With a slight tilt of his football helmet, Lake Zurich cornerback Anthony Mangano got a look at one tall task Friday night.
Standing opposite of the 5-foot-11 sophomore was Warren's 6-5, 210-pound Micah Jones. Through four weeks, the go-up-and-get-it, Notre Dame-bound wide receiver had snatched 26 passes, including 5 touchdowns.
"I get to go up against someone who's going (major Division I), so he's going to test me and my athleticism," Mangano said this week.
"There aren't many receivers that look like him when you're watching film," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens added of Jones. "But what makes (Warren) so dangerous is that they can get you either way, through the air or on the ground."
Warren hit Lake Zurich with a 50-yard "Hail Mary" pass from Ian Schilling to Ricky McLaughlin on the final play of regulation, tying the score at 28-28. But Joey Stutzman's 6-yard touchdown run in the second overtime lifted Lake Zurich to a 41-35 win in the North Suburban Conference showdown.
Lake Zurich quarterback Evan Lewandowski threw for 309 yards and 4 touchdowns on 13-of-21 passing. All 4 TD passes were to Zion-Benton transfer Payton Powell, who caught a 10-yard bullet from Lewandowski on the first play of OT. Powell had 6 receptions for 206 yards
Schilling finished 20 of 42 for 364 yards and 4 TDs but was intercepted three times.
"I told our kids that in my four years as the head coach I've never been more proud of them," Warren's Bryan McNulty said after his team fell to 3-2 and 2-1 in the NSC. "They didn't quit."
Lake Zurich, which entered the game in Gurnee having allowed only 16 points, improved to 5-0 and 3-0 in the NSC. The Bears' stingy defense had gotten scores, including a combined three interceptions returned for touchdowns, from both Mangano and outside linebacker Joey Stutzman in each of the last two weeks.
Warren, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, provided Lake Zurich its biggest conference task of the season, and the game matched the hype.
Lake Zurich looked in great position to win in regulation after Lewandowski hit Powell from 11 yards out with 53 seconds left in the fourth to cap an 11-play, 91-yard drive. But Warren responded, needing seven plays, not counting a pass interference penalty on fourth-and-10 from its own 16, to force OT. With five seconds on the clock after an incompletion, a scrambling Schilling fired a pass into the end zone, where the 5-10 McLaughlin jumped and caught it.
Lake Zurich had struck first in the game, as Lewandowski, despite fumbling the snap from shotgun formation, hit Powell in the end zone from 12 yards out to cap an 8-play, 99-yard drive with four minutes left in the opening quarter. Lewandowski's 45-yard completion to Powell on first down from the Lake Zurich 1 got the drive rolling.
With Lake Zurich focusing on Jones, Warren went to its other weapons. Schilling threw a 34-yard TD pass to a wide-open McLaughlin, one play after a holding penalty negated a scoring pass to Ryan Short, tying the score early in the second quarter.
Warren scored again on its next series, as Schilling capped a 9-play, 76-yard drive with a 1-yard strike to Zach Pelland to make it 14-7. The drive included Jones (8 catches, 143 yards) drawing a pass interference penalty.
Warren was threatening to score again late in the first half, but Ryan Vrenios intercepted Schilling in the end zone. On the next play from scrimmage, Lewandowski fired an 80-yard TD pass to Powell down the left sideline, pulling Lake Zurich even at 14-14 with 1:08 left before halftime.
Warren's Martin Walker Jr. and Stutzman had third-quarter TD runs for their respective teams. In the first OT, Warren got a 13-yard TD pass from Schilling to Jones on fourth-and-goal to force the second OT.
Warren got the ball first in the second OT, and Lake Zurich's defense held on fourth down from the 1. Three plays later, Stutzman burst into the end zone for the thrilling win.
Lake Zurich also got interceptions from Austin LePage and Robert Hinsberger.
"It was just one of those games," McNulty said. "It's a much-respected rivalry."