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updated: 9/23/2016 11:29 PM

Stevenson hangs on despite Zion-Benton's big effort

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By Wes Holtsclaw
Daily Herald Correspondent

A game of nonstop offense came down to a series of defensive stands.

Yet, in the face of a near upset, Stevenson's defense held serve when it mattered most.

Three times denying Zion-Benton in the fourth quarter, the Patriots outlasted a 6-touchdown performance from Zee-Bees quarterback DeAndre Green with a 48-42 North Suburban Conference win.

"I'm proud of the way our kids finished the game," said Stevenson coach Bill McNamara. "Our backs were against the wall all night. Their great athletes were making plays, but at the end of the game they got some big stops for us. Zion played great. Stevenson played great. We're happy to come out with a win."

Green and Stevenson's Aidan O'Connell put on an offensive clinic from the quarterback positions.

Green hit 17 of 29 passes for 356 yards with six scores and an interception, while adding 90 yards on 12 carries on the ground.

On the flip side, O'Connell managed a mix of run and pass against the Zee-Bee defense capping his night with a 19 for 35 night for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns in the air and one on the ground.

"Both guys were lights out," McNamara said. "There was certainly a lot of offense. "

From the opening drive through the fourth quarter, it was simply a shootout.

Green made an immediate statement with a seven-minute drive capped by a 13-yard strike to Dinario Hickman for a score.

Just as quickly, Stevenson (4-1, 3-0) responded with a 58-yard return from Henry Marchese, who struck paydirt three plays later with an 18-yard touchdown haul from O'Connell.

A game of cat and mouse ensued. For every Stevenson score, Green and the Zion-Benton (2-3, 1-2) offense delivered a response over first two stanzas.

"It was great to be on the field with them going back and forth," said Green, who hit Hickman with three of his four first-half touchdown strikes.

Knotted at 28 all at the half, a missed Stevenson extra point in the third quarter gave Zion-Benton an opening. Green connected on his fifth and sixth touchdown strikes of the game to help the visitors take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter.

With their backs against the wall, however, Stevenson delivered in all three phases of the game.

Facing a fourth-and-11 in the fourth quarter, O'Connell delivered his finest throw of the game with a 23-yard scoring strike to Henry Marchese to take a 6-point edge.

"Zion's a great team," said O'Connell. "They came out and played as hard as they could, and I respect them as a program. Offensively, we tried to do our thing and not worry about them as much as worry about ourselves. I think we did a good job of that tonight."

From there it was defense and the kicking game.

The Patriots held the Zee-Bees to punting situations twice, and pinned the visitors back with big special teams plays.

Needing 7 points, Zion-Benton turned to its quarterback and moved the chains into Patriot territory. But a huge fourth-down pass breakup with 1:09 remaining clinched the victory for the home team.

"It was a lot of pressure," Green said. "We tried to keep driving. We tried. They're really good."

Offensively for Stevenson, Henry Marchese led all receivers with six catchers for 122 yards and a pair of scores. Mike Marchese and Noah Lukz hauled in touchdown grabs. Anthony Sibo and Matt Korineck combined for over 100 yards and a score apiece in the ground game.

Defensively, Alex Iancau reeled in the game's lone turnover with a third quarter interception of Green.

For Zion-Benton, Payton Powell led all receivers with 119 yards on four catches with two scores. Hickman tallied 92 yards on four grabs with three scores. Tailback Terrance Brister totaled 75 yards receiving with a score, adding 56 yards on the ground.

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