Breaking It Down: One thing was for certain when traditional powers Downers Grove South and Lyons Township collided Friday night in a West Suburban crossover football game: a highly regarded program was going to start the season 0-2.
Lyons erupted for two quick scores in the opening quarter en route to notching a 38-7 victory in Downers Grove on Friday night, and the host Mustangs never recovered from the Lions’ execution in all three phases of the game as the halftime intermission arrived.
Lyons, with Northwestern-bound senior Matthew Harris scoring four times in the first half, scored 24 unanswered points to take a commanding 38-7 lead into the break. The second half featured methodical and time-consuming drives by Downers South in its bid to regain respectability. But Lyons’ resolve came to the forefront when it mattered most; the Mustangs’ three second-half possessions ended on loss of downs deep inside Lyons territory twice and a lost fumble.
With Lyons’ offensive reserves playing for virtually the entire fourth quarter, the Lions’ opening-half dominance was maintained in the unpredictable one-sided game. Lyons quarterback Zachary Mahoney directed the offense with precision and poise, running when necessary to gain invaluable third-down conversions or connecting with the electric Harris, who scored touchdowns on all three of his receptions from 6, 1 and 20 yards. The Lions’ wideout also carried four times for 70 yards on flanker reverses.
Downers Grove South managed its lone score when Mike Zebold rumbled 52 yards on an improvised bootleg early in the second quarter.
Patch’s MVP: Harris finished with 159 all-purpose yards in authoring the first four-touchdown performance of his prep career. In addition to his three scoring collaborations from Mahoney, Harris’ 38-yard punt return for a score broke the Mustangs’ spirits.
Lyons Stat Pack: Employing a multi-faceted offense with several different options, Lyons spread the wealth. Mahoney was 7-for-10 and 77 yards and the three scores to Harris. Trevon Woods’ 27-yard burst for the Lions in the second quarter was the lone touchdown Harris did not score for the Lions. Brendan Kelly rushed 10 times for 67 yards in mop-up duty for Lyons in the fourth quarter.
Downers South Stat Pack: Zebold was 16-of-27 passing for 198 yards for the Mustangs; the senior also ran 12 times for 55 yards. Feature back Brian Spain had 81 yards on 13 carriers to pace the Mustangs’ ball-carriers.
Quotable I: "The coaches thought I was crazy for the way I hesitated,” Lyons’ Harris said of his back-breaking punt return of a score. “I knew my teammates were going to block well for me. I have a lot of confidence (rushing the ball from the wide receiver position). We use those plays (quick outs in short-yardage situations in the red zone) a lot.”
Quotable II: “Last week was the first time in my 24-year career (at Downers South) that we scored 35 points in a game and didn’t win (a 48-35 loss to South Elgin),” Downers South coach John Belskis said. “They (Lyons) didn’t punt tonight. We were in this position (0-2) a few years and ended up making the quarterfinals. We have to get more focused (on defense). We have to start playing better. We’re still going to coach them the same way (as if we were 2-0).”
Team records: Lyons Township improved to 1-1; Downers South fell to 0-2.
What’s Next: The teams open West Suburban Gold and Silver action, respectively, in Cicero and Glen Ellyn. Downers South faces Morton on Friday night; the Lions travel to Glenbard West Saturday afternoon.
Scores of Interest: In other crossover play Friday night, Hinsdale South throttled York 49-21 and Glenbard West did likewise to Willowbrook in a running-clock game of 49-7. Check out IHSA ScoreZone for late results.