York senior Joey Chiappetta's first varsity football touchdown nearly sparked a huge comeback Friday against undefeated Lyons Township.
With the Dukes trailing 23-0, they opened the second half of the West Suburban Silver opener with an 85-yard scoring drive. The 6-foot-1 Chiappetta beat LT safety J.J. Dutton in the air for quarterback David Leonard's pass just past midfield and completed a 76-yard TD play. Chiappetta also caught the 2-point conversion.
"David just told me he was going to throw it up to me on a go route," Chiappetta said. "I kind of just reached back and it just fell in my hands and I was running as hard as I could down the sidelines from there."
York reached the 6-yard line on its next drive but could not convert, and the Lions responded to pull away for a 33-8 victory in Elmhurst.
The near scoring drive for the Dukes (0-3) ended with another incomplete pass from the 6 on fourth-and-2 after starting at their 30 and having four double-digit gains.
"I thought our kids played really well," York coach Matt Monken said. "We easily could have (down 23-0) tucked it in and we didn't. We made it a ballgame. Unfortunately that score that we didn't get took the wind out of our sails. The (final) score didn't show how close it was."
The first half was basically all Lyons Twp. (3-0). Led by third-year starting quarterback and Cincinnati recruit Ben Bryant, the Lions opened the game with a 74-yard TD drive. Bryant had TD passes of 14 yards to junior Hareson Willis and 19 to senior Nate Rusk, who has 4 TD receptions.
Bryant already has 9 TD passes on the season. Bryce Moskiewicz had the team's first two rushing TDs of the season, and Rusk also kicked two field goals.
An Lyons Twp. defense that opened the season with only two returning starters on the line held York to 56 yards in the first half, 37 of them in the final 22 seconds on a drive that ended at the Lyons Twp. 23 as time expired.
"I thought we got better in Week 2. I thought we looked good in the first half of this one," Lyons Twp. coach Kurt Weinberg said. "Obviously, 3-0 is great, but we just want to keep getting better and shooting for the long haul."
York played without two key running backs because of ankle injuries, leading rusher Grant Melion and Joey Jaeger. The Dukes also were hampered again by penalties, 12 for 95 yards, 67 in the first half. Lyons Twp. had 10 accepted penalties.
Riding the passing success from the end of the first half, the Dukes gained 160 yards in the second half with Leonard passing for 105 of his 150 yards.
"We just started paying with confidence," Chiappetta said. "The first half, we were kind getting down on ourselves, arguing in the huddle. The second half we just started to say, 'Let's go out there and play hard and play with confidence, and we started getting chunks of gains."
York's first three opponents are a combined 6-2. And Glenbard West is next.
"We break the season into thirds, like baseball," Monken said. "We've got a new three coming up and our goal is at least to take two of those three. That gives us at least a chance to do something with those last three games."