Stevenson makes big plays in ‘fun’ win over Libertyville

SHARE Stevenson makes big plays in ‘fun’ win over Libertyville

LIBERTYVILLE — Asked earlier in the week to give one key to beating Stevenson, the top-ranked team in the Sun-Times Super 25, Libertyville football coach Mike Jones gave a pragmatic answer.

“We’ve got to keep plays in front of us. Don’t give up the big play,” Jones said.

It took one play for the Patriots to defy Jones’s edict on Friday night in front of a raucous crowd at Libertyville.

On the first play from scrimmage, Stevenson quarterback Willie Bourbon lateraled the ball to junior wide receiver Jack Sorenson on the right side of the field. Sorenson then threw a bomb to Cameron Green, resulting in a 58-yard scoring play that quieted Wildcat fans and put the home team in a hole. Stevenson’s 34-14 victory over Libertyville (6-3, 3-3) capped an undefeated 9-0 season for the Patriots and gave them a second consecutive North Suburban Conference Lake championship.

“We knew coming in that was going to be our first play,” Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. “We tried to have a little fun tonight.”

The fun continued for the entire first half. Stevenson ran only six offensive plays but led by two touchdowns. A 42-yard touchdown pass from Bourbon to a single-covered Green (three catches, 132 yards, two touchdowns) upped the lead to 14-0 with 6:09 left in the first quarter. When Patriots senior running back Jack Joseph scored from three yards out in the closing minutes of the first half, it appeared the Patriots would be in position to rest their starters in the second half.

But Libertyville did not go quietly. Showing a fortitude that will be necessary if the Wildcats are to make a long playoff run, Libertyville dominated the third quarter by running 22 offensive plays to the Patriots’ two.

“It was so important. We had to get the momentum back on our side,” senior running back Sean Ferraro said.

Junior quarterback Riley Lees (24 carries, 177 yards rushing, 9-of-21 passing for 139 yards with two interceptions) faced a ferocious Stevenson pass rush led by senior linemen Pat O’Connell and Nick Dillon.

But on the first possession of the second half, Lees’ 1-yard touchdown plunge capped a 13-play, 74-yard drive to make the deficit 21-7. On the ensuing Patriots possession, Joseph fumbled the ball back to the Wildcats, who took over on the Patriots’ 46-yard line. A 10-play drive ended with no points when senior John Lubenow missed a 34-yard field goal wide left.

Stevenson then went on a clock-killing drive that lasted 6:07, ending in a 1-yard score from Joseph (12 carries, 70 yards, two touchdowns), putting the game out of reach at 27-7 with 5:03 left.

“I was preaching to the guys, ‘We have to keep our defense off the field,’ ” said Bourbon, who was terrific through the air in going 12-of-14 for 205 yards and two touchdowns. “When we get that running game going, get that clock [moving], we can make some plays off play action.”

Libertyville is guaranteed a playoff spot with six wins. Stevenson figures to receive a top seed in Class 8A when the brackets come out Saturday night.

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