Frankie Walsh and his teammates on the Lyons Township High School football team were unhappy with their performance following Friday night’s game with Morton.
Yet they remain unbeaten.
Walsh, a senior defensive lineman, was part of a unit that held the visiting Mustangs without a first down in the second half as the Lions (2-0) came from behind three times to pull out a 23-20 victory at Bennett Field in Western Springs.
“It was a lot tougher (than expected),” Walsh said. “Morton came out firing and I can’t explain it.
“I consider it the ugliest win in LT football history. It’s a win, but I feel there’s room for improvement on both sides of the ball.”
While there is no doubt about that, it must also be said that Morton is one of the best 0-2 teams around. The perennial doormats of the West Suburban Conference have lost their first two games by a combined four points and led the Lions until late in the third quarter.
“Second half we were able to pull through but first half they came out firing,” Walsh said. “I’m not happy with that. We can’t let that happen because when we face (teams) like Glenbard West, they’re going to be coming at us all four quarters.”
Morton sophomore Greg Hoard gashed the LTHS defense for 168 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Ben Duarte intercepted a pass from Ben Bryant and returned it 45 yards for his first career touchdown to put the visitors up 20-13 with 22 seconds left in the first half.
But Hoard was held to one yard on seven carries in the second half and the Mustangs netted minus-11 yards of total offense after the break.
“Coach (Bryan) Bergman, our defensive coordinator, made some nice adjustments, but basically we just kind of sold out on the run and said, ‘hey, if they’re going to beat us they’re going to beat us throwing,’ and we just started doing our jobs better,” LTHS coach Kurt Weinberg said. “We were staying on our feet and attacking and being more aggressive.
“We were very disappointed with our speed of play in the first half and that significantly increased, but the bottom line is Morton took it to us in the first half in very impressive fashion.”
Bryant showed impressive poise in bouncing back from the pick-six. He capped a 10-play, 50-yard drive by scoring his second touchdown of the night on a one-yard run to tie the game at 20 with 1:24 left in the third quarter.
Bryant completed 10-of-15 passes for 126 yards, including a 14-yard completion to fellow sophomore Brandon Fischer on the game-tying drive and a 13-yard slant to Jimmy Saracco on the play immediately preceding Carlos Schultz’s 30-yard field goal with 8:12 to go in the fourth quarter.
“(On) that pick, he was throwing it where he should have,” Weinberg said. “Our receiver ran the wrong route. If you (could) get that one back, maybe we run the ball there, but bottom line is that (shaking it off) is what a good player has got to do and that’s what he did.”
Bryant threw two interceptions in the season-opening 24-0 win over Warren, but this was his first time dealing with adversity in a tight game.
“We have a really young team so all of the seniors are really supportive of all of us,” Bryant said. “Coach just talked us and we had the confidence to come back.
“I learned a lot tonight. I didn’t play my best. I think our running back, Reggie (Terrell), did phenomenal tonight and our line was great.”
Indeed, Terrell, who scored on a three-yard run in the second quarter, busted loose for all but 21 of his 137 rushing yards after intermission. He carried 11 times for 55 yards on the game’s final drive as the Lions ran out the clock.