Leyden was hoping to finish its West Suburban Gold football season on a high note at Proviso East on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles were coming off an emotional loss to Willowbrook the previous Friday, and the mood seemed to carry over into the first half of Saturday's contest.
But, sparked by senior running back Aaron Whigham and some timely passing by quarterback Tom Pajor, the Eagles fought back with a strong second half to whip the Pirates 36-12.
Leyden finished 3-6 and 3-3 in the conference while Proviso East lost its 18th straight game and finished 0-9 and 0-6.
Kevin Vargas gave Leyden a 3-0 lead with a 31-yard field goal with 8:48 left in the second quarter.
Proviso went up 6-3 on a Lawrence Griffin-to-Jimmy Walker pass for 18 yards with :37 left in the first half.
An interception by the Pirates' Jeremiah Kemp at the Eagles 18 set up Griffin's 11-yard touchdown pass to Taiwan Greenwood and a 12-3 lead.
That was enough to get the Eagles' feathers ruffled.
"We were flat in the first half," said Leyden coach Tom Cerasani. "We addressed that at halftime. We challenged the seniors. We said 'Do you want to finish your careers playing like that?' They responded."
Whigham (31 carries, 227 yards, 1 TD) and the offensive line began to assert themselves. Gunnar Schiferi, Miguel Quintero, Anthony Lonigto, Will Napier, Junior Watt and Alex Rose started to open the holes.
"We made some adjustments on the offensive line," said Cerasani. "Aaron is a great downhill runner. We were trying to get around their defense in the first half. In the second half we went straight at them, and then that opened up the outside for us."
Leyden drove 65 yards in 8 plays to score on Pajor's 253 yard pass to Dan Cuevas pulling the Eagles to 12-10.
A 37-yard pass from Pajor (9-for-17, 123 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int) to John Robles put Leyden ahead for good at 16-12 with 2:06 left in the third quarter.
Whigham carried 5 times for 50 yards and scored on a 2-yard run with 9:02 left in the game on the next possession and a 23-12 lead.
Robles took another TD pass from Pajor for 19 yards, and Kevin Vargas capped off the scoring on a 12-yard run as time expired.
"In the second half we played like we should have played all year," said Cerasani.