The contest between visiting Stevenson and Homewood-Flossmoor came down to a battle between the youngest player on the football field in Stevenson sophomore Willie Bourbon, and the smallest in Homewood senior Raje Smith.
Friday night, the smallish Smith came up large for the Vikings.
Smith, who stands all of 5-feet-7, carried the ball 23 times for 150 yards, including a 28-yard scoring run with 1:46 left in the game to help seal a wild 35-27 win for the Vikings.
"All week long we practiced on where (Stevenson) would line up in the gaps," said Smith, who also added an 11-yard touchdown reception to his busy night. "My offensive line did a great job of moving their guys around and giving me running room."
Bourbon was pretty good, too.
In just his second varsity game, Bourbon completed 24 of 44 pass for 260 yards and a pair of scoring strikes.
"He is a young kid and he makes a lot of really nice plays for us," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said of Bourbon. "We have a lot of confidence in him and we think that as the season progresses, he is going to become an unbelievable player."
The Patriots needed Bourbon to be unbelievable after Homewood (2-0) jumped out to a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter. For as many things as Smith did on the ground to the Stevenson defense, Vikings senior quarterback Ronald Johnson was equally tough.
Johnson threw 3 touchdown passes including a 45 yarder to Patrick Sheehan with 7:22 left in the third quarter to give the Vikings a three-score cushion.
Stevenson (1-1) rallied with a pair of quick drives capped by touchdown runs of 3 and 8 yards by Danny Nowak. Nowak's second touchdown run of the night with 7:59 left in the game pulled the Patriots within 7 at 28-21.
"We had so many opportunities to make plays tonight," McNamara said. "We had a yard to go here or a few inches to go there and we just couldn't get it done. You have to make plays like that and not give up big plays against a playoff team like Homewood-Flossmoor."
Even after Smith's touchdown run, Bourbon engineered an 8-play, 76-yard drive capped by his second touchdown pass of the night to Alan Velev -- this time from 10 yards out.
"I just tried to keep everyone together," Bourbon said. "At the other team's stadium we knew it was loud and we were behind, but we had to stay together."
Bourbon and Velev hooked up early in the first quarter after the Vikings scored on their first series. A 41-yard, perfectly-placed pass knotted the contest at 7-7 before Homewood broke loose for 21 unanswered points.