KINGWOOD — If Preston football coach Mark Deep could bottle the first eight-plus minutes of the 2022 season and all but the last 97 seconds of Friday’s game, the Knights just might go undefeated.
Unfortunately, a football game is 48 minutes and Preston was only able to put together roughly 20 of solid offense on its way to a 28-20 loss to visiting Hampshire.
“We did have something, didn’t we?” Deep, in his second season at PHS, said. “I think some belief came tonight. Especially in the third quarter and the fourth quarter.”
The Knight (0-1) took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards on 14 plays that took the opening seven minutes and 20 seconds off the clock. Ethan Harper, a senior, finished the drive off with a 1-yard run and Preston didn’t put the ball in the air once during that drive.
Preston had the Trojans (1-0) facing a third down and 12 yards when quarterback Landon Eversole found Caleb Vandevander wide-open behind the Knights’ defense.
“Their quarterback scrambled around a little bit, and we came up in the defensive backfield,” Deep said.
The miscue was one of many for Preston as the Knights held Hampshire to just 165 yards of total offense in the game.
But the big plays that the Trojans were able to connect on proved to be the difference.
The Trojans scored 21 points in the deciding second quarter. Zander Robinson scored on a 66-yard perfectly placed pass by Eversole for a 14-7 lead and then the Trojans took advantage of two PHS mistakes.
Preston had a botched snap on a punt that gave Hampshire a short field to work with and Brennen Brinker ran the ball in from 2-yards out just three plays later.
The Trojans scored their final points of the game just four plays later when they returned an interception 80 yards for a score and a 28-7 lead at halftime.
“If we don’t get those big plays, the long passes, the interception for a touchdown, it’s a lot closer game,” Hampshire coach Aaron Rule said. “We were just able to get the bigger plays.”
After halftime, Deep saw something out of his Preston team that he said is encouraging.
“In the past, Preston probably would have given up another 20 in the second half,” Deep said. “We showed that we can come out and fight in that second half. Defensively, we blew a couple of coverages and that is going to happen. But we showed we can fight.”
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter was all Preston until the final 97 seconds.
Harper added another 5-yard score with 9:46 left in the contest and then quarterback Dylan Taylor found Aidan Schmidl for a 10-yard scoring pass with 3:47 left.
Preston was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick, but the Knights’ defense held Hampshire to a three-and-out thanks to a 6-yard tackle for loss by Samuel Donnelly.
Unfortunately, the Knights were backed up at their own 6-yard line and managed nine yards on the first play from scrimmage but on the very next play Vandevander ended the game with an interception with 1:11 left in the contest.
Preston returns to action Friday when it hosts North Marion.
Preston wide receiver Riley Land left the game at the 1:37 mark when he was tackled to the ground and suffered a head injury. Land was taken off the field by ambulance. Deep said that Land was moving all his extremities and he thought Land had likely suffered a concussion.
By ERIC HERTER
Hampshire 28, Preston 20
HHS 7 21 0 0 28
PHS 7 0 0 13 20
PHS – Ethan Harper 1 run (Cole Turner kick)
HHS – Caleb Vandevander 53 pass from Landon Eversole (Bryson Richardson kick)
HHS – Zander Robinson 66 pass from Eversole (Richardson kick)
HHS – Brennen Brinker 2 run (Richardson kick)
HHS – 80 interception return (Richardson kick)
PHS – Harper 5 run (Turner kick)
PHS – Aidan Schmidl 10 pass from Dylan Taylor (kick fail)
Rushing – HHS: Brinker 19-62, Eversole 5-(-43). PHS: Harper 13-32, Taylor 12-61, Shelden Miller 10-42, Ethan Likes 4-8, Riley Land 1-4.
Passing – HHS: Eversole 8-15-0 159. PHS: Taylor 7-18-2 88.
Receiving – HHS: Robinson 4-87, Vandevander 2-55, Brinker 2-17. PHS: Levi Lowdermilk 1-4, Miller 1-28, Slaton Manko 1-(-3), Robert Lilly 1-8, Schmidl 2-34, Land 1-9.