LAKE VILLA — It wasn’t pretty from the start for the Vernon Hills football team Thursday, as Lakes dominated the Cougars for a 73-13 victory.
The Cougars dropped to 3-3 on the season and 2-2 in the North Suburban Prairie. They couldn’t get anything going on offense early and fell behind 14-0 after their second offensive possession. They trailed 24-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Going into the game, the Vernon Hills offense had put up a total of 209 points in five games, including 50 last week in a win over Round Lake. So it was unusual to see the Cougars struggle offensively.
“They [Lakes] are a good football team. They were just playing at a higher speed than us,” said Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo. “We just have to watch film and get better for next week.”
The Lakes defense caused problems for the Cougars all night long as it took a 52-7 lead into halftime. It was the Cougars’ biggest halftime deficit of the year.
The Cougars finally found the end zone on a trick play that featured a backwards pass from Connor McNamara to backup quarterback Kyle Hull. Hull found Robby Nardini streaking down the sidelines for a 63-yard touchdown.
McNamara finished with seven completions for 32 yards before leaving the game at halftime.
“We just didn’t execute tonight and it was just a tough night overall,” he said.
While the Cougars’ offense couldn’t get anything going, their defense struggled to stop a potent Eagles attack that saw quarterback Jordan Mercure complete his first 14 passes. Mercure finished 16-of-18 for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
“We want to move on and get better,” Bellecomo said. “That’s all we can do from this type of game. I think our defense can be better. It comes down to blocking and tackling.”
The Cougars playoff chance took a hit and their best chance to qualify is to win their remaining three games. They will be on the road for two of those three games at Wauconda next week and then at Grant before their season finale at home against Lake Zurich.
“We know the circumstances we are in and we know how important these next few games are,” McNamara said. “Hopefully this will motivate us and we can get a win next week.”