Leyden’s defensive unit flexed its muscles enough to spoil Hinsdale South’s homecoming, as well as hand the Hornets their first loss of the season.
The Eagles (4-1, 3-0) pulled out a 17-14 victory Friday night in Darien.
Leyden forced 6 turnovers with the help of senior linebacker Ivan Nevarrez and senior lineman Bill Kralis.
Nevarrez notched back-to-back late-game sacks and returned a 53-yard fumble for a touchdown while Kralis tallied 2 sacks as well.
Leyden junior cornerback and tailback Aaron Whigham also had an interception.
“I was shocked because the ball just came into my hands; it was like a handoff,” Nevarrez said of the return. “This shoots our confidence up. We knew they were 4-0, but it didn’t matter to us.”
The Eagles were the first to score as Leyden senior quarterback Mike Smith connected with running back Mickey Gulo (16 carries, 86 yards) on a strong-side screen for 51-yards to take an early 7-0 lead.
The lead remained stagnant for the rest of the half.
“That was an organized screen done perfectly,” Gulo said. “That’s the way it should be done. Little by little we get it done. The first half I could get a lot going. The second half maybe I wasn’t shooting a lot of holes or we were missing blocks, but we were motivated from the start.”
When Leyden went on the defensive, it was extremely stingy.
On seven passing attempts by Hinsdale South’s quarterback, the Hornets completed 1 of 5 pass and had two sacks, an interception and zero net yards gained.
Hinsdale South (4-1, 3-1) was finally able to break away for a score midway through the third quarter.
On a broken pass play, Hornets senior quarterback Dean Deolitsis scampered for a 74-yard touchdown on a scramble for 7-7 tie.
After a strong offensive first half, Leyden experienced difficulties in the second half moving the ball due to the effort of Hinsdale South junior lineman Antanas Riskus (2 sacks) and senior lineman Matthew Dangles (2 key hurries and 1 sack).
“Tonight we beat ourselves,” said Hinsdale South coach Mike Barry. “Leyden is a (heck) of a team. We had critical penalties and turned the ball over too much. This was just a great high school football game, but we couldn’t come out with the win. This loss is a wake-up call for us to let us know we’re not as good as we think we are. I think this is a bump, but our goals are still attainable.”
Leyden took advantage of one more scoring opportunity as junior Billy Schuster registered a 39-yard field goal.
Hinsdale South was able to put together a three-play touchdown drive with four-minutes remaining to make a 17-14 game, but Leyden hung on.
Hornet standouts were junior running back Arian Toney (18 carries, 91 yards) and Deolitisis (6-for-15 passing for 69 yards and 105 yards on 6 carries).
“The ‘D’ has been outstanding all year making big plays,” said Leyden coach Tom Cerasani. “I was telling (my team), with our record, if you are really this good, prove it. Both teams played defense exceptionally well. We are a running team and we like to control the clock.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.