Warren football stages epic comeback to beat Lake Zurich

Warren moves to 3-0 in conference play

Warren's Aaron Stewart runs against Lake Zurich in a football game in Lake Zurich on Friday, September 22, 2023

LAKE ZURICH – It was the showdown that everyone was waiting for when host Lake Zurich met Warren in a North Suburban Conference matchup between two perennial powers Friday night.

The game lived up to its billing as the visiting Blue Devils fell behind 17-7 at halftime only to turn things around in the second half en route to an exciting 21-17 North Suburban Conference victory.

Warren (3-2, 3-0) fell behind 7-0 just 1:12 into the contest when Lake Zurich quarterback Lucas Lappin (129 yards on 10 carries) faked a handoff before racing 82 yards for the touchdown.

Playing without injured quarterback Nate Foster, the Blue Devils marched 64 yards on 8 plays as a 2-yard TD run by Donovan McNeal (158 yards on 18 rushes) deadlocked the score at 7-7 on the last play of the first quarter.

Lake Zurich (4-1, 2-1) responded with a 26-yard TD pass from Lappin to Jackson Piggott for a 14-7 lead with 8:42 left in the second quarter. Then Jesus Vilchis kicked a 25-yard field goal on the last play of the first half for a 17-7 lead.

Warren dominated time of possession in the second half as a 1-yard TD run by Aaron Stewart (74 yards on 20 attempts) cut the lead to 17-14 with 8:47 to play.

Lake Zurich’s Chris Pirrone had no running room as he was held to 24 yards on 15 carries in the contest.

Then on a fourth-and-1, McNeal broke off a 62-yard TD run as the Warren crowd exploded, leading 21-17 with 4:45 remaining.

“Warren is a great program, we just didn’t have enough in the tank at the end, but I’m proud of our kids,” said Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz. “We had a shot, we just didn’t finish. We didn’t have the ball much in the second half, they were aggressive on defense, and we just didn’t take advantage of anything we could get going in the second half.”

Warren quarterback Jack Wolf was 6-for-12 for 97 yards while Lappin was 5-for-12 for 74 yards.

“The second half we went to what we know, run the ball and they couldn’t stop it,” said McNeal. “If we keep doing what we did in the second half we’re going to be a really unstoppable team and this is a real confidence builder.”

Warren coach Brian McNulty said his team had the mentality of a boxer.

“The whole time we just kept telling the kids just keep being tough, keep being resilient, just keep coming back,” McNulty said. “That’s a good football team over there, Donovan is like a 550-pound squatter, he’s really strong, and his lower body strength is outstanding.”