Lyons Twp. needed something special to rally in the final minute at Naperville North.
Special wound up coming in bunches.
With a gusty wind at his back, Nathan Rusk's 34-yard field-goal attempt with 16 seconds left was tipped at the line of scrimmage but had just enough to make it through the uprights to lift the No. 19 Lions to a 25-23 victory over No. 14 Naperville North in Friday's Class 8A first-round football matchup.
Getting to that point wasn't easy.
Naperville North's Cross Robinson, after a 33-yard pass from Luke Cegles to Mitch Lewis, scored on a 3-yard run to convert a Lions fumble and put the Huskies (8-2) briefly ahead at 23-22 following Matt Malan's extra point with 54 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession -- facing third-and-17 at the Lions' 29 following an intentional grounding penalty -- Lyons Twp. quarterback Ben Bryant found Brandon Fischer for a stunning 50-yard pass to Naperville North's 21-yard line. Four plays later, Rusk booted the game-winning kick.
Lyons Twp. (8-2) advances to face Saturday's winner between No. 30 Notre Dame (6-3) and No. 3 Palatine (9-0).
"I don't think I've ever been more nervous in my life," Rusk said. "You dream about that, going out and kicking a game-winning field goal. The snap was good, the line blocked. It did get tipped but it found its way through."
Robinson scored twice in the first half as the Huskies broke out to a 14-0 lead. Robinson and Eric Wright combined for 219 rushing yards on the night, including 141 in the first half.
Bryant, who completed 16 of 29 passes for 216 yards, threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Derek Johnson before halftime, and then Bryant ran for a 4-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to tie the game at 14 apiece.
The Huskies claimed a 16-14 lead late in the third quarter when they blocked a punt that bounced through the end zone for a safety. Bryant threw another touchdown pass to Johnson, a 25-yarder, to put the Lions ahead for the first time at 22-16 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"Two great teams fighting it out, and it's a shame someone had to lose," said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. "It's unfortunate. We've got to keep getting better. We had a great season, but we've got to keep getting better for next year. Proud of our kids. Really proud of them."
Senior-heavy Naperville North ends its season after winning a share of the DuPage Valley Conference title for the first time since 2008. Lyons Twp. moves on to the second round for the first time since its Class 8A quarterfinal appearance in 2012.
"This is really big for us," Bryant said. "I don't think anyone had us winning this game. I think we proved a lot of people wrong."
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