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Football: Strong Second Half Fuels Hinsdale Central Over Lyons Township

The Red Devils are 4-1 after overcoming a 287-yard passing performance by a sophomore Lions quarterback making his first varsity start.

A balanced offense and solid second-half defense helped Hinsdale Central overcome an early deficit and claim a 24-20 win over West Suburban Silver rival Lyons Township in La Grange Friday night. 

Senior Red Devils quarterback Brian Owens completed 14 of 23 passes in the win for 224 yards, finishing with two touchdowns and one interception, while senior running back Jack Adams tallied a hard-earned 106 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.

The Hinsdale Central defense held LT to three second-half points, allowing the Red Devils (4-1) to turn around a game they trailed 17-14 at halftime.

Senior receiver John Claussen, who caught three passes for 50 yards and one touchdown, said it felt nice to bounce back one week after they were the team giving up a halftime lead in a tough loss to Glenbard West.

"We learned from last week that every game is a four-quarter battle," Claussen said. 

The Lions (2-3) jumped out to a 10-0 lead early, but gave up two second-quarter Hinsdale Central touchdowns to fall behind 14-10. LT regained the lead in dramatic fashion with 47 seconds left before halftime, when sophomore quarterback Tommy Fiedler hit senior receiver Jemari Burks for a 79-yard touchdown pass.

"I just put it up there and let him go make a play," Fiedler said. 

Fiedler, who made his first career start in place of injured senior starter Zach Mahoney, had 209 yards and two touchdowns on 6-of-13 passing in the first half. 

"Tommy's a great player; we expect great things from him," LT head coach Kurt Weinberg said.

The sophomore's first-half numbers led Hinsdale Central head coach Rich Tarka to change course offensively.

"We tried to keep them off the field," Tarka said of the Lions offense.

After the Red Devils relied on the passing game in the first half, it was Adams who carried the load after the break, tallying 72 yards on 16 touches in the second half.

Owens completed a four-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Ricky Beuke early in the third quarter to make it 21-17.

After the two teams exchanged fourth quarter field goals, LT got the ball down four points with 4:26 remaining, but couldn't get across midfield. Senior Red Devils linebacker Andrew Pyle knocked loose what would have been a first-down completion on 4th-and-6 to turn the Lions over on downs. 

Weinberg said the tight loss hurt.

"We had five or six plays that we didn't make that would have won us the game," he said. 

Fiedler finished the game with 287 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-26 passing. 

Next up for Hinsdale Central is their Homecoming game against Hinsdale South on Saturday, Sept. 29. LT is at Oak Park River Forest on Sept. 28.

Hinsdale Central lost 6-foot-6 junior receiver Ian Bunting to a likely ankle sprain on the first drive of the game, and have other players who are nicked up, so an extra-long week might be just what the doctor ordered.

"We're a little banged up," Tarka said. "The extra day is definitely going to help us."

Weinberg said he expects starting quarterback Mahoney to return from injury next week and start against OPRF.

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