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In their recent run of fantastic finishes on the football field, OPRF and Lyons Township reversed roles Friday at Oak Park Stadium. A year after the Lions' Jake Elliott kicked a clutch 52-yard field goal at the buzzer to edge OPRF, the Huskies called on a committee of stars, notably Lloyd Yates, Jamal Baggett, Jakari Cammon, Tom Odell and Sedrick McDonald, to squeak by LT 35-34.
The crucial victory improves the Huskies' record to 4-2 overall, 2-2 in the West Suburban Silver, while simultaneously earning a measure of revenge against the Lions. Lyons appeared well positioned to win after Elliott nailed a 42-yard field goal to extend the Lions' advantage to 32-20 with 9:13 left in the game. The Huskies went to work, however, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final five minutes.
Yates (15-for-22, 155 yards), a poised sophomore quarterback, tossed a 47-yard pass to Odell to set up his own 2-yard touchdown run on the following play. The score drew OPRF within 32-27. The Huskies then held LT to a three-and-out offensive series, the key play coming on a sack of LT quarterback Zach Mahoney by OPRF linebacker Sedrick McDonald, who was playing in his first game since suffering a foot injury a few weeks ago.
Regaining possession at their 33 with 2:14 remaining, the Huskies calmly marched 67 yards on 10 plays to take the lead. Baggett (12 carries, 120 yards) scored on a 10-yard run with 42 seconds left and Yates connected on a pass to Ryan Nelson for a 2-point conversion and 35-32 advantage.
"That's Huskies football, we fight to the last second on the clock," said Baggett. "We knew we are capable of playing in Week 10. We have so many weapons on offense."
With the dangerous Elliott armed and ready for a game-tying field goal attempt, Odell squashed that possibility by picking off a Mahoney pass. The Huskies conceded a safety making the score 35-34 to essentially run out the clock.
"We're trying to build a culture of hope and belief [within the football program]," OPRF coach John Hoerster said. "Our guys responded to some adversity and that's what champions do."
After Cammon (19 carries, 135 yards) scored on a 34-yard burst up the middle to give OPRF a 6-0 lead, the Lions outscored their hosts 32-14 en route to a 32-20 advantage at the 9:13 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Lions scored on three touchdown pass plays from Mahoney to Jemari Burks, from 19 yards, 22 yards and 12 yards out, coupled with four field goals from Elliott (24, 46, 28, 42 yards). With Northwestern-bound star Matthew Harris out (injury), Burks had a huge game, finishing with 12 catches for 127 yards and several long kickoff returns.
Defensively, Jimmy Heim had two interceptions, Dylante Pleasant a fumble recovery and Patrick Kelley a blocked punt for LT.
"This was the toughest loss I've ever had," Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said. "We couldn't make a tackle. I think that they wanted that game more than we did."
LT (2-4, 1-3), a Class 8A quarterfinalist the last two seasons, must win out to become playoff eligible.
OPRF travels to Hinsdale Central on Oct. 5.
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