Lyons Twp. hands Downers Grove North its second defeat of the season
Ever since losing in Week 4 at Glenbard West, Lyons Township coach Jon Beutjer has emphasized daily self-improvement to his team.
The Lions have heeded Beutjer's message and ran off three consecutive victories, the latest being a 17-7 West Suburban Conference Silver Division victory over Downers Grove North on Friday night at Bennett Field in Western Springs.
"Our guys are playing good, and we're just going to continue getting better," Beutjer said. "That's the goal each week."
Lyons (5-2, 4-1 WSC Silver) received two gifts in the first quarter. After a snap sailed over Downers Grove North punter Jimmy Janicki's head, the Lions had first down on the Trojans' 23. But they couldn't cash in as Ryan Jackson was intercepted by Owen Thulin at the DGN 14.
Two plays later, the Trojans fumbled, and LT lineman Tyler Chambers scooped up the ball and returned it to the Trojans' 3. The next play, Danny Carroll ran in for a 3-yard score that gave the Lions a 7-0 lead at the 5:27 mark of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Thulin blocked a 30-yard field-goal attempt by LT's Tommy Newcombe. The Trojans, starting from their 2, moved the ball to midfield, but on a fourth and 1, Janicki's knee touched the ground as he was fielding a low snap on a punt attempt.
The play gave LT possession at the DGN 35, and the Lions took advantage on the next play when Jackson hit Travis Stamm for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 1:48 left in the first half.
In the third quarter, LT used Carroll to keep the ball away from DGN. The junior came up big, rushing for 58 yards on 10 carries.
"That was our game plan, to run the ball," said Carroll, who had 137 yards on 34 carries for the evening, including 79 yards in the second half. "I love all my linemen, they just did their jobs right and we just pounded the rock."
With 6:43 left in the fourth quarter, Newcombe booted a 27-yard field goal to raise LT's lead to 17-0. Even so, Beutjer was concerned afterward about the missed opportunities to tack on more points and make things easier for the Lions.
"That bothers us," he said. "We'll take a look at the film and do our best to get better."
DGN (5-2, 3-2) moved the ball at times but was never able to sustain consistency, rushing for just 31 yards. The Trojans, playing without star running back Noah Battle for the second consecutive week, averted the shutout with 2:53 left when Owen Lansu connected with Thulin for a 25-yard touchdown.
"It's a team effort and we didn't execute well enough," said DGN coach Joe Horeni. "Defense did a great job, but we've got to start being able to execute on offense and find out what we can do to support them."
The return of Battle, out due to injury, would be a big boost to the Trojans' offense, and Horeni hopes for it to happen soon.
"Noah's an excellent player," he said. "We've got to get him healthy and push on."
With York losing 28-7 to Glenbard West, the chase for the WSC Silver title is wide open. LT meets the Dukes next weekend with an opportunity to put itself in position to gain a potential share of the crown.
"York's a good team. They've got some physical players," Beutjer said. "But we're not focused on the prize, we're focused on the process. We want to keep getting better, and we'll continue to send that message to the kids."