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It wasn't that Stevenson was resting easy during 90 minutes of lightning delays in Barrington.
But the Patriots certainly were resting easier.
By the time Mother Nature unleashed her rainy, volatile wrath over Saturday night's Class 8A football quarterfinal, the sixth-seeded Patriots were buoyed by a couple of first-quarter touchdowns.
Those scores wound up holding for the entire game as sixth-seeded Stevenson escaped with a 14-0 victory over Barrington to punch its first ticket to the state semifinals since 2002. That year, the Patriots got to their first and only state championship game, where they lost to Lockport, 35-14.
Stevenson, which played its second game in a row without Michigan State-bound receiver Matt Morrissey (strained hamstring), improves to 10-2 while No. 2 Barrington closes out its season at 10-2. The Patriots will host No. 1 Loyola Academy (a 35-0 quarterfinal winner over Maine South) in the semifinals next weekend.
"It was huge to come out early like that," said Stevenson quarterback Willie Bourbon, who hit receivers Cameron Green and Jake Sorenson with touchdown passes over a three-minute span midway through the first quarter. "Our coaches always preach quick starts and we came out hot. Something we need to work on now is just keeping the pedal to the metal. We need to keep going with it (scoring touchdowns)."
Even though the Stevenson offense slowed down (driving rains certainly didn't help with productivity), the Stevenson defense showed no let-up. The Patriots forced 3 Barrington turnovers and hurried Barrington quarterback Dan Kubiuk all over the field … all night long.
The Broncos got inside Stevenson's 30-yard line just once, and that was only because the Stevenson offense fumbled the ball deep inside its own territory and the Broncos got to start at the Stevenson 21-yard line. Even then, thanks to the Patriots' stingy defense, the possession yielded only 2 yards for Barrington.
"We practice having all 11 guys flying around on every play and no one ever takes a play off. When you do that, plays are going to happen for you," said Stevenson linebacker Jason Vravick, who picked off Kubiuk in the second quarter, as did Green. "Barrington is fast and big, so there was a lot to cover. We were watching for everything."
The Patriots scored on their first possession when Green (3 total catches for 62 yards) caught a pass from Bourbon over the middle from about 30 yards out and then made some nice juke moves to maneuver to the end zone.
Then, Stevenson capitalized on a Barrington mistake on the next play. The Broncos fumbled away the kickoff return and it took the Patriots just seven plays to find the end zone again. This time, it was sophomore Jack Sorenson, Morrissey's replacement, who caught a 12-yard strike in the end zone from Bourbon (5-for-8, 85 yards).
That gave Stevenson its 14-0 lead with 4:01 remaining in the first quarter.
"We told our kids that we had to start fast and I was so happy that we did because it certainly was a long night with a lot of delays and weird things happening," said Stevenson coach Bill McNamara, who will make his first trip to the semifinals in his four-year tenure. "We came out ready to play and jumped out early. After that, it was control the ball and let our defense make plays and then run that clock."
Once the third quarter resumed after a 60-minute lightning delay that covered part of halftime, Barrington got some momentum going by recovering that fumble that occurred deep in Stevenson territory.
But the Broncos' offense stalled. Then, the defense was again having its way with Stevenson, pushing Stevenson deep into its own territory, but another lightning delay (this one for 30 minutes) seemed to take the wind out of Barrington's sails.
"Conditions were really rough out here for both teams," said Kubiuk, who completed 12-of-39 passes for 108 yards. "They were able to capitalize when they had the wind and we just weren't able to make big plays when we had to.
"Credit also to the Stevenson defense. They did very well and flushed me out of the pocket quite a few times. Stevenson was the better team tonight."
Barrington has been on the losing side only one other time this season, a Week 5 loss to Schaumburg (33-21). It was quite a turnaround for the Broncos, who went 3-6 last season and missed the playoffs.
"I'm extremely proud of our guys," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez, who was hopeful for a speedy recovery for receiver Dylan Bingham, who was carried off the field on a stretcher in the second half, but gave the crowd a thumb's up on his way to the ambulance. "I don't think there were too many people that would have predicted that we would have been here (in the quarterfinals) this year.
"But this group overcame a lot of odds, continued to believe and battled. You just have to tip your hat to Stevenson. They played very good defense and that's a credit to the way they do things over there. Our whole thing tonight was to try to get it down to one score and see what would happen. We just couldn't get that score and that was about their defense playing so well tonight."
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