Lyons – 45
Bartlett – 42

Unbelievable comeback conference wins over Oak Park and York highlighted the Lyons Township football team’s second-half of the season surge to qualify for the playoffs. But the Lions offered arguably their most memorable and certainly most meaningful rally during a 45-42 win over host Bartlett on Saturday in the opening round of the Class 8A playoffs.

Trailing Bartlett 35-10 late in the second quarter, the resilient Lions scored 35 of the game’s final 42 points, including 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.

“I think we played some of our best football tonight,” LT coach Kurt Weinberg said. “We have a little something going on. Hopefully, we can carry it over to the next game.”

Lyons (6-4) took its first and decisive lead at 45-42 with 2:42 remaining in the game when Matthew Harris scored on an 18-yard touchdown run. With 15 seconds left, Bartlett kicker Ian Dobek attempted a game-tying field goal which sailed wide left.

The Lions’ long road back to Saturday’s win started in the second quarter after Jamie Jones (19 carries, 130 yards, 3 TDs) broke free for a 14-yard touchdown with a 1:34 left before halftime to make the score 35-17. Harris scored on a 30-yard run late in the third quarter, whittling the Hawks’ advantage to 35-24, but Bartlett (7-3) responded with an 11-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left to push their lead back to 42-24.

The fourth quarter was all LT as Jones opened the scoring barrage on a seven-yard touchdown run at the 11:10 mark. Lyons quarterback Zach Mahoney (16-for-33, 229 yards) threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Evan Booth (5 catches, 72 yards), making the score 42-38 midway through the final quarter. Harris’ aforementioned 18-yard scoring scamper capped off the Lions’ amazing rally. On the night, the versatile Harris rushed six times for 76 yards, caught six passes for 69 yards and scored two touchdowns.

The LT defense earned equal billing for the inspiring win with a stellar second-half effort. Mike Thomas led the Lions with 13 tackles, while Billy Cramsie (10 tackles) and Will Konstant (8 tackles) also served as effective ballhawks. Robert Mitchell had an interception for LT.

Bartlett running back James Butler rushed for 193 yards on 22 carries. The Hawks’ Air Force-bound quarterback A.J. Bilyeu completed 15 of 23 passes for 242 yards.

“Our defensive coaching staff made some nice adjustments at halftime,” Weinberg said. “Butler is one of the better running backs we faced all season. Offensively, I thought we moved the ball well all night. For the most part, we accomplished what we wanted on offense. It was a great team win.”

The Lions host Glenbrook South in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs on Saturday (7 p.m.).