Lake Zurich Tops Crystal Lake Central; Wauconda Edges St. Edward

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 14, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Lake Zurich Tops Crystal Lake Central; Wauconda Edges St. Edward

Lake Zurich almost couldn't help but beat Crystal Lake Central in the Fox Valley Conference opener on Friday night.

The host Tigers lost fumbles on two of their first seven offensive plays. Central also dropped a hand-off for a 7-yard loss, then needed a good play from a wide receiver to prevent an interception on CLC's fourth possession.

But as bad as things were going for the Tigers, they only trailed 6-0 late in the second quarter.

All of a sudden, a penalty-prone Lake Zurich offense, nearly short-circuited the scoreboard.

The Bears put up 22 points in the final 2:28 of the first half, then covered 112 yards in seven plays on their first two drives of the third quarter.

The end result of that offensive outburst was a 47-7 victory, as Lake Zurich (3-0, 1-0) rolled up 452 total yards.

"To be honest, all our defense played great and kept us from shooting ourselves in the foot, which we were trying to do," said Lake Zurich coach Wayne Kuklinski. "Our defense has played well three straight games. Defense wins games."

The Bears' offensive turnaround was extremely sudden. With Lake Zurich at mid-field late in the second quarter, quarterback John Zitko had completed 2-of-11 passes for 30 yards and an interception.

Then Zitko lobbed the ball perfectly down the right sideline. Mike Redding made a nice catch for a 35-yard gain and suddenly the offense couldn't be stopped.

Two plays later, Zitko found Jeremy DiMartino in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass that put LZ ahead 14-0 with 2:28 left before half-time.

After a sack by Jim Fillinger, and a short punt, Lake Zurich got the ball right back at the CLC 40-yard line.

Zitko quickly hit Ryan Bos for 16 yards, A.C. Thomas for 20 yards, then tossed a two-yard TD to Thor Solverson with :35 on the clock.

Central botched a hand-off on the ensuing kickoff and Ryan Goudge recovered the fumble at the 14-yard line. By this time, Zitko was hot. On the next snap, he lofted a perfect fade to Thomas in the left corner to give LZ a 28-0 advantage with :22 left.

After the slow start, Zitko connected on nine of his last 11 pass attempts for 168 yards and four touchdowns. On the night, he was 11 for 22 for 198 yards.

"I was nervous for the first conference game," Zitko said. "I kept my head in it, came back and did pretty well. My line did a great job. Once I found it, everything went smoothly."

Thomas must have felt like Deion Sanders on Friday night. The Crystal Lake defensive backs consistently gave him a 15-yard cushion.

On the third play of the third quarter, Thomas made a finger-tip catch crossing to his right, turned the corner and scored a 39-yard touchdown. The junior receiver finished with four catches for 88 yards and gained 24 more on a double reverse.

"If they're going to give the receivers and Johnny that much time and space to throw the ball, we're going to capitalize on it," Thomas said.

Later in the third quarter, DiMartino broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown run. The Tigers (0-3) got on the board when Chuck Lowitzki (23 carries, 127 yards) scored on a 5-yard run.

- Mike McGraw

Wauconda 16, St. Edward 13

Something had to give Friday night when St. Edward and host Wauconda met on the gridiron in this non-conference tilt.

The host Bulldogs struggled through the first half, but they came up big in the final 24:00 as they posted an impressive 16-13 victory over St. Edward Friday night.

St. Edward (0-3) was the dominant team in the first half as a 10-play, 51-yard drive was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Dan Sanders to Jimmy Leyden with 5:34 left in the first quarter.

Wauconda (1-2) was victimized late in the second quarter when Leyden intercepted a Jeff Gertz pass in the left flat and took the ball down to the Wauconda 36-yard-line with 1:18 left in the quarter.

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