It took Denmark three seasons to look like a first-year program.
After winning more than half of their first 20 games as a program, and reaching the playoffs in just their second season, the Danes are going through some growing pains.
Shiloh handed Denmark its second shutout of the season Thursday, blanking the Danes 7-0 and holding them to 71 yards of total offense.
Shiloh senior Ahmad Edwards picked off quarterback Tre Jones at the end of the first half and returned it for a 50-yard touchdown for the only score of the game. The pick-six marked the third interception of the half for Shiloh's defense.
"It'll come. No one out here is trying to mess up, and no one out here is trying to make mistakes," Denmark head coach Mike Palmieri said. "I told them as long as they can walk off the field and say they competed, I'm happy for them."
Jones finished 8 of 21 for 56 yards and three interceptions for Denmark. Sophomore Jacob Nelson spelled Jones after he threw an interception during the first drive of the game and went 3-of-5 passing for 12 yards and an interception.
"It's hard. I mean, we've got a freshman lineman starting at guard and we've got a kid out from COVID. It is what it is. We've got zero excuses, nor do we want any pity. We know what's ahead of us as a program. It's going to be a great challenge, and the reward is going to be even better."
A 51-yard wide receiver pass from Casey Gunn to Teddy Davenport to open the third quarter was the longest play of the game and set up the Danes with first-and-10 on Shiloh's 30-yard line. Denmark worked down to Shiloh's 12-yard line but turned the ball over on fourth-and-3 after Jones scrambled for a loss of four yards.
Gunn led the Danes with seven receptions for 61 yards.
Denmark's defense kept Shiloh off the board and limited the Generals to just 98 yards of total offense.
The front seven was stout against the highlighted by a pair of tackles for loss by senior linebacker Harrison Halder, including an impressive play on third-and-7 when Halder stayed home on a screen pass and limited Shiloh running back David Hendrix to a modest 1-yard gain.
"He's a senior we've got in the middle. Everybody else we've got around him is pretty young," Palmieri said. "He's just a great leader and prepares well during the week. He's our captain, so I'm proud of him."
Denmark's defensive backfield was solid, too, for the second straight game, holding Shiloh to just 7-of-19 passing — all seven completions coming in the first half.
Denmark was again without quarterback Aaron McLaughlin and offensive lineman Will Purdy, while wide receiver Azari Brown did not play. Palmieri also said Troy commit Justin Bradford is not playing this season.
Palmieri hopes McLaughlin will return soon.
"We don't want to rush him back," Palmieri said. "He's a great athlete, and he would make us a lot better, but his health is going to come first. We want to make sure when he comes back he's 100 percent. It's a big difference with him in there, but we're still going to work hard and play with the guys we got."
Denmark will host Lanier at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Danes' final non-region game of the season.