LTHS quarterback Ryan Jackson (9) hands the ball off to running back Jack Cheney during the Lions’ 27-14 loss to York on Sept. 24 in Western Springs. Jackson threw for 159 yards and scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. (Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer)

Senior defensive back James Georgelos received his first chance to also contribute at running back for the Lyons Township High School football team on Sept. 24.

“All offseason I was training and gearing to go both ways,” Georgelos said. “It definitely is a little bit tougher than playing one way, but I was ready to go.” 

Georgelos and the Lions only wanted just one more meaningful offensive possession.

They closed within one score twice in the second half only to see York respond and pull away for a 27-14 West Suburban Silver victory to spoil the Lions’ homecoming.

LTHS (4-1, 2-1) was hurt by 53, 43 and 44-yard pass plays by the Dukes (5-0, 3-0). The 44-yarder came after LTHS closed to 19-14 with 7:41 left and York faced third-and-19 on its 11. 

Instead of the Lions soon regaining the ball with a chance to take the lead, York was at the Lions’ 45-yard line and eventually scored with 2:19 to go.

“We had them pinned back there. They throw that post. We’ve got to make a play on that ball. But I’m glad that our kids battled. They continue to battle,” LTHS coach Jon Beutjer said. 

The Lions trailed 12-0 at halftime as York scored on its final two possessions of the first half with help from its first two huge pass plays. 

The Lions nearly scored first. 

“The second play, we dropped a touchdown. If we score there, it might be a different ball game,” Beutjer said. “I feel like in this game we kind of beat ourselves a little. I don’t want to take anything away from [York]. They won the game. But when we turn the film on, there’s a lot of things we didn’t do so well.”

The Lions did open the second half with an 80-yard touchdown drive. Quarterback Ryan Jackson scored on a 10-yard run.

The defense then got back-to-back three-and-outs, but York pinned the Lions deep and regained possession at the LTHS 35. Three plays later, Jake Melion scored his second of three touchdowns on a 23-yard run for a 19-7 lead.

The Lions again went 80 yards to score as Jackson completed six passes, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Travis Stamm. 

Then came York’s third touchdown.

“That’s what good teams do. We’ve got to do that for ourselves,” Georgelos said. “We’ve got to make sure after we score, we get a stop because whenever [York] got scored on, they score.” 

The Lions were limited to 220 yards of offense. Jackson was 15-for-22 for 159 yards with Graham Smith (4 catches, 53 yards) and Stamm (3 catches, 41 yards) the top receivers. Georgelos was the leading rusher with 12 carries for 33 yards.

Defensive leaders included Cooper King (9 tackles), Danny Pasko (6 tackles, 2 for loss), Stamm (5 tackles, 2 for loss), Eddie Tuerk and Georgelos (5 tackles each) and Quinn Farnan, Noah Pfafflin and Caleb Greer (4 tackles each).

The Lions can become IHSA playoff eligible with a victory Sept. 30 at Proviso West (2-3, 0-3), but they need help for any share of the WSC Silver title. Glenbard West (5-0, 2-0) visits York this week.

“I thought that we beat ourselves. There’s a lot of mental but also physical mistakes,” Georgelos said.

“Sometimes when you win, you may have mistakes that are brushed under the rug. Obviously when you lose, then those things are really magnified,” Beutjer said. “I believe that great teams continue to get better throughout the season and peak at the right time. That’ll be the message for our team.”