Hamilton football team makes history
Team tops Marquette for first time ever
Overcome with joy, multiple Sussex Hamilton players shouted the same thing after the final seconds ticked off the clock at Grove Field.
“We made history.”
For the first time in program history, Hamilton can walk away victors over Marquette University High School.
It didn’t come easy, but that’s what makes the historic victory that much sweeter.
An MUHS desperation pass into the end zone fell incomplete as time ran out, sealing the Chargers 19-17 victory Friday night.
“To come out with a ‘W’ on Grove Field is something pretty special,” Hamilton head coach John Damato said. “There has been a monkey on the back of the program for some time now. The kids knew that going in and they know it every year to be honest.”
The Chargers are now 3-0 for the first time since 2009. That was also the last time they won their Greater Metro Conference opener.
“We felt we matched up well with them this year,” Damato said. “We are a little undersized, but we are fast and we are good kids that work hard. It’s a testament to my coaching staff and our players, I couldn’t say enough about them.”
The Chargers set the tone in the first half, using time consuming drives to keep the Hilltoppers offense off the field.
On its opening drive, Hamilton drove 79 yards in nearly six minutes, scoring on a three-yard run by senior Nick Patterson.
After shutting down the MUHS offense on the Hilltoppers' first two series, Hamilton took nearly seven minutes off the clock and went up 13-0 on a one-yard run by sophomore Drew Patterson.
Finally mustering some offense, MUHS drove down far enough to get a 34-yard field goal from senior Steve Yoss as the first half expired.
In all, Hamilton controlled the ball for 16:43 of the half’s 24 minutes. The Chargers ran 34 plays in the first half; MUHS ran just 15.
“That was the idea,” Damato said. “If we could keep their offense off the field that was our best defense. Not to say our defense didn’t step up tonight.”
The Hilltoppers needed just three plays on the first drive of the second half to find the end zone. Sparked by a big completion from senior quarterback Joe Greif to senior receiver Matt Misiewicz, Greif eventually ran in from seven yards out to cut Hamilton’s lead to 13-10.
Hamilton delivered a big-play answer. Nick Patterson burst outside and went 53 yards for the touchdown, putting Hamilton up 19-10 with 2:13 to play in the third quarter.
Hamilton’s defense didn’t have to play much in the first half; it came up huge in the second half.
With the Hilltoppers driving early in the fourth quarter, Greif’s pass over the middle was intercepted by junior Dan Demler.
Midway through the fourth quarter, MUHS had a first-and-goal from the one yard line, but a penalty pushed the ball back five yards.
On third down, Greif tried to throw a fade to Misiewicz in the end zone, but senior J.J. Flor picked it off, keeping points off the board.
“Our coaches gave us a big heads up,” Flor said of the play. “They said it was going to be a boot. My job was to stay with [Misiewicz], and I saw him go to the pylon and I jumped it and came down with it.”
With 4:13 left, all Hamilton had to do is not turn the ball over. On the second play, the Chargers fumbled on their own 30.
This time MUHS took advantage, scoring on a 10-yard pass from Greif to Misiewicz with 2:04 on the clock.
However, the ensuing onside kick didn’t travel the necessary 10 yard, giving Hamilton the ball.
Though they couldn’t move the ball, the Chargers left MUHS just 30 second on the clock after the punt.
Greif hit Misiewicz a couple of times to get to the Hamilton 36-yard line and had two seconds for one last play.This time, his attempt fell to the ground, starting the Hamilton celebration.
“Our defense is awesome,” Nick Patterson said. “You have to love them. We turned the ball over a couple of times on offense and our defense just responds. They are resilient. They handle adversity and get after it.”
Nick Patterson rushed for 123 yards on 15 carries, scoring twice.
In a losing cause, Misiewicz caught five passes for 158 yards and a score.
Now Damato is faced with the dilemma of having his team enjoy a historic win, while staying hungry.
“I’m happy for the school, happy for the community, [but] I hope this isn’t the pinnacle of our season,” Damato said. “I think we have a lot more to play for. We are going to enjoy it but I hope we have bigger and better things to come.”
“24-hour-rule,” Nick Patterson said. “We’ll worry about this one for the next day and then we are on to Brookfield Central on the road.”
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