Lyons Twp. defense stifles Wheaton Warrenville South offense
Lyons Township senior wide receiver and co-captain Jack McQueeney was excited this preseason to learn he'd also be starting at safety.
At practice Tuesday, McQueeney found out he was adding a third position -- running back.
"It was kind of a last-second plan. Our running back was out and I had to fill in," McQueeney said. "A great opportunity to get some handoffs. And the team played great tonight."
McQueeney scored both touchdowns Friday, including one rushing, and contributed to a great defensive effort that lifted the Lions to a 13-0 victory over visiting Wheaton Warrenville South.
McQueeney had a 24-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Ryan Jackson 57.4 seconds before halftime and an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:38 left in the third quarter right after the Lions (1-1) thwarted a WW South drive that reached the 12-yard line.
McQueeney rushed for 99 yards on 13 second-half carries after one no-gain before halftime.
"We just kept building up on the momentum," McQueeney said. "After that [touchdown], it just felt like we couldn't be stopped in the run game right after halftime."
LT coach Jon Beutjer, a former star quarterback for the Tigers, called the victory "a must win," for the 2022 Class 8A quarterfinalists.
"Hats off to our defense. We gave up some plays. They had some nice third-down conversions, but our guys just hanging tough and believing and playing for each other," Beutjer said.
"Any time you can get a shutout against Wheaton South, or any team, we're happy about that. I'm just proud that our guys just kept battling and not giving up."
LT's defense had Illinois recruit Eddie Tuerk, Colgate recruit Noah Pfafflin, Kellen Knop, Roman Sosnovyy and Ian Gamino combine for five sacks.
WW South (1-1) had just 65 yards of offense in the first half but went 27 yards on the opening drive of the second half. The next drive had a 46-yard strike from quarterback Luca Carbonaro to Joey Preede on the next drive to reach the LT 13.
After gaining another yard, the Tigers had a holding penalty trying to halt the Lions' pass rush but followed with a 9-yard pass to the 13. After Pfafflin's sack put the ball back to the 22, Maison Haas' 29-yard field-goal attempt was wide right.
The Lions then marched 80 yards to score again between McQueeney's rushing and two passes for 31 yards to Caleb Greer, who had 104 of Jackson's 155 passing yards.
"A tale of a few plays there that we don't convert and then the swing of momentum with a long drive coming back was probably a key point in the game," said WW South coach Sean Norris.
"We're playing some young kids that are learning. We have some guys that need to learn to be in the moment and make those plays when they need to in varsity football."
The Tigers' defense again played well, holding LT to 128 yards in the first half, but 52 came on Jackson's last two completions.
Jackson found Greer for a 28-yard completion to the 39, followed by a pass interference penalty trying to connect with Pfafflin.
Now at the 24, Jackson rolled right, scrambled back across the field and found a wide-open McQueeney at the 13. McQueeney then beat the oncoming defensive back to the end zone.
"Ryan's insane. Just an awesome play by Ryan. I hardly had to do any work," McQueeney said.
Carbonaro passed for 154 yards, 114 in the second half. Sophomore Owen Yorke rushed for 70 yards starting in place of both injured Matt Crider and Max Schlegal.