Warren junior linebacker Teddy Lowe missed three straight days of football practice due to bronchitis and strep throat.
Then, during the opening quarter of Saturday's North Suburban Conference matinee, he watched from the sideline as heavy-underdog Waukegan hit the visiting Blue Devils with a 70-yard scoring pass.
That's enough to make any Warren player sick.
"We slipped up and they made a big play," Lowe said. "It happens."
It was the only time Warren coughed up a big play all day.
Behind a stellar defense that yielded just 7 yards rushing and a ground game that generated 326 yards, including 191 by Melvin Pettis, the Blue Devils pulled away for a 42-7 win at Weiss Field.
"I thought we played really well defensively," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "(Waukegan's) one play was kind of a broken play. Our kid just didn't play the ball in the air."
Warren (3-4, 3-2) needs to win its remaining two games -- at home against Zion-Benton and Stevenson, respectively, the following two Friday nights -- in order to become playoff-eligible. If not, the Blue Devils will miss the postseason for the first time since 2011 and just the third time since 1999.
"We're just trying to win one at a time," said McNulty, whose team was coming off a win over Mundelein. "(Zion-Benton) is tough. We saw them (Friday) night (against Lake Forest). They're good."
So was Warren against Waukegan (1-6, 0-5), which suffered its sixth loss in a row since opening the season by beating North Chicago.
Lowe did not start but made up for his lost quarter of action by coming up with his fourth interception of the season, after teammate Jason Dorsey tipped a second-quarter throw, and registering a pair of tackles for loss.
"It's been a pretty rough week," Lowe said. "But I came back (Friday), went to the doctor, and I'm feeling better.
While Warren's defense was relentless with a group that also included Alex Jiang, Josh Wilson, Taylor Krause, Kale Bloomfield, Jake Lange and Brandon Dietz, the Blue Devils' offense was also productive. Pettis, Rashad Walker and Romell Drake ran behind Lucas McNamara, Weston Weinberg, Jake Vastine, Cameron Shaw and William Bertram.
"Our O-line is basically the key to our whole offense," Pettis said. "And our quarterback, as well, because he has certain reads."
Walker, a 6-foot, 204-pound senior, complemented the 5-7, 175-pound Pettis, who carried the ball 22 times. Walker rushed for 104 yards, including TD runs of 37 and 17 yards, on just 10 carries.
"He can just go through the hole and pick up yards after taking a couple of hits," said Pettis, who had a 15-yard touchdown run in a fourth quarter that saw Warren put up 16 points.
Warren scored on its opening series of the game, as Drake (5 carries, 29 yards) capped a seven-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. But Waukegan answered immediately, as the Bulldogs stunned the visitors when QB Eriberto Soto-Perez hit wide receiver Jordan Brown, who turned a third-and-10 pass into the longest scoring play of the day.
It was Waukegan's only completion of the game. Victor Petrick had a fourth-quarter interception for the Blue Devils. The final quarter also saw Dorsey return a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown after Warren's Jared Keeter tackled the punter in the end zone for a safety.
Warren regained the lead for good before the first quarter ended. QB Ian Schilling hit Micah Jones in the right corner of the end zone from 19 yards out, giving the Blue Devils a 12-7 advantage. They went into halftime up 19-7 thanks to Walker's first TD.
"I thought our kids came ready to play," McNulty said. "They were prepared and they tackled. That's the game."