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Stevenson comes up short
By Jeff Newton | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 8/27/2011 2:10 AM

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The ball was right in the hands of the guy Stevenson coach Bill McNamara wanted it in as time wound down in the Patriots' season opener at Lyons Township on Friday night.

First-year starter Matt Micucci was the man that McNamara had confidence in, and Micucci was sharing that confidence with fellow senior Troy Radtke.

After all, Radtke and Micucci were friends, teammates and made up a receiver-quarterback tandem that had grown tight long before the 2011 season kicked off.

"I always know that if I put it up there, Troy is going to be right there," Micucci said of Radtke.

Their friendship off the field and camaraderie on it made it easy to see how the Patriots were able to overcome numerous mistakes and still have a shot at the end to beat the Lions.

On what turned out to be the final drive of the night, Micucci and Radtke hooked up continuously on play after play, putting Stevenson at the Lyons 33-yard line with 1:44 to play.

But the one time the two didn't connect all night proved to be the end of the night for the Patriots. Micucci's pass intended for Radtke was intercepted by Connor Wasz to secure a wild 24-19 win for the Lions.

"We have all the confidence in the world in Matt as our quarterback," McNamara said. "He showed tonight that he can make plays and lead the offense."

The final interception was one of four on an otherwise rough night for Micucci. While his stats looked good as he threw for 253 yards and a touchdown to Radtke, the turnovers were the thing that ultimately cost the Patriots.

"We just left our defense on the field way too much tonight in bad situations," Micucci said. "Coach said they played somewhere near 80 plays tonight and you can't expect a defense to do that and not give up points."

Lyons (1-0) built up a 24-7 lead midway through the third quarter before the Patriots' offense became a quick-strike unit.

"Even at that point I don't think we really felt like we were out of the game," McNamara said. "Our defense was keeping us in and keeping us in until we got our offense going."

Micucci led the offense on a 4-play, 51-yard drive that took all of 85 seconds to cut the margin to 24-13. Radtke capped the drive with a circus catch in the end zone just barely getting his right foot in.

"I know if Matt puts the ball out there I am going to come down with it and that was what I did on that play," said Radtke who hauled in 7 balls for 168 yards on the night.

The defense for Stevenson (0-1) came up with one last stop and the visitors drove through a tired Lyons defense before Wasz came up with the big defensive play."

"It speaks to the depth that we have back there and if we don't have that kind of depth, we can't beat a heck of a team like Stevenson," said Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg.