LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. – The heroes and location had changed from a year ago, but the result was just the same.
For the second consecutive season, Stevenson drove the field in the final minutes to knock off conference rival Lake Zurich. On Thursday, the Patriots went 98 yards on their game-winning drive, and Kevin Foley scored from 3 yards out with 23 seconds remaining to lift his team to a 24-17 win over visiting No. 9 Lake Zurich.
Last season, the Patriots went 80 yards and scored with six seconds left to pull off 24-23 win at Lake Zurich.
“It’s last year all over again,” Lake Zurich senior Jon Way said. “This time it’s our home field, so we get to celebrate with our fans, which is nice. Yeah, it’s just like déjà vu. We put up points, and we come back for that last touchdown.”
The North Suburban Lake match up was a rollercoaster most of the way through.
After a scoreless first quarter, Stevenson (5-2, 3-1) jumped on Lake Zurich (5-2, 4-1) with three consecutive scores to go up 17-0 in the second quarter. Patriots quarterback Matt Micucci connected with Anthony Bozin for a 55-yard touchdown and then Way for a 10-yard score. Micucci added a 41-yard field goal.
Micucci had one of his finest days as Stevenson’s quarterback. He went 18-for-23 passing for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He was the backup last season.
Lake Zurich closed the first half out with a 39-yard field by Mike Leiva and carried that momentum in the third quarter. The Bears stopped Stevenson on two consecutive drives to open the second half and capitalized with back-to-back touchdowns to even the game.
Lake Zurich quarterback Zach Till scored the first touchdown on a 22-yard run, and Mike Shield plunged in for a 1-yard score to tie the game.
From there, the drama only increased.
Following another Lake Zurich stop, the Bears moved the ball again with ease on Stevenson. They got all the way down to its 1-yard line and faced a fourth and goal. Till attempted to carry the ball in over the left corner, but Stevenson linebacker Carl Miller stepped up and halted him from reaching the goal line.
It was Stevenson’s third goal-line stop of the season.
“Our defense has always stepped it up,” Micucci said. “Those guys make big plays at big times.”
Stevenson’s defense was tested twice more. On Lake Zurich’s next drive, it set up a 33-yard field goal attempt. Miller came through again and blocked the field goal off his helmet. Finally after Stevenson’s last score, Dominykas Bickus intercepted Till to seal the win.
“It was two playoff-caliber football teams just battling it out, slugging, punching,” Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. “It was like 15-round heavyweight boxing match. We had enough in the tank in the end.”
Lake Zurich was left with an empty feeling again.
“We got to play four quarters of football,” Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. “I don’t think we’ve done that as a football team. Here we are in Week 7, and we still haven’t played four quarters. We need to do something coaching-wise, player-wise to do that or it’s going to be tough for us.”
Till rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown. He was 8-of-18 passing for 95 yards.