Libertyville holds off Stevenson
It was an epic ending to an exciting football game when Libertyville visited Stevenson for their North Suburban Conference finale on senior night.
Trailing 21-14, the Wildcats scored with 1:57 to play and got the 2-point conversion for a 22-21 lead only to see the Patriots march right back down the field to the Libertyville 1-yard-line with 39 seconds left in the game.
Running back Jordan Skolmar was stopped cold on first down. Then came the play of the game as Stevenson quarterback Matt Projansky rolled right and had his pass intercepted by junior Andrew Neumann to set off a wild victory celebration for the Wildcats to secure the 22-21 NSC win as they now prepare for the IHSA playoffs.
Stevenson came ready to play with a trick up its sleeve on the first play from scrimmage as the Patriots pulled off a 66-yard touchdown play on a halfback option as Skolmar found Mario Petrella for a 66-yard TD pass and a 7-0 lead just 25 seconds into the contest.
The Wildcats' defense had no answer for the Patriots' offense early on as Petrella caught a 7-yard TD pass from quarterback Seamus O'Connell (4-for-5, 55 yards) on a quick screen pass for a 14-0 lead with 6.8 seconds left in the first quarter.
Stevenson (3-6, 3-4) kept the heat on Libertyville (6-3, 4-3) as O'Connell hit Skolmar with a 36-yard TD pass as Skolmar (70 yards on 18 rushes) showed great explosiveness on the catch and run before the extra point by Deividas Paulauskas made the score 21-0 early in the second quarter.
The Wildcats responded strongly after that as a 1-yard TD run on a keeper by quarterback Connor Dickson (70 yards on 13 carries) cut the lead to 21-7 just 3:46 later.
Then Dickson hit Andrew Scott with a 58-yard TD pass as Scott eluded numerous Stevenson defenders on his way to the end zone. Luke Kompare's extra point cut the gap to 21-14 before a 30-yard field goal attempt by Paulauskas was wide left as the first-half clock expired.
Neither team could score in the second half until the Wildcats made their amazing 16-play, 87-yard winning drive with Dickson (8-for-17, 158 yards) scoring on a 1-yard keeper to cut the lead to 21-20. Then Dickson lofted a pass to Tommy Latka (96 yards on 20 rushes) for the 2-point conversion. Moments earlier Latka caught a 19-yard pass on fourth and three from the 21.
"That was crazy, I don't even know what to think, and this was for (injured teammate) Sam (Pinsel)," said Latka. "We (Latka and Dickson) have great chemistry, we've played together since the third grade, and hopefully we can make a run."
Libertyville coach Mike Jones had no doubt that he was going to go for the 2-point conversion after the final touchdown.
"We had kind of predetermined if we scored we were going to go for 2 and put the pressure on them because we hadn't put any pressure on them all night," Jones said. "We only had one place to go and that was up, but you know what like I told the kids at the end we showed some grit down 21-0 we came back and showed some grit."
Projansky was 12-for-20 for 163 yards passing while teammate Aidan Larsen rushed for 40 yards on 6 attempts. Libertyville's Kristian Gavric caught three passes for 58 yards.