DOWNERS GROVE – With its back against the wall, the Lyons Township's defense played its best game of the season on Friday.
Needing to beat Downers Grove North to seemingly keep their playoff hopes alive, the Lions' defense – which had surrendered a combined 179 points in the first four games of the season – forced two first-half turnovers and came up with multiple fourth down stops en route to a 17-10 victory.
Entering the contest allowing an average of 40.5 points per game, Lyons (2-3, 1-1 West Suburban Silver) pitched a shutout through three quarters, and head coach Kurt Weinberg applauded his team's most complete effort of the season.
"Until this point, we hadn't played to our full potential," Weinberg said. "Tonight, our defense stepped up and played really well. They were physical and came out of with a lot of confidence; it was a big step in the right direction."
The two first-quarter turnovers – an interception and a fumble recovery – paved the way for the Lions' offense.
After going three-and-out on their first two offensive possessions, Lions quarterback Tom Fiedler and the receiving corps caught fire. Fiedler completed 15-of-19 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He finished the game with 221 passing yards and two scores.
"Tommy had a great game," Weinberg said. "He has tremendous upside and tonight he managed the offense well and looked comfortable in the pocket."
Fielder said the offense had to get on track after a disappointing showing the week before.
"After the game against Glenbard West, the offense was looking for a bouceback performance," Fiedler said. "I just tried to relax, stay in the pocket as long as I could and make the plays that I know I am capable of making."
To their credit, the Trojans' secondary did not give up the deep strike in the first half. Fiedler was content with getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers, connecting on out-routes, slants and check-downs and gobbling up small chunks of yards.
When the big play opened up in the second half, Fiedler and the Lions' offense pounced on the opportunity.
With the score 10-3 in the fourth quarter, Lyons faced a crucial third down near midfield. Scrambling out of the pocket, Fiedler looked off his first option then found receiver Marcell Kellum streaking down the left sideline for a 47-yard score.
Kellum played one of the best games of his career, hauling in 9 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown.
Next, Lyons will face Hinsdale Central on Saturday, and Fiedler believes the key to success is hard work and continued improvement.
"On offense, we need to work on starting games a little better," Fiedler said. "But we have been getting better as the weeks progress and we need to keep that up."
Lyons Township 17, Downers Grove North 10
Passing: Tom Fiedler 19-26, 221 yards, 2 TDs
Receiving: Marcell Kellum 9-152, TD
Week 6: Lyons Township at Hinsdale Central
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: 5500 S. Grant St., Hinsdale
Records: Lyons Township 2-3 (1-1 WSS), Hinsdale Central 3-2 (2-1 WSS)
Outlook: The Lions picked up a crucial win over Downers Grove North last week, but have another big game this week at rival Hinsdale Central. Like the Trojans, the Red Devils feature a run-heavy offense thanks to injuries at quarterback and didn't complete any passes in Saturday's loss at Glenbard West.