Lake Zurich fields winning effort vs. Z-B
A defensive struggle was on tap at Lake Zurich on Friday night.
Visiting Zion-Benton, at least, had an excuse -- poor field position.
Lake Zurich couldn't complain about its field position. But no points went up in the opening quarter of this North Suburban Conference clash.
Defense was still the topic of discussion after the game.
Lake Zurich (4-0) picked off 4 passes and 2 went into the books as pick-6s.
The Bears added one long kickoff return in a sterling second quarter.
Zion-Benton connected on a very long pass for its lone TD.
Lake Zurich's defense came home with a convincing 36-6 decision over a dangerous Zion club. Next week, the Bears meet a good Warren team that defeated Lake Forest on Friday.
For the second week in a row, Lake Zurich sophomore defensive back Anthony Mangano ended up in the end zone following an interception.
"I was working hard after last week,'' Mangano said. "I was hoping I would get another chance this week."
Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens knows he has some up-and-coming talent in Mangano.
"He's a fast kid,'' Mertens said.
Lake Zurich star back Joey Stutzman (12-98) didn't score on offense but he too claimed a pick-6.
"We are playing that Lake Zurich defense,'' Stutzman said. "Everybody is doing their jobs. I also give coach (Nick) Summers all the credit. He's done a phenomenal job putting this defense together."
Mangano gave the Bears their first lead, but the Lake Zurich offense claimed the next score as quarterback Evan Lewandowski (9 carries, 29 yards) strolled in from 7 yards and the Bears were up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
"We told the players that Zion would come right in and go toe to toe with us,'' Mertens said. "This game was interesting. You don't see a game like this very often.''
Zion-Benton got on the board in a hurry on its next possession. Quarterback Jerome Crawford, (11-31, 163, 4 interceptions) hit the big pass play of the night when he found Tyler Geiman for an 83-yard TD strike. A missed extra point pulled the Zee-Bees with 8 points at 14-6.
And here came the ex-Zee-Bees receiver, Payton Powell. He also struck quickly by taking the kickoff to the house (82 yards).
"That was a huge play,'' Mertens said.
A busted extra point try turned into an extra point when Lewandowski's off-balance pass to kicker Donnie Dawson paid off with a 2-point result, and it was 22-6 Lake Zurich at the halftime break.
Stutzman's 10-yard run following another interception put the Bears up 29-6 early in the third quarter.
Stutzman again remained cautious in this, his senior year.
"We are really 0-0 heading to the Warren game,'' he said.
The final scoring play of the night came from the offense as Lewandowski (9-16-49-1) found Matthijs Enters on a 12-yard scoring play.
Also notching interceptions were CJ Holder and Robert Hinsberger.