Considering Lyons Township and Downers Grove South scored 63 points, collectively, in losing a pair of Week 1 games, Friday night’s West Suburban Conference crossover matchup was billed as an offensive showdown.
The visiting Lions upheld their end of the scoring hype by providing mostly one-way traffic into the end zone via their 38-7 victory over the host Mustangs. Northwestern-bound Matthew Harris led the Lions’ diversified attack with three touchdown catches and a punt return for another score – all in the first half.
LT (1-1) set the tone offensively on its first possession with a 10-play, 60-yard scoring march capped off by quarterback Zach Mahoney’s five-yard slant pass to Harris at the 9:45 mark of the first quarter. After holding the Mustangs to a three-and-out series, Jemari Burks returned a punt 25 yards, allowing LT to set up shop at South’s 25-yard line. Five plays later, Mahoney (7-for-11, 83 yards) connected with Harris again on a slant pass play from a yard out, making the score 14-0.
Downers Grove South (0-1) battled back briefly when quarterback Mike Zebold bolted around the right side for a 52-yard touchdown run in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
Up 14-7, LT put the game out of reach with 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to seize a commanding 38-7 advantage. Second quarter highlights included: Trevon Woods’ 28-yard touchdown run, Jake Elliott’s 23-yard field goal, Harris’ 37-yard punt return for touchdown, and a Mahoney to Harris 20-yard touchdown pass. The elusive Harris racked up over 150 all-purpose yards, while reserve Brendan Kelly added 72 yards rushing in the second half.
Defense and special teams also contributed to the Lions’ nearly flawless first half performance as Patrick Kelley (blocked a punt), Billy Cramsie (sack, recovered blocked punt) and John Phillip (interception) all made an impact.
Downers Grove South drove the ball deep into LT territory but failed to score from the 3-yard line as time ran out in the first half. Overall, the Lions’ defense did a superb job of containing the Mustangs’ usually explosive offense that features Zebold (16-for-26, 206 yards), Brian Spain (15 carries, 78 yards), wideout Kaylon Miller and highly touted 6-7, 285-pound offensive lineman freshman Erik Swenson. The Mustangs threatened to score several times as the game progressed, but the LT defense held strong, causing a pair of turnovers en route to pitching a shutout in the second half.
Aside from securing an all important first win on the season, LT gained a measure of revenge by erasing the memory of a 28-0 loss to Downers Grove South.
The Lions open West Suburban (Silver) Conference play at Glenbard West at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 8). The Hilltoppers are loaded with talent, notably Vanderbilt commit Nathan Marcus, Division I prospect Ruben Dunbar and quarterback Henry Haeffner. Glenbard West (1-0) notched an impressive 28-7 win against Wheaton-Warrenville South in Week 1 action.