an extra point put the Bombers ahead 7-0.
West Hancock wasted little time responding. On its first play from scrimmage, the Titans handed the ball off to Tyler Dooley, who burst down the right sideline 70 yards to the house to cut the deficit to 7-6.
“Even though they recovered the onside kick to begin the game we didn’t get down on ourselves,” Cook said. “We responded right back. The kids came back. Let’s be honest, that was a battle of two teams that are having a terrible season, and they got the better of us tonight.”
The Titans tried to maintain their momentum, forcing a turnover on downs on the ensuing Macomb possession after a Bomber touchdown run was called back on a penalty. After taking over possession on its own 31-yard line, West Hancock gave the ball back to the Bombers on a questionable fumble call.
Cook called timeout to address his defense, and the Titans responded with sacks by Levi Huls and John Koehler and forcing another turnover on downs against Macomb.
“I like watching kids when adversity comes their way because you either make excuses or you step up and respond,” said Cook. “You really find out a lot about individual kids when adversity comes their way. They responded and we got a stop out of it.”
Despite the defense responding, the Titans couldn’t get their offense to go. A three and out followed the turnover and Macomb wasted little time extending the lead.
The Bombers needed just five plays to find the end zone for the second time, this time from eight yards out by fullback Reed Sprinkle.
Despite earning only one first down in the first half, the Titans were only down 14-6 heading into halftime, thanks to its stingy defense.
“We were doing exactly what we needed to do and only eight points down heading into halftime,” Cook said. “We played a really good first half and then the wheels fell off. We had square wheels in the second half. We couldn’t get things going.”
Macomb opened things up in the second half with good field position after a failed onside kick attempt by West Hancock. Sprinkle capped off the 51-yard scoring drive with a 20 yard touchdown run with 11:19 remaining in the quarter to extend the lead to 20-6.
From there on, Macomb was able to score at will.
After forcing a punt Macomb scored again on a 12-yard run from Vannattan, and another punt by the Titans lead to a 49-yard touchdown scamper from Sprinkle as Macomb led 34-6 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
A low snap on a punt attempt on the Titans next possession led to excellent field position for the Bombers, and they punched in their fourth score of the quarter on a six-yard touchdown run by Hunter Mynatt for a 40-6 lead.
West Hancock found the end zone one last time in the ball game behind a steady diet of sophomore fullback Josh Espinoza. Espinoza extended the Titan drive by converting a fourth and 11 and then scored from 10 yards out to end the scoring and the season with a 40-12 defeat on senior night.
“We’re definitely struggling with numbers and getting experienced football players out, but I appreciate all the hard work these seniors put in this year,” said Cook. “They could have packed it up and said ‘I’m done’ but they stuck it out and they fought to the end.”
Macomb ends its season at 4-5. Sprinkle led the Bombers with 10 carries for 125 yards and three touchdowns.
West Hancock finishes 0-8. Tyler Dooley finished with nine carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. He also had one reception for 22 yards and finished with a team-high five tackles. Espinoza carried the ball 23 times for 64 yards and a score.