Glenbard West called on its strong running game and swarming defense to overwhelm host Lyons Township 31-3 in both teams’ West Suburban (Silver) Conference opener on Friday night.
The match-up offered a highly anticipated rematch after the Lions stunned Glenbard West 31-13 last season to forge a three-way share of the conference championship between LT, Glenbard West and York.
This time around, the Hilltoppers (3-0, 1-0) earned their measure of revenge early by racing out to a 17-3 halftime lead, fueled by Avery Balogh’s touchdown runs of 41 and 39 yards.
“We talked about our loss [to LT] all offseason,” Balogh said. “It feels really good to perform well and avenge the loss.”
Trailing 17-0, LT finally got on the scoreboard when junior Luke Nelson nailed a 22-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining until the half.
Balogh (12 carries, 191 yards) broke loose for his third touchdown on a 50-yard scamper late in the third quarter. Joe Zito added a 14-yard run into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter to close the scoring at 31-3.
“Glenbard West is better than us,” LT coach Kurt Weinberg said. “They are a heckuva football team and kicked our butts in all phases of the game. We have a lot of room for improvement that’s for sure.”
Weinberg used both starting quarterback Connor Onion and backup Zach Mahoney against the Hilltoppers, but LT never found any offensive continuity.
“We’re just trying to find our way at the quarterback spot,” Weinberg said. “There are times when we make some really nice plays and other times when we’re missing opportunities. Our offense needs to be more efficient.”
Onion (12-of-26, 168 yards) was intercepted three times in the second half, one of those picks made by Penn State-bound defensive lineman Tommy Schutt. The Lions also struggled running the football, picking up a paltry 35 yards on 22 carries. On the night, LT had 176 yards of total offense.
“Obviously, everybody is disappointed because we’ve only scored three points over the last eight quarters,” Onion said. “There were a lot of passing windows [tonight]. I just have to settle down and make the throws. We missed a lot of opportunities.”
Defensively, LT played well in spots against Glenbard West but too many missed tackles led to costly big plays. The Lions (1-2, 0-1) now turn their attention to this week’s game at Downers Grove North (Friday, 7:30 p.m.).
“We have to get back to the fundamentals,” LT wide receiver Rennick Thompson said. “The loss [to Glenbard West] is sour, but all we can do is move on and play better.”