LEMONT – It was a win Lemont’s football team needed to have, and it came in memorable fashion.
Running back Julio Aleman ran 11 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:36 left to play as the Indians scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to win 24-17 over visiting Tinley Park on Sept. 27.
The Indians improved to 2-3 and will take on Hillcrest tonight in their final scheduled home game of the season.
Key special teams plays helped set up two of the scores, including a wild stretch in the third quarter when Lemont recovered its own kickoffs twice in a row.
“We’ve been struggling with special teams, and the kids came out in the second half and executed some different things and I’m very proud of them,” head coach Eric Michaelsen said.
The Indians trailed Tinley Park 17-3 at the half. The lone field goal came when a bad punt snap by the Titans resulted in the Indians getting the ball at Tinley Park’s 10-yard line.
Lemont struggled to move the ball much of the first half and the Titans scored three times, including a touchdown pass to end the half. But the second half was a different story.
The Indians marched down the field to start the third quarter and scored on a 16-yard Aleman run.
Because of a personal foul called on Tinley Park for running into the kicker on the extra point, Lemont kicked off from the Tinley Park 45-yard line. The Indians opted for the onside kick, and Jamie Glista recovered it at the Tinley Park 30-yard line.
Two plays later, quarterback Chris Thompson threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Kepouros to tie the game at 17-17.
The Indians’ ensuing kickoff appeared to be heading out of bounds, and as the Titans backed off Kepouros hustled down the field to recover the kick and give the ball back to the Indians’ offense at the Tinley Park 18-yard line. The drive ended with a turnover, but Lemont still had the momentum, and special teams again played a role in setting up the winning touchdown drive.
With the Indians’ defense forcing the Titans to punt following the turnover, Kepouros returned the punt down to the Tinley Park 35-yard line to set up Aleman’s winning score.
Following the wild, come-from-behind win on homecoming, Michaelsen could not explain the reason for the difference in his team’s first- and second-half performances.
“If I knew that,” he said, “we would do it in the first half.”