Libertyville needed to rebound from a couple of rough losses and it helped to have some reinforcements.
With a pair of injured offensive linemen back on the field, the Wildcats pulled away late to beat Mundelein 42-15 on Friday in North Suburban Lake action.
No one was happier to get some help than senior running back Conor Simpson, who scored Libertyville's first 4 touchdowns and finished with 173 yards on 18 carries.
"We had two big injuries in the beginning of the year -- Tim Grote and Ryan Martin," Simpson said. "They were kind of the heart of our O-line, I would say. When they came back, everything started to click, it was just a great game by them."
Simpson was responsible for two one-play touchdown drives in the first half. To start Libertyville's second possession, the 5-foot-10 senior found room on the left side and sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown.
After Matt Pierson recovered a muffed Mundelein punt return, Simpson added a 39-yard run to make it 14-3 in the second quarter. Needless to say, the offensive line did its job well.
"It certainly helps," Wildcats coach Mike Jones said. "They're both seniors. When you get senior offensive linemen back and they play defensive line, it makes a big difference."
To start the third quarter, Simpson capped a nine-play drive with a 1-yard run. Then he caught a punt near midfield, gave some ground, circled to his right and took it all the way for a 49-yard score, giving the Wildcats a 28-9 lead in the final minute of the third quarter.
Libertyville's last 2 touchdowns came on passes from Anthony Monken to Nick Rossetti, for 48 and 37 yards. The previous two weeks, the Wildcats (3-3, 2-2) were on the wrong side of blowout losses to Warren and Stevenson.
"We just tried to stay positive," Simpson said. "We knew we had some injuries returning. We're taking it one game at a time and trying to get into the playoffs. It felt great to finally let everything out and unleash our ability on offense."
Mundelein (1-5, 0-3) moved the ball throughout the game, but didn't always finish drives. The Mustangs took an early 3-0 lead with a 35-yard field goal by John Marcos.
They drove inside the Libertyville 10-yard line twice in the second quarter. The first attempt ended with an interception by Sean Ferraro. Then Graves found tight end David Adams for a 5-yard touchdown, pulling the home team within 14-9 at halftime after the extra point was blocked.
Mundelein scored later on a 36-yard pass from Graves to Chance Lindsey. Graves completed 10-of-21 passes for 158 yards, most of those going to Lindsey (4 catches, 76 yards) and Dillon O'Donoghue (4 catches, 67 yards).
"I thought we were physical, as we always are," Mundelein coach George Kaider said. "I thought we established the running game. We set up play action well. We've come a long way. People need to remember where the program was a year ago. I'm really proud of our boys."