McLaughlin, Warren defense dominate again
A lost opportunity for Lake Zurich to score a rare touchdown on Warren's defense led to a predictable final result.
That's what has happened to every Warren opponent this season, in large part because it can't reach the end zone.
Playing a Lake Zurich team that had won four games in a row heading into Friday night's North Suburban Conference showdown for first place, Warren used another stellar defensive effort and a career-best 210 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns from Derrick McLaughlin to capture a 24-3 win.
The win kept Warren (7-0, 5-0) perfect, while handing Lake Zurich (4-3, 4-1) its first loss since an overtime decision to Marist in Week 2.
"Our big thing this week was, 'Work the cut,' like a boxer," coach Bryan McNulty said after his Blue Devils scored 24 unanswered points to stretch their NSC winning streak to 13 games. "We knew that as long as we just stay in the fight, we're going to be fine. We couldn't panic. We couldn't let them in the end zone. We couldn't give up big plays. We just kept working the cut. That really worked for us."
Lake Zurich punched first. On the opening series of the game, the Bears drove from their own 10-yard line to the Warren 7, but the drive stalled there. Bears kicker Jack Rigby drilled a 24-yard field goal, and for the first time since Week 2 against Glenbard North, Warren's first-team defense surrendered points.
"We weren't really rattled," Warren defensive tackle Willis Singleton said. "We play hard every day in practice, and when we get close to the end zone, our confidence stays the same. We're levelheaded and we believe in all 11."
Lake Zurich quarterback Jack Moses engineered the drive, twice hitting wide receiver James Piggott for big plays (27 and 25 yards). Piggott finished with 6 receptions for 114 yards.
"We came out with a really good game plan," Moses said. "The coaches prepared us really well. But we got to do a better job executing in order to end up with a touchdown and not a field goal."
Warren answered with a 39-yard field goal from Illinois State-bound Adam Saul, and the score remained 3-3 until Blue Devils quarterback Trinate Jacobs hit Christian Phillips for a 20-yard TD pass with 22 seconds left in the first half. Phillips, who started the game at QB, made a nifty spin move around the 5 before racing into the end zone.
On Lake Zurich's previous drive, junior running back Jack Dwyer went down after getting his legs tangled up on a pass play. Dwyer (5 carries, 13 yards) watched the second half on the sidelines on crutches.
"It just creates a next-man-up mentality," Moses said of losing the Bears' top running back. "We're confident in whoever our backup running back is, which is Tommy Vages. Our game plan doesn't change. But obviously Jack's a really big-time player for our team so it hurts having him out."
McLaughlin then took over in the second half, scoring on runs of 51 and 4 yards. He ran behind the veteran line of Matt Rich, Ethan McDermott, Jack Hovey, Jaiden Lowery and Gus Krinich.
"I was expecting to get the ball a lot because Coach (McNulty) said we were going to pound it and keep hitting the cut," said McLaughlin, who rushed 27 times. "The offensive line did a great job. The holes were always there. They kept pushing (Lake Zurich) back."
"Once we got up a couple of scores, we felt we could run it on them a little bit," McNulty said. "The offensive line was outstanding. People forget Derrick is an Indiana State commit. When you got a Division I kid like that, you're going to ride him if you can."
Moses had Warren's defenders chasing him most of the night. But the Blue Devils limited him to 53 rushing yards on 16 carries and 129 passing yards (8-of-21 passing). Josh Turner had an interception for Warren, and Seamus Mellican registered back-to-back sacks. Moses thought he had scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the fourth quarter.
"He's real slippery," Singleton said of Moses. "I should have had like 5 sacks on him, but he was spinning left and right."