Libertyville plays waiting game after beating Zion-Benton
The Libertyville football team has done its part.
With seemingly little hope and a 2-4 record just a couple of weeks ago, the Wildcats posted their third straight victory when they toppled visiting Zion-Benton 43-22 in North Suburban Conference action on Friday night.
Five wins make teams eligible for the playoffs so the Cats have to wait until Saturday night to learn their postseason fate. However, they entered Friday's game with just 30 playoff points and the projected cut is higher than that.
Friday's was a solid team effort against Zion (3-6, 2-5). The win also erased memories of the beating in the snow the Cats suffered to the Zee-Bees a year ago almost to the day. It was the first time Zion had beaten Libertyville in 27 years.
"We had a game plan and executed it well tonight," said junior quarterback Blake Ellingson, who orchestrated the Cats to a 43-0 halftime lead and a running clock. "Everyone, especially the seniors, were super-psyched because they didn't want this to be their last game."
Senior wideout Brian Stacy hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass as Libertyville (5-4, 4-3) took just over 2 minutes to get on the board with the contest's opening drive.
"We did everything on our part," said Cats coach Mike Jones. "We just went about our business and stayed focused."
The defense got into the act when senior defensive back Cole Fiorenza stepped in front of an Eric Franklin pass and took it to the house 38 yards for a score and Libertyville was ahead 16-0 with 8:25 left in the first.
Ellingson then took care of business with his feet, dashing 33 yards for a score and a 22-0 lead after one period of play.
"I was hurt last year but we remember what they did to us," added Ellingson, who finished 5-for-7 passing for 94 yards while also rushing for 141 yards on 5 carries, all in the first half. "We really needed to get on them early and we did. I was making good reads and good throws and the line was awesome."
Ellingson then added a 9-yard scoring run before tossing a 47-yard scoring strike to senior wideout Dylan Drumke to put the Cats ahead 36-0 with 6:15 left in the second frame.
Libertyville's final score came on an 8-yard plunge by senior running back Shaun Luce, who finished the game with 10 carries for 73 yards.
Zion-Benton spoiled the shutout when Jordan Chisum scurried to the end zone from 20 yards to make it 43-6 with 4:14 left in the third. The Bees then got a 68-yard run on a reverse from Chisum to Stephan Watkins to make it 43-14. Watkins then hauled in an 80-yard pass from Franklin to the final scoring.
The Cats' defense harassed Franklin all night to the tune of 6 sacks. Dillon McDonald and Joseph Ferreira each batted down passes in the first quarter.
With the game pretty much on ice, mostly reserves played. Matt Brenner carried most of the second half load, finishing with 92 yards on 20 attempts.