Warren pulls away from Stevenson in 2nd half
A big second half led Warren to a victory at Stevenson.
The Patriots stayed right with the undefeated Blue Devils through two quarters in Lincolnshire, and had the visitors on their heels in the second quarter when they forced three turnovers.
Warren led just 14-10 at halftime, but tough defense and a strong running game led by Charley Thompson paced the Blue Devils to a 35-16 win.
"To be honest, we kept coming out there, playing hard," said Warren's Jailen Duffie of the stellar second half performance on defense.
Duffie had a key interception in the final stanza.
"We didn't give up -- we just kept going," added Duffie. "We're built for this. We're built to go into the fourth quarter, overtime, second overtime, whatever we need. We're going to keep playing, keep balling."
Warren (4-0) trailed 7-6 in the second quarter when, pinned in its own territory, quarterback Adam Behrens connected on a perfect screen pass to Thompson for a 37-yard game.
That led to a Behrens touchdown run, but Stevenson responded.
They Patriots turned one of the Warren turnovers into a score just before intermission, as kicker Caden An "single-doinked" a 44-yard boot through the uprights.
An's kick bounced high off the crossbar and fell just over.
Blue Devils coach Brian McNulty chalked up the three Warren second quarter giveaways to "attention to detail."
"I think we only had one turnover all year prior to this," said the coach. "It's something we've got to be better with, especially in the red zone. We've got to be really good there and we weren't tonight, so we've got a lot to fix. But I thought the kids fought all night and really responded."
Warren ratcheted up the ground game in the third quarter. Donovan McNeal scored from 12 yards out, then Thompson, who finished with 119 yards rushing, ran one in from 5 yards away.
That gave the Blue Devils a 27-10 lead. Fourth quarter scores came from Stevenson's Michael Maloney (a 10-yard catch on a throw from quarterback Matt Projansky), and a 40-yard run around right end by Warren's Thompson.
The Blue Devils closed out the scoring with a late safety. Early first quarter TDs were by Justin Kretz of Warren (a 2-yard run), and Stevenson's Ben Snider (a 15-yard reception).
"I thought our offense came out (after halftime) and controlled the clock," said McNulty. "Charley ran the ball tough, our fullback and tight ends were really good, and our offensive line played well. It was a good second half for us for sure."