Pirrone's late TD run lifts Lake Zurich over Belvidere North
It definitely wasn't easy, but in the end top-seeded Lake Zurich got the job done Saturday afternoon in the Bears' Class 6A quarterfinal playoff football game against No. 4 seed Belvidere North.
It took a 21-yard touchdown run from senior Chris Pirrone to finally put away the pesky Blue Thunder with 6:49 to play. The Bears (11-1) will host No. 3 Cary Grove (10-2) next Saturday in the semifinals. The perennial power Trojans easily rolled past No. 7 Geneva 41-7 on Saturday.
Leading 10-7, Belvidere North's Alan Perez missed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide right with 10:04 to play which gave Lake Zurich the ball back on its own 20.
Lake Zurich quarterback Lucas Lappin (2-for-9, 54 yards) had little success throwing the ball throughout the contest. But he hit Jackson Piggott with a 38-yard pass on the second play of the drive to put the ball on the Blue Thunder's 39-yard-line.
Five plays later, Pirrone (139 yards on 31 carries) broke free right up the middle of the defense for a 21-yard TD run before the extra point by Jesus Vilchis made the score 14-10.
"We knew having not seen their (triple-option) offense in our league it was going to be hard. Hats off to Belvidere North, they're a great football team with a lot of pride and tradition," said Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz. "I was just really proud of our resolve, I was proud of the way our kids fought, never gave up, and lived up to the tradition that is LZ."
Belvidere North only threw the ball once, but its time-consuming offense was effective starting with a 60-yard TD run by Nico Bertolino (85 yards on 8 rushes) for a 7-0 lead just 2:29 into the contest. Then Perez hit a 46-yard field goal to boost the lead to 10-0 late in the first quarter.
The Bears offense struggled throughout the first half. But a huge miscue by the Blue Thunder on a pitch play cost them as Lake Zurich's Conner Sole recovered a fumble by Bertolino on the Belvidere North 26.
Six plays later, Pirrone scored on a 3-yard TD run to cut the lead to 10-7 just 37.8 seconds before halftime.
"The key next week is most likely going to be the same thing. They (Cary-Grove) run triple-option, and they're a heck of a team," said Pirrone, who has over 1,200 rushing yards and 17 rushing TDs in the 11 games he has played in. "That team is great, they have a bunch of great football players, and it's going to be a dogfight."
The Blue Thunder had a chance to win the game late, but on fourth-and-6, Lake Zurich's Nolan Siko made a crucial tackle on Bertolino at the Bears' 23-yard-line before the Bears were able to run out the clock with two first downs.
Belvidere North's Trent Dinsmore had 114 yards on 21 carries while teammate Noah Rooney had 33 yards on 4 rushes. Lake Zurich's Lincoln Adams had 16 yards on 4 rushes while quarterback Max Gyllenswan had 25 yards on 9 keepers for North.
"Cary-Grove has been a staple of 6A football for a long time so as far as I'm concerned they're the favorites," added Planz. "We've got to beat them. They're the ones that have owned the north of 6A, and it's our job to be the underdog and win this game."