Stevenson pulls away in 2nd half
With two spread offenses and two strong-armed quarterbacks, Friday's Stevenson-Lake Forest skirmish figured to feature some offensive fireworks.
It didn't happen right away. The first half featured more defensive heroics. By the end of the night, though, Stevenson quarterback Willie Bourbon piled up 329 passing yards and 4 touchdowns as the Patriots rolled past Lake Forest 34-17 in a North Suburban Lake Division battle.
Receiver Cameron Green had 5 catches for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bourbon also hit Jordan Atkins for a 63-yard bomb and junior Jack Sorenson for a 52-yard TD pass.
"He's just an athlete. I can't tell if he's a quarterback or running back, because he just goes out there and plays," Green said of Bourbon. "We could put him on defense and he'll make big plays, too."
Green and Bourbon have played together since youth football and both are headed to Northwestern next year -- Green for football and Bourbon in baseball.
"We've been together since we were, honestly, little kids," Green said. "We've built that relationship and it got to the point where on the field today, we looked at each other and just knew what route we should run and checked out of something. He's one of my best friends, pretty much my brother and hopefully we can roommate at Northwestern, too. That would be pretty cool."
Lake Forest averaged 43 points in its first three games, but Stevenson marked a step up in level of competition. The Scouts (3-1, 0-1) scored just one offensive touchdown. The other trip to the end zone came on a fumble return by Virgil Young.
One of the defensive stars for Stevenson was senior linebacker Nischay Vallabhaneni, who had an interception and several nice tackles. He understands there aren't always many players of Indian descent on the football field, but takes pride in being unique.
"My parents emigrated here. Most of my close relatives live here, but I have family in India. They're proud of me," Vallabhaneni said. "I started playing in like second grade (for the Lakeland Cardinals in Fox Lake), so it's been a long time. I just did it because my friends were doing it and had fun with the game, so it kind of went from there."
Turnovers played a role in the first half. On Lake Forest's first offensive play, junior QB Daniel Carollo threw deep, but his receiver fell down and Stevenson's Jeremy Webb had an easy interception, returning it 38 yards. Two plays later. Bourbon hit Green on an inside slant for a 28-yard touchdown.
The next time Stevenson had the ball, Bourbon found Sorenson for a completion, but the ball was knocked loose and Young returned the fumble 29 yards to tie the score. The Patriots drove 80 yards on the ensuing drive and took a 14-7 edge when Bourbon hit Green for an 8-yard touchdown.
Stevenson seemed poised to tack on another touchdown, but Lake Forest's defense stopped Jack Joseph on a fourth-and-one run at the 6-yard line. When Kyle Gattari finished the first half with a 37-yard field goal, Lake Forest was within 14-10.
On Stevenson's opening drive of the third quarter, Boubon hit Sorenson on the right sideline. He spun, lost his defender and raced uncontested for a 52-yard touchdown that made it 21-10.
The Scouts had one nice drive in the third quarter. Carollo completed four passes for 68 yards and ran for an 11-yard gain. Carollo scrambled to his left and found Quinn Julian for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 21-17 with 6:07 left in the third quarter. From that point, though, Carollo completed just 2 of 11 passes for 5 yards and an interception.
"We were trying to focus on the first half," Bourbon said. "There were little mistakes we made. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We've got to get stronger in the first half, I think. Obviously in the second half, we played a lot better."
Lake Forest got the ball once with a chance to take the lead, but couldn't get a first down. Bourbon then hit Atkins in stride for a 63-yard bomb with 3:53 left in the third quarter. Joseph's 1-yard run capped a 98-yard Stevenson drive and made it 34-17 with 8:25 remaining.