When Lake Zurich senior Connor Schrader lined up in the offensive backfield, even he wasn't entirely sure just what play backup quarterback Noah Allgood had called.
"I just lined up and ran when I got the ball," Schrader said with a smile.
The play turned out to be all good for Lake Zurich.
Schrader, who missed most of last week's 3-0 home loss to Libertyville and was doubtful to play up until midweek with a sore hip, took the pitch from Allgood broke a tackle and outraced the Stevenson secondary for a 60-yard touchdown run.
His second scoring run of the night, combined with a record-setting defensive effort, helped Lake Zurich earn a hard-fought 21-14 win over visiting Stevenson in a North Suburban Conference Lake Division contest. The win was the first by the Bears over the Patriots since 2007. The victory also secured a playoff berth for Lake Zurich (6-2, 4-1) and kept alive a shot at a conference title.
Lake Zurich can win a share of the conference title with a win at Warren next week. Stevenson can earn a share of the title as well with a Week 9 win over Zion-Benton.
"This really was an excellent high school football game," said Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt. "A lot of people may look at this and think that this was a great defensive effort, but it really was a total team effort for us tonight."
After the long run by Schrader (13 carries, 85 yards), the Bears defense took it upon themselves to make sure the 7-point cushion held.
"We have the whole community behind us," said junior linebacker Colton Moskal. "Once we got the lead we were not about to give it up."
Lake Zurich took the lead for good with 1:23 left in the third quarter then didn't get another first down the rest of the night. The defense did its part from there on out sacking Stevenson quarterback Willie Bourbon 8 times in total, 5 coming on the final two series setting a new single-game school record.
"We knew coming in what was at stake tonight and Lake Zurich played a great game -- hats off to them," said Stevenson coach Bill McNamara.
Stevenson (6-2, 4-1) had its chances as the Patriots crawled deep into Lake Zurich territory several times in the second half. Right after Schrader's score, Stevenson drove down inside the Bears 5 yard line. But the drive stalled as Bourbon was hit for a 1-yard loss by Moskal, Dominic McNeil and Tanner Kiser to halt the drive.
The Patriots had one more chance with less than two minutes left, but consecutive sacks by McNeil, Kiser and Rocky Triggiano ended the Stevenson threat.
"Tonight was really a trademark of the Lake Zurich program -- kids stepping in and being ready when they are called upon," Proffitt said. "Coaches come and coaches go, but in the end this program is about the kids that play."
The Bears opened with s short Schrader touchdown run then regained the lead after Stevenson tied it on a short run by Bourbon. Allgood scored his first touchdown of the season to regain the lead before Bourbon hooked up with Cameron Green on an acrobatic 40-yard scoring play to tie it at 14 just before half.