LTHS junior quarterback Ben Bryant

Talent has never been a question regarding highly touted Lyons Township junior quarterback Ben Bryant. His arm strength, accuracy and physical tools overall have drawn the interest of multiple Division I schools including Wisconsin and Iowa.

In the first round of the Class 8A playoffs against host Naperville North, Bryant showed off his intangibles like leadership and mental toughness to lift the Lions past the host Huskies 25-23 in an instant classic.

After Bryant fumbled at midfield with 2:48 left in the fourth quarter, Naperville North’s Cross Robinson scored on a 3-yard run a handful of plays later to give the Huskies a 23-22 lead with 54 seconds left.

On the Lions’ final possession, Bryant bounced back though by completing a 50-yard pass to Brandon Fischer on a third-and-17 at the LTHS 29. Four plays later, LTHS kicker Nathan Rusk kicked the game-winning field goal from 34 yards to make the score 25-23.

“Everyone just really supported me,” Bryant said after his late-game fumble. “When I went to the sideline everyone just came up to me and told me to keep my head up because we’ll get the ball back.

“It was a little frustrating but we just had to move on from that (turnover) and make a play which we did. They play cover-2 so (Fischer) ran a post down the middle of the field and I was looking for him right away.”

Bryant completed 16 of 28 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 55 yards. With primary running back Reggie Terrell completely held in check (7 carries, 9 yards), Fischer joined Bryant as a key playmaker with four catches for 118 yards. Derek Johnson added two clutch TD catches and Rusk chipped in four receptions for 32 yards.

Led by Robinson (19 carries, 105 yards), Naperville North led 14-0 late in the second quarter courtesy of two touchdown runs from him. The Lions outscored the Huskies 25-9 the rest of the way to pull off the hard-fought victory.

LTHS (8-2) hosts Palatine (10-0) on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at Bennett Field in the second round of the 8A playoffs.