Two extra-point kicks that were made and two PAT attempts that failed were the difference as visiting Deerfield opened its season with a 14-12 win over Zion-Benton on Friday night.
The Warriors struck first as running back Jacob Balder capped a short drive with a two-yard TD run. Matt Zull’s fumble recovery at the Z-B 27 set up the score.
Michael Maki’s all-important kick split the uprights for a 7-0 lead.
Zion’s Alex Pasiewicz (15 carries, 70 yards) scored on a two-yard run with 20 seconds to go in the half, finishing a nine-play, 53-yard drive. But Sean Paul Stickleman’s PAT kick sailed wide.
In the third quarter, Alex Williams scored on a 54-yard run and Maki’s second kick gave the Warriors a 14-6 lead.
That held up when Zion’s Eric Gilmore scored on a six-yard run with eight minutes left to cap a 76-yard drive.
Most of the yardage was gained by the passing of sophomore QB Dillon Appenzeller (15-of-24, 115 yards passing in the game).
However, after Gilmore’s scored, Appenzeller’s two-point pass play was knocked down by a host of Warrior defenders.
Zion had only one more possession in the game, and that ended when Mason Lundberg intercepted an Appenzeller pass with 2:13 left that bounced off a receiver and was picked just before it hit the ground on the Z-B 45.
Zion coach Bob Strickland wasn’t so sure that the pick was clean.
“We’re going to send the tape to the officials,” he said. “I’m sure the ball hit the ground. But, we still made too many mistakes (five turnovers, eight penalties for 67 yards) which cost us the game.”
After the pick, Deerfield ran out the clock.
“Our offense was boring to death,” said Warriors coach Steve Winiecki. . “We did what we needed to do. That’s the way we wanted to play in four first game.
“We knew it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight, with our defense and special teams carrying us.
“And that’s what happened.”
Deerfield’s offense was led by Alec Frank, who carried 15 times for 42 yards. Williams had three carries for 56 yards, including the long TD run.