Lake Zurich hangs on to down Stevenson
Not only did host Lake Zurich dodge some heavy rainfall, but the Bears also dodged a late comeback attempt by visiting Stevenson Friday night in North Suburban Conference football action.
The competitive contest was tied at 7-7 early in the second quarter but Lake Zurich (3-2, 3-0) would take a 21-7 lead into halftime, and increase that lead to 28-7 late in the third quarter before holding on for a 28-20 victory over the Patriots in a good battle between these longtime rivals.
Stevenson (2-3, 2-1) fell behind 7-0 late in the first quarter when Lake Zurich running back Jack Dwyer (21 carries, 126 yards) scored on a 1-yard plunge before teammate Jack Rigby booted the first of his 4 extra points.
Two drives later, the Patriots responded as senior halfback Jean-Marc Etienne (19 carries, 166 yards) ran up the middle before breaking free down the left sideline for a 64-yard run to the Bears' 5-yard-line.
Three plays later, Stevenson reserve quarterback Liam Crawley faked a handoff to Floyd Glinsey before giving the ball to Etienne for a 5-yard touchdown run. The extra point by Matt Spilotro deadlocked the score at 7-7.
Lake Zurich's offense got rolling after that point as Dwyer's second 1-yard TD run capped a 77-yard scoring drive for a 14-7 lead with 7:21 left in the second quarter.
Then Lake Zurich quarterback Jack Moses (9-for-14, 103 yards passing) had all the time in the world when he found wide-open teammate Don Volante for a 37-yard TD pass on the left sideline for a 21-7 lead 3:44 before halftime.
"The offense is getting there, we're still getting in our own way, but we hit them with some play-actions and got the ball over them," said Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz, whose team had 331 yards of total offense. "I think our running game is very versatile, and it all helps to open up the pass too."
A 15-yard pass interference penalty got the Bears' next scoring drive going as they had the ball on the Stevenson 35-yard-line.
Four plays later, Moses found teammate Justin Quast going over the middle for a 22-yard TD pass and a 28-7 lead with 1:44 left in the third quarter.
"We try to keep it balanced (on offense) because we think we can do both really well and attack the defense both ways," said Moses, who also had 101 yards rushing on 18 carries. "You've got to give credit to them (Stevenson), they were prepared for everything we wanted to do, but we kept battling."
The Patriots also kept battling as Crawley (7-for-18, 96 yards passing) hit Jordan Vincent with a 24-yard pass to open Stevenson's ensuing drive.
On the next play, Crawley connected with Jayden McFadden for a 43-yard TD pass near the left pylon to cut the lead to 28-14 just 22 seconds later.
Then came a 75-yard scoring drive by the Pats capped by a 30-yard TD run by Etienne as he wound up diving the final 2 yards into the end zone for the score. A 5-yard penalty before the extra point resulted in the extra point being partially blocked and the Bears leading 28-20 with 5:51 to play.
The Patriots got the ball back one more time on their own 22 with one time out left and exactly two minutes to play.
But Lake Zurich's defense did not allow any more yards the rest of the way with an incomplete pass on fourth down sealing the hard-fought win.
"Our kids just did a great job of executing," added Planz, whose team had 19 first downs overall. "And thank God we built up that much of a lead because they kept coming back."
Stevenson senior quarterback Justin Hiller could return to the lineup soon from a shoulder injury he suffered two weeks ago against Libertyville.
"We made too many mistakes to win tonight, but I was proud of how we fought to the end and tried to come back," said Stevenson coach Brent Becker, whose team had 269 yards overall. "We had sparks where we looked really good on offense, but then we really hurt ourselves with penalties."
"You've got to give a lot of credit to Lake Zurich. They played great and we've got a great rivalry between the two schools."