SYRACUSE — Penalties and turnovers will doom a football team, and the Maroons suffered plenty of both.

Auburn lost its first game of the season against Nottingham, 19-18, Friday at Nottingham High School. The Maroons were shut out in the second half after leading by 11 midway through the game.

On offense alone, Auburn committed eight penalties and turned the ball over three times.

“It was ugly in terms of the penalties,” Auburn coach Dave Moskov said. “With our offense — especially since Nottingham has some athletes — we weren’t going to get those big huge runs that we had the two previous weeks. We had to control the ball and not make mistakes, and that just absolutely did not happen. The majority of our drives we put ourselves in 2nd-and-long or 3rd-and-long because of penalties.”

Quashar Bowman rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Dajour Morris recorded 76 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Liam Schulz scored the Maroons’ other touchdown.

Both Bowman and Morris recorded one reception. 

Mike Hamilton recorded 11 tackles and three sacks on defense. He also blocked a punt and forced two Nottingham safeties. Tyrese Smith forced a fumble on Nottingham’s lone turnover of the game.

The Bulldogs challenged the Maroons’ offense from the opening whistle — it took Auburn until late in the first quarter on its fourth possession to record a first down. Defensively, the Maroons were bullying Nottingham. Penned inside their own 5-yard line, a Bulldogs hand-off was met by Hamilton in the end zone for the first safety of the game.

Nottingham was forced to punt from its own end on its next possession, but the kick was blocked by Hamilton and the ball rolled through the back of the end zone for another two points for Auburn.

Leading 4-0 in the second quarter, the Maroons put together an 11-play drive capped off by a 6-yard scramble by Schulz into the end zone. Auburn turned in another scoring drive the next time it had the ball, with Bowman finishing it off with a 15-yard scamper.

The 18-point lead proved too little. Nottingham scored once with 3:29 before halftime and again midway through the third quarter to cut the Maroons’ advantage to 18-13.

On the ensuing offensive drive, Auburn committed two holding penalties to drop to an unfavorable 1st-and-38 at its own 48 leading to the Bulldogs intercepting Schulz.

The Bulldogs wasted no time turning the turnover into points as Jalin Hudson ran in a touchdown from 55 yards, putting Nottingham ahead 19-18 at the end of the third quarter. It was the first time Auburn trailed this season.

Auburn had two chances with the ball in the fourth, but the final drive started at its own 1-yard line following a perfect Nottingham punt out of bounds. After Bowman was stuffed for one yard on first down, Schulz's pass down the right sideline on second down was picked off.

“All night when we had the whole field we were moving backwards,” Moskov said. “Here we are with no room to even move … we were in a hole right there and it was a tough spot. Obviously we couldn’t get out of it.”

While Auburn was already focused on cleaning up the penalty issues, Moskov will also turn his attention to the big gains against the Maroons' defense. Nottingham completed four passes of 25 or more yards against Auburn’s secondary.

“That’s what they do,” Moskov said. “They’ve got athletes and they just chuck it up there and make a couple good catches. It loosened things up for them and put them back in the game.”

The Maroons (2-1) host Cicero-North Syracuse in their home opener next Friday. Holland Stadium will be debuting its new turf field, and while Moskov is excited for the reveal, he knows his team has some work to do.

“C-NS is loaded. We’ve got to take care of our own problems in our own house in terms of penalties,” Moskov said. “We said this week that if we play a great game but get beat by a better team we walk off the field OK. Tonight I don’t know that we can say that because we killed ourselves so much with the penalties. We’ve got a big problem to fix with those.”

Sports writer Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at justin.ritzel@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.

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