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Lyons Township kicker Jake Elliot kicked a game-winning 52-yard field goal in the closing seconds to hand Oak Park a 16-14 loss on Saturday.
After LT quarterback Connor Onion misfired on a couple of pass attempts, the host Lions elected to bring in the junior kicker on third down with less than 10 seconds remaining in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference game.
“This is definitely exciting,” Elliot said minutes after his dramatic kick. “I didn’t think we were going to get another chance for me to get back in the game especially after [Oak Park] had the momentum. To get the chance to make a 52-yard field goal is incredible.”
Trailing LT 13-0 entering the fourth quarter, the Huskies made an impressive comeback highlighted by a couple of key plays. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Lintvelt scored on a 1-yard run and Jakari Cammon ran in the 2-point conversion to pull Oak Park within 13-8 at the 8:39 mark of the fourth quarter. Lyons wideout Matt Harris had a 65-yard run into the end zone called back on a holding penalty late in the quarter. Two plays later, Oak Park defensive lineman Nile Sykes scooped up an LT fumble and returned it 35 yards for a score to give the Huskies a 14-13 lead with 1:53 left in the game.
The Huskies (2-4, 1-3) had the ball with less than a minute remaining but was forced to punt deep in their territory. Lyons (3-3, 2-2 West Suburban Silver) took over at the Huskies’ 35 with 14.5 seconds left, setting the stage for Elliot’s heroics.
“We had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty [after Syke’s touchdown] which made us kick off further back,” Oak Park coach John Hoerster said. “It’s a game of field position, and we didn’t do a whole lot to help ourselves at times. We played hard and we’ll grow as a team from this experience.”
In a second half filled with momentum changes, LT scored 13 points in the third quarter courtesy of Elliot’s two other field goals (19, 34 yards) and Onion’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Jaime Jones.
“At times, both teams deserved to win but also deserved to lose,” LT coach Kurt Weinberg said. “Our guys showed a lot of character and heart. I think along with a golfer who has to make those money putts, being a kicker is one of the most pressurized positions in sports. Jake [Elliot] came through for us.”
For all its excitement, the game also included a scoreless first half and sloppy play illustrated by both teams’ four turnovers apiece. Cammon, one of the most prolific running backs in the conference, believes the Huskies will bounce back.
“We just came out on the short end of the stick [today],” he said. “We have to keep moving forward and working hard. We’re a tough team. Our chance is still there to make the playoffs, but we just can’t make the minor mistakes.”
Photos by J. GEIL/Photo editor