Warren blows past Stevenson for 8th win
With a lot at stake for both teams, it was visiting Warren that had the decided advantage Friday night in North Suburban Conference football action at Stevenson.
The No. 3-ranked Blue Devils (8-0, 6-0) only led 14-0 at halftime, but they exploded for 23 unanswered points in the second half en route to a lopsided 37-0 NSC victory over the Patriots.
With the win, Warren can now win the NSC title outright next week with a victory over visiting Mundelein. Stevenson (4-4, 4-2) must win next week at Lake Forest to clinch its 31st straight IHSA playoff berth.
The Blue Devils' defense turned in a stellar performance once again with the shutout as they have only allowed 21 points all season.
The Patriots and elite running back Jean-Marc Etienne (12 yards on 10 carries) had little to no running room all game long as Stevenson wound up with only 5 yards rushing and 19 yards passing overall in the contest.
"They're a great team, their defense has been shutting out a lot of people, and that is one of the best defenses I've seen in high school football," said Stevenson coach Brent Becker, whose team trailed 30-0 after three quarters. "It's going to be a dogfight. Lake Forest always plays us tough so our playoffs start a week early and it's win or go home."
After a scoreless first quarter, Warren's Jaden Gregerson intercepted a Liam Crawley pass before racing 23 yards for the touchdown 14 seconds into the second quarter. The first of 5 extra points by Adam Saul made the score 7-0.
Poor field position most of the game for the Patriots resulted in the Blue Devils starting their next drive on the Stevenson 25-yard-line.
Two plays later, quarterback Trinate Jacobs (7-for-16, 110 yards passing) hit Christian Phillips with a perfect timing pass down the right sideline for a 20-yard TD and a 14-0 lead.
"We thought we squandered some opportunities on offense in the first half, but our kids just came out with a ton of juice in the second half," said Warren coach Bryan McNulty, whose team had 345 yards of offense overall. "We have a chance to go 9-0, and we're looking forward to the second season as well so we'll be ready."
Under heavy pressure, Crawley (-18 yards rushing) was sacked in the end zone for a safety and a 16-0 Warren lead midway through the third quarter.
After rushing for over 200 yards last week, Warren senior Derrick McLaughlin ran for 139 yards on 22 carries, including a 7-yard TD run up the middle for a 23-0 lead with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter.
Then after the second interception of the game by Warren's Donville James, the Blue Devils scored again as Torris Childs scored on a 5-yard run among a pack of potential tacklers on his way to the end zone.
"We just played harder in the second half, and the line was doing a great job opening holes," said McLaughlin. "Our plan is to go to state 14-0, and I know we can do it."
Phillips put the finishing touches on the impressive victory with a 24-yard TD catch from Jacobs going over the middle to make the score 37-0 with 8:24 to play.
The Pats will be nervously awaiting the results of a right knee injury that Etienne sustained with 7:04 to go as Etienne had to be helped off the field after awkwardly getting his foot stuck in the field turf on a 4-yard run.
Childs rushed for 47 yards on 10 carries while Phillips ran for 27 yards on 5 attempts.