Lyons      21
Sandburg 20

Lyons Township senior quarterback Brian Kelley and junior running back Jaime Jones shared the spotlight in a thrilling 21-20 win over visiting Sandburg in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs on Friday.

The Eagles jumped on LT early via Chris Gomez’s six-yard touchdown run, Taylor Zalewski’s 45-yard field goal and quarterback Cody Miller’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Tres Oliver. Miller completed 10 of 13 passes for 125 yards, while Gomez (12 carries, 65 yards) and Jermell Harris (9 carries, 42 yards) paced the Sandburg ground game.

Trailing 17-7 late in the first half, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Kelley (10-for-15, 120 passing yards) ignited the Lions’ rally on a timely one-yard touchdown run with just two seconds remaining until halftime. Mike Pett added the PAT to whittle the Eagles’ advantage to 17-14 at the break.

“We played Sandburg my freshman year and they beat us 8-6 and they annihilated us in a 7 on 7 [game],” Kelley said. “They are a tough team. We just followed our offensive line and made plays.”

Zalewski nailed a 33-yard field goal to extend the Sandburg lead to 20-14 with 1:47 left in the third quarter. On the Lions’ ensuing possession, Kelley connected with Chris Klotz on a 35-yard pass play to set up a two-yard run by Jones (22 carries, 92 yards) with under a minute remaining in the quarter.

“We didn’t doubt that we’d come back,” Jones said. “Brian [Kelley] has a switch that he just turns on. He’s a great leader.”

The LT defense certainly came to life as well holding Sandburg to a field goal in the second half. Mark Sewall, Matthew Harris, Mike Thomas, Kyle Shinall, Joe Gonzalez, Corey Jefco, Frank DiGioia and several others led the Lions’ stout second-half defensive showing.

Lyons (10-1), which set a school record for single season wins with its 10th victory, moves on to play Mt. Carmel (9-2) at Gately Stadium in Class 8A quarterfinal action on Friday (7 p.m.).

The Caravan edged Neuqua Valley 21-14 in overtime last week. Coached by the legendary Frank Lenti, Mt. Carmel runs a potent option offense that features dual threat quarterback Chris Sujka along with running backs Michael Banks and Brandon Greer. Mt. Carmel (10 state titles) will be making its 22nd quarterfinal appearance over the last 25 seasons when they face LT.

“Mt. Carmel is a really good team,” Sewall said. “They have a great coach and know how to win in the playoffs. We feel though we can match up against their option [offense] with our speed.”