It's vintage Vincent as Stevenson stops Mundelein
It wasn't a cleanly-played game by any means with a ton of penalties on both teams Friday night at Mundelein, but the Stevenson football team easily clinched their 27th straight trip to the IHSA state playoffs with a performance for the ages by senior running back Tyler Vincent.
The defending Class 8A state champion Patriots (6-3, 4-2) jumped out to a 48-14 halftime lead over the rival Mustangs as Vincent incredibly scored all six of his touchdowns in the first half.
From there, Stevenson would post a convincing 55-21 North Suburban Conference Lake Division victory over Mundelein (4-5, 1-5) as the Mustangs were officially knocked out of any hopes of qualifying for the state playoffs.
Vincent was basically unstoppable against the Mundelein defense as he ran for 267 yards on 8 carries in only one half of action. Vincent scored touchdowns the first three times he touched the football as he displayed blazing speed throughout the first half under very rainy playing conditions on the field turf.
"The offensive line did what they had to do, and two or three of them (touchdowns) I just ran straight ahead," said Vincent, who had never scored more than three touchdowns in a single game. "This is great to have a three-game winning streak after going 3-3 to start the season, and this is what we needed to have going into the playoffs."
After a fumble recovery by Stevenson's Connor Santini, Vincent bounced off a Mundelein defender and went 14 yards on Stevenson' first play from scrimmage for his first TD before the first of 7 extra points gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead just 1:04 into the game.
On the Pats' second possession, Vincent went 56 yards for the TD off right tackle as the visitors took a quick 14-0 advantage.
The Mustangs did show some resiliency in the early going as running back Isac Banuelos (92 yards on 7 carries) bolted 75 yards down the left sideline on a counter play to take the ball down to the Stevenson 3.
Then after a 5-yard penalty on Mundelein (13 penalties for 130 yards), senior Jake Gokan scored on an 8-yard TD run up the middle before Banuelos' extra point cut the lead to 14-7 with 4:33 left in the first quarter.
Tempers flared throughout the first half of this rivalry game as the Patriots (13 penalties for 180 yards) had 11 penalties for 155 yards in the first half alone which included 10 personal fouls at 15 yards apiece.
The third time Vincent touched the ball he went 66 yards for the TD before a missed extra-point pass made the score 20-7 after one quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Vincent got to the corner and went 68 yards for the TD and a 27-7 lead after Mundelein had been stopped on downs at the Stevenson 32.
An interception by Mike Maskalunas set up the Pats' next TD as Vincent bolted up the middle before making a cut-back and going 46 yards for the TD and a 34-7 lead with 3:59 left in the second quarter.
A 36-yard pass from Mundelein quarterback Colten Fisher (6-for-18, 157 yards) passing got the Mustangs going on their ensuing possession.
Then on a strange scoring play, Fisher hit teammate Antoine Hicks with a 12-yard pass. But Hicks fumbled the ball forward, and teammate Justin Neukam recovered the ball in the end zone for a TD to cut the lead to 34-14 1:35 before the half.
But a huge kickoff return by Connor Crawley gave Stevenson great field position. Two plays later, Vincent scored his sixth TD on a 20-yard run to boost the lead to 41-14 just 21 seconds later.
Then after an interception by Piotr Niedzwiedzki, Stevenson's Anthony Sibo scored on a 5-yard TD run with 26.3 seconds left in the first half.
"I'm proud of our kids, they battled tonight and we thought we had a chance to win the game, but we didn't come close," said Mundelein coach Larry Calhoun. "It was a sloppy game, but I couldn't ask for a better senior class and they embraced everything we wanted to do. Even though we didn't go where we wanted to go, now it's fun to be a football player at Mundelein. And hopefully that translates into more people coming out for football at Mundelein now."
The Patriots scored on a 7-yard pass from Aidan O'Connell to Crawley early in the third quarter as the rest of the game was played with a running clock.
Mundelein got a huge 91-yard TD pass from Fisher to Hicks in the fourth quarter to account for the final score.
"Any time you come to Mundelein you know it's going to be a physical game and I thought we controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage," said Stevenson coach Bill McNamara. "You can't have that many penalties in the playoffs, but we're playing well and we're getting healthy."
"We'll see how the (playoff) draw goes," added McNamara. "We're looking forward to the playoffs and it should be a good game in the first round with two teams in the middle of the bracket."