Stevenson blanks Libertyville
Some big plays on special teams, offense, and defense paved the way to victory for Stevenson on Friday night as the Patriots visited Libertyville on senior night.
Stevenson junior Jordan Vincent showed a flair for the dramatic as well as the Patriots scored 7 points in every quarter to post a 28-0 North Suburban Conference victory over the Wildcats (0-3, 0-1).
Stevenson (3-0, 1-0) struggled offensively as its first two possessions wound up being three-and-out and a punt.
But Libertyville's third punt of the opening quarter turned into a huge play for the Patriots as Vincent fielded the punt on his own 31-yard-line before bolting through and around numerous defenders on his way to the Libertyville 2 with his 67-yard return.
On the next play, Stevenson quarterback Cole Okmin (12-for-24, 141 yards passing) faked a handoff and hit running back Jon Kull with a 2-yard touchdown pass before Jack Baruch's extra point made the score 7-0 with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
The score remained 7-0 until Stevenson punted late in the second quarter. This time, Libertyville misfielded a fair catch attempt on the punt, and Stevenson's Jahleel Perrin was on the spot to recover the ball at the Wildcats' 28-yard-line.
Five plays later, Okmin hit senior wide receiver Ryan McElhinny with a 13-yard TD pass as McElhinny slipped a tackle near the end zone to give the Pats a 14-0 lead with 29.9 seconds left in the first half.
"The turnovers are hard to overcome for any team, but I thought our defense played really well against them, and we kept No. 5 (JM Etienne) in check for most of the night," said Libertyville coach Mike Jones, whose team will be without sophomore quarterback Blake Ellingson for the rest of the season due to a broken leg he suffered last week. "I thought our running game was pretty good, but we just have to be more consistent. A couple plays in the first half and we're looking at 0-0 at halftime, but they took advantage of our miscues."
Stevenson methodically marched 85 yards down the field on 15 plays to open the second half as a 31-yard pass from Okmin to Vincent put the ball on the Libertyville 32.
Okmin's 14-yard keeper was another key to the drive before Okmin scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a 21-0 advantage midway through the period.
"We had some penalties that seemed to stop our offensive momentum so that was kind of frustrating, but our kids fought through it," said Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth, whose team had 8 penalties for 85 yards overall. "Our defense played unbelievably to get the shutout, and in our conference no matter who it is we're very proud when we get the shutout."
Etienne (102 yards on 18 carries) was contained quite well until he broke away for a 43-yard run to put the ball on the Libertyville 30-yard-line late in the fourth quarter.
And then it was the multi-faceted Vincent that took center stage once again as he bounced outside to the right and raced 30 yards for the touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 4:05 to play.
"I think it was a great opportunity for us to establish who we are in the conference and give everybody a heads up," said Vincent, who plays safety on defense. "The (defensive) coaches just keep us mentally prepared for the game, and if we stay mentally focused we should be good to go."
Libertyville was led by Niko Christensen's workman-like effort with 80 yards rushing on 24 carries while junior quarterback Thomas Monken was 9-for-23 passing for 65 yards.