Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
By Mike Clark
Twelve weeks into the season, someone finally figured out a way to slow down Simeon's high-powered offense.
No. 9 Lake Zurich turned the trick, limiting the Wolverines to one first down before halftime and no points till the fourth quarter Saturday.
Photos: Lake Zurich vs. Simeon
The Bears held off a spirited Simeon comeback to win 17-14 in a Class 7A quarterfinal at Gately Stadium, sending the Bears to the state semifinals for the fifth time in nine seasons. Lake Zurich (11-1) will play the St. RitaCarmel winner next weekend. No. 2 Simeon, seeking its first trip to the semis, finished 11-1.
"They came out trying to run the ball like a lot of teams do," Lake Zurich linebacker JJ Raffelson said. "We have a great run defense and we planned all week for that."
Simeon had four three-and-outs on its six possessions in the first three quarters, which ended with the Bears up 17-0.
"We could have done some things right in the first half that could have changed the game offensively," said Simeon coach Dante Culbreath, whose team came in averaging 51 points a game. "We couldn't execute, we didn't execute the first half. We just got started too late."
Lake Zurich, on the other hand, was clicking on offense all night even though Simeon was keying on senior running back Jacob Brinlee (21 carries, 72 yards). Fullback John Mularz, who suffered a torn MCL in practice earlier this season, gained a game-high 119 yards on 20 carries and Tim Sayre added 73 yards on eight carries.
"People are going to try to take Brinlee away and we've got to be able to have other guys step up," Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said.
Brinlee's two-yard touchdown run with 12 seconds left in the first quarter was the only score of the first half. He scored from a yard out with 6:07 left in the third quarter to make it 14-0.
Lake Zurich's Chris Rantis intercepted Simeon's Robert Gregory (9-of-12, 131 yards) on the Wolverines' next possession and the Bears' Scott Walding kicked a 24-yard field goal on the last play of the third quarter, pushing the lead to 17-0.
The Bears' defense came up with another takeaway when Mike Rantis recovered a Simeon fumble. But an 11-yard punt into a stiff south wind set up the Wolverines at the Bears' 30 and Gregory hit Darius Scott with a touchdown pass on the next play, making it 17-7 with 8:13 to play.
A muffed snap on a punt gave Simeon good field position again, and once more the Wolverines converted. Gregory's 31-yard touchdown pass to Scott pulled Simeon within 17-14 with 2:59 to play. But Lake Zurich ran out the clock, getting first-down runs by Brinlee and Mularz.
"The game plan was to run down the clock as much as possible and we wanted to keep Simeon's offense off the field," Mularz said.