The Lyons Township football team rolled into Oak Park Stadium on Friday night with an undefeated record, while the host Huskies had dropped three of their last four games. Records can be deceiving.
Although the Lions escaped with a 14-9 victory, the Huskies controlled the line of scrimmage and were well-positioned to pull off the conference upset.
On the Huskies’ third play from scrimmage, LT defensive back Will Konstant (13 tackles) recovered an OPRF fumble at the Huskies’ 39. Three plays later, junior running back Jaime Jones (19 carries, 94 yards) scored on a delayed handoff 13-yard run, giving LT a 7-0 lead at the 9:42 mark of the first quarter.
OPRF got on the scoreboard when 6-foot, 245-pound kicker Isaac Chadri booted a 29-yard field goal through the uprights to end the first half.
After a scoreless third quarter, both teams picked up the pace in the final period. Trailing 7-3 midway through the fourth quarter, OPRF orchestrated a 12-play, 80-yard scoring march to pull ahead 9-7 with 6:35 remaining. The stirring drive called for three consecutive measurements on 10-yard runs. Running back Zach Draus (34 carries, 181 yards), who got the starting call because Tony Stapleton (pulled groin injury) was unavailable, carried the ball 11 times during the series. Chadri missed the PAT.
“Zach did a great job for us,” OPRF coach Jim Nudera said. “He ran like a champion and fought tooth and nail all night.”
The elusive Draus followed a consistent push from the Huskies’ offensive line of Ben Carberry, Brad Oxnevad, Michael Raleigh, Alex Moon and Chadri.
“Our offensive line did a great job,” Draus said. “We got a lot of push, but it was hard to score in the red zone. We still have some things we can work on, but this game was a huge improvement from last week (42-0 loss to Glenbard West).”
On its ensuing possession, LT scored when senior quarterback Brian Kelley threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Fiedler over the middle to retake the lead for good at 14-9 with 3:30 remaining. The Huskies’ final offensive series stalled on their 7-yard line after LT linebacker Frank DiGioia sacked OPRF quarterback John Phelan (8-for-15, 51 yards). With less than two minutes left in the game, the Huskies were forced to punt.
The Lions essentially ran out the clock when Kelley converted a fourth-and-7 at the Huskies’ 28 on an eight-yard scamper. Despite the loss, OPRF held the Lions’ explosive offense, averaging well over 30 points per game, relatively in check.
The Huskies’ ballhawking trio of linebackers in Matt McCormak (9 tackles), Connor Harmon (8 tackles) and Joe Donlan (interception, 8 tackles) all flowed well to the football, while Tom Odell, Nile Sykes, Dan Brennan and Jeff Navy also contributed.
“After losing [to Glenbard West 42-0] our pride took a hit,” Donlan said. “We scouted LT and knew about all their scoring threats like [Matt] Harris, [Brian] Kelley and [Alex] Sewall. We gave a great effort but just came up a little short.”
The Huskies travel to Hinsdale Central on Saturday for a noon game.