Well-grounded Stevenson rushes past Mundelein
Stevenson and senior quarterback Aidan O'Connell had already proven that they could really move the ball through the air in the first third of this football season.
Friday night at Mundelein, the Patriots showed that they can also be a very effective running team as they built a commanding 42-6 halftime lead over the Mustangs before cruising to a 48-6 North Suburban Conference victory.
Stevenson (3-1, 2-0) had a few more rushing yards (214) than passing yards (210) as its multi-faceted offense kept the Mundelein defense off balance for the entire first half.
The Mustangs (1-3, 0-2) fell behind just 1:19 into the contest as O'Connell fired a lateral to senior teammate Anthony Sibo, who went 46 yards down the left side for the touchdown. The first of six successful extra points by kicker Jack Worwa made the score 7-0.
Mundelein quarterback Anthony Norris' first pass of the game was intercepted by Stevenson's Michael Marchese as the Patriots got great field position at the Mustangs' 29-yard-line.
Four plays later, O'Connell (9-for-14, 161 yards) hit senior teammate Charlie Bourbon with a quick 8-yard slant pass for a 14-0 advantage only 2:55 into the opening quarter.
Then on Stevenson's third possession, O'Connell hit junior Alex Capstick for a 27-yard pass play before teammate Matt Korinek capped the 60-yard, five-play drive with a 2-yard TD run to boost the lead to 21-0 with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
The Pats' next possession also resulted in a touchdown as they would march 53 yards in seven plays. This time, O'Connell lofted a 12-yard timing pass into the left corner of the end zone for Henry Marchese for a commanding 28-0 lead 34 seconds into the second quarter.
"They run a really good defense, their quarterback (O'Connell) is poised, he executed, he makes good decisions, and they're obviously well coached," said Mundelein coach Larry Calhoun, whose team was held to 140 yards of offense overall. "Stevenson is a really good football team, and I know we're a better football team than we showed."
An outstanding 48-yard punt by Mundelein's Abram Nazario pinned the Patriots back to their own half-yard-line early in the second quarter as Stevenson reserve quarterback Grayson Kubow was unable to connect on three passes out of his own end zone.
Taking over at the Stevenson 36, Norris guided a seven-play scoring drive as Norris (42 yards on 10 carries) faked a handoff and went 7 yards up the middle for the touchdown. A bad snap resulted in a failed attempt for a 2-point conversion run to make the score 28-6 with 5:55 left in the first half.
But the Pats got rolling again on their next drive as they marched 88 yards on eight plays this time around.
Pass receptions of 18 yards by Capstick and 27 yards by Michael Marchese were keys as well as an 11 yard run by Korinek with a 15-yard penalty tacked onto the end of it.
Sibo's 4-yard TD run put the finishing touches on the drive for a 35-6 lead 3:18 before halftime.
Then after a three and out by Mundelein, O'Connell led one more scoring drive taking over at the Stevenson 39.
The third play of the drive saw O'Connell go over the top to senior teammate Noah Lukz, who scored on the 40-yard strike to make the score 42-6 with less than two minutes left in the first half.
"The whole week we challenged our offensive linemen to establish the run game more so that will open up our passing more and make us more of a diverse offense," said O'Connell, who only played one half. "No. 28 (Korinek) is a tough runner and No. 3 (Sibo) can catch the ball and run the ball as well as anyone."
Stevenson's reserves put the finishing touches on the win as Alec Klinsky scored on a 1-yard run with 1:13 left in the third quarter as the rest of the game was played with a running clock.
Korinek wound up with 81 yards on eight carries while Sibo had 64 yards rushing on only four attempts. Mundelein's Aaron Woolford had 26 yards on 9 carries while Norris was held to 46 yards passing overall.
"We have a lot of respect for Mundelein and we wanted to come out and play well in all phases," said Stevenson coach Bill McNamara. "I was very happy with the business-like approach our guys had and we put the pressure on them early with the interception from Michael Marchese really setting the tone for the rest of the game."
"Aidan (O'Connell) knows how to distribute the ball and that makes us more difficult to cover," added McNamara. "We always try to have balance on offense, and I think we do a good job of that."