Warren loses QB, but runs away with win over Stevenson
Warren lost its quarterback to a knee injury in the second quarter, but three different players broke loose for touchdown runs of 50-plus yards and the host Blue Devils used the ground attack to produce a 41-16 victory over Stevenson in the North Suburban Conference.
Senior quarterback Nate Foster had 104 rushing yards in just over a quarter. But on a keeper early in the second, he was hit hard by Stevenson linebacker Griffin Suren. When the players hit the turf, Foster's knee twisted awkwardly and it was clear right away he wasn't OK.
Foster eventually limped to the sideline and junior Jack Wolf, who had 2 receptions as a wide receiver, took over at QB.
"It was a surprise," Wolf said. "I've been a QB before, but seeing Nate go down was tough. Stepping in, we practiced it before, so we were ready for it."
The 6-foot-4 Wolf played mostly basketball and baseball growing up, but took up football when he started high school and played QB on the freshman and JV teams. His job was clearly to avoid mistakes and let the offensive line do its job, and it worked out well, as Warren piled up more than 400 yards rushing.
Sophomore Aaron Stewart finished with 189 yards on 23 carries, senior Donovan McNeal added 131 yards on 15 attempts, while Foster had 104 yards on 7 carries.
"Our two backs are pound-for-pound the strongest players on our team," Warren coach Brian McNulty said of Stewart and McNeal. "So they're just tough, physical kids. Our offensive line is tough and physical and think that just kind of wore on them after as while."
On the possession before Foster got hurt, Warren lost a fumble and the Patriots took advantage with a short 39-yard drive. Stevenson QB Aiden Crawley rolled out and hit fellow sophomore Zach Becker for a 16-yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots ahead 9-7.
After Foster's injury, the Blue Devils got the ball back in good field position and did what they've been known for the past several years -- a long, slow march on the ground. Warren covered 51 yards on 14 running plays and finally scored on a fourth-and-one plunge by fullback Nate Brock with 2:07 left in the second quarter.
After halftime, it looked like Warren might put together a long march, but this time McNeal broke loose and weaved his way for a 57-yard touchdown to make it 20-9. While the Blue Devils defense forced a couple of three-and-outs, Stewart got into the act by bursting through the middle for a 51-yard TD run late in the third quarter. He later added a 37-yard score.
"These guys are big, strong and physical and we knew that coming in," Stevenson coach Brent Becker said. "These guys are going to win a lot of football games. I wouldn't be surprised to see them rip off seven in a row and make a run in the playoffs."
Stewart piled up 261 rushing yards last week in a victory over Libertyville, but started slowly this time as it was Foster who found room to run. A 20-yard scramble set up a 52-yard touchdown on the read option and the Blue Devils finished their first drive with a 7-0 lead.
Stevenson (2-2, 1-1) came close a few times to hitting a big play with senior receiver Armand Burris, but he saw some good coverage from Warren's Dajhir Gordon. Burris finally got on the board with a nice catch in traffic of a 19-yard pass from Crawley in the fourth.
After an 0-2 start in the nonconference schedule, Warren has won two in a row.
"I knew we were going to come back," McNeal said. "We're just a young team. We have about five returning starters. We just have to pick it up as a team."