Lake Zurich looked ahead to the playoffs after a decisive 41-3 victory over Zion-Benton Friday night, as quarterback Zach Till broke the Bears' school record held by three other players by scoring five touchdowns.
Till was typically modest in talking about the accomplishment.
“It was really all the offensive line,” said Till after the game. “And the coaches. They called a great game, setting the fakes. Anyone could have done what I did tonight.”
“Well, I just mean everything was set up to make it really easy for me,” said a smiling Till.
The Bears (7-2, 5-1) stifled the Zee-Bees' first possession when Grant Soucy picked off quarterback Chris Williams' errant pass at Zion-Benton’s 47-yard line. Lake Zurich’s offense went to work, scoring on a seven-play drive that included a 12-yard run and a 15-yard run by Jake Stauner and runs of 6 and 11 yards by Mike Shield. Till’s 2-yard touchdown run capped the drive.
Zion-Benton (3-6, 0-6) technically had a turnover on their next possession as well. After their punt was blocked, the ball bounced into the end zone and William Hussey fell on it. After the PAT was missed, the Bears led 13-0.
The Zee-Bees’ offense was overmatched throughout the game, as Lake Zurich’s defense was in the face of Williams all night, short-circuiting his passing game. Jack Lynn was especially zoned-in, as he continually read and broke up Williams' passing routes throughout the game.
Running back Carlton Reynolds fared just as badly on the ground. Chris Rantis, Rocky Triggiano, Taylor Coleman and Soucy made tackles and broke plays on virtually every series that Zion-Benton had the ball.
The Bears scored their third touchdown on their second possession of the second quarter. The big play was Till’s 29-yard strike to Stauner. Till then ran the ball into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night.
“I was able to push through on the corners and also go up the middle throughout the game,” said Till.
Lake Zurich scored just before halftime to extend their lead to 27-0. After Williams earned the Zee-Bees a first down — one of only six that his team had all night — on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one, he then threw three straight incomplete passes, giving the ball back to the Bears.
Till then hit Brandon Markert for a 31-yard completion down the right sideline, moving the ball to the 1-yard line with nine seconds left before halftime. Till then ran it in, upping the score to 27-0.
The second half was quieter than the first, as coach Bryan Stortz began substituting some of his players as the game progressed into the fourth quarter.
Colton Moskal recovered another Zee-Bees turnover on their first offensive series of the third quarter, spotting Lake Zurich the ball on Zion-Benton’s 16-yard line. Shield and Till each ran the ball twice to get the Bears their fifth touchdown of the night, with Till scoring on a keeper up the middle.
After the Zee-Bees went three-and-out on their next possession, the Bears scored their final touchdown of the night. Starting at their own 44-yard line, Connor Schrader broke off a 22-yard run to get his team to Zion Benton’s 34-yard line.
After a 6-yard gain by Till, Schrader rushed for 13 yards. Till picked up 18 more yards by running up the middle and then cutting to his right. His 3-yard run gave the Bears yet another touchdown and their final points of the night.
Zion-Benton averted a shutout when Hannah Magiera kicked a field goal in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
Bears Pause: Zach Till rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries. All five of his record-breaking touchdowns were on the ground. He was 6-for-12 passing for 109 yards. Mike Shield ran for 55 yards on 11 carries. Lake Zurich had 189 rushing yards and 109 passing yards. Zion-Benton had just 38 total yards, 22 yards rushing and 16 yards passing. They lost 35 of their already-slender offensive output due to a fumble for minus-35 yards. Till's five TD's broke the record of four touchdowns in a game, held by Jacob Brinlee, who did it three times, and Jon Janus and the late Chris Redding, who both did it once.
Next Up: The Bears will find out who their opponent will be in next week’s first playoff game when it’s announced on Comcast Saturday at 8 p.m.