Needing a win to complete a three-game streak and slip into the postseason, the Lyons Township football team (5-4) came out gunning on all cylinders Friday night to blow away the Leyden Eagles (7-2), 49-6.
The Lions scored touchdowns on all four of their first-half drives, plus two from their defense, to open up a gaping 42-6 first-half lead, adding a second-half touchdown from the team’s substitutes to send the game clock into a mercy-rule speed-run. [Watch game highlights here.]
With the win, Lyons Township secured a postseason berth that looked dubious three weeks ago when the Lions sat at 2-4. But with a fierce strength of schedule and three straight wins down the line, the team will easily make one of the playoffs’ lower seeds.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” said LT coach Kurt Weinberg. “It was a really good game as far as execution… I’m really pleased with the way we came out and got it done.”
The Lions scored a takeaway on the first drive of the game when Matthew Harris easily picked off a floating pass on defense, then caught a 10-yard slant touchdown from quarterback Zach Mahoney on offense to go up 7-0.
Just a few plays later, following a failed onside kick, LT cornerback Connor Onion jumped in front of a bubble screen and took it 85 yards the other direction for a second touchdown.
Mahoney would next connect on a 38-yard TD pass to Marcell Kellum later in the quarter, and on the Eagles’ next drive Victor Conforti broke up a wide-receiver lateral, with Harris taking the fumble 46 yards into the end zone for a 28-0 Lions lead.
LT would score two more touchdowns in the first half: a one-yard plunge from Leonard Ross to end a drive he himself extended by going 63 yards on a screen-pass to convert a 3rd and 24, and a 25-yard scramble from Mahoney. The Lions led 42-6 at halftime.
Leyden, the West Suburban Conference Gold champions, were hard up for highlights, having only a 76-yard pass from Justin Rivera to Quintin Morgan that led to a 1-yard Rivera plunge for the Eagles’ only score. (The extra point went off the upright.)
The Lions also got a second-half touchdown on a 10-yard run by Alex Fischer, and a punt block from Patrick Kelley. Mahoney was 8-of-15 for 97 yards and two touchdowns, plus 38 yards and a TD on the ground. Ross carried eight times for 81 yards and one touchdown, with Fischer running for 62 yards on six attempts and one TD.
On defense, John Phillipp had four solo tackles and two assists; Lawrence Burks and Matt Mrazek each has two solos and three assists. Fischer and Benjamin Grissim each had a sack for an eight-yard loss.
Playoff seeding will be announced on Saturday. LT is expected to have a difficult first round, facing an 8-1 or 7-2 team. (Then again, they did just crush a 7-1 team.)
“We’ve really kind of been in the playoffs for three weeks now,” Weinberg said, suggesting the team will be more than ready. “This will be our fourth week of win-or-go-home.”