football had some thrilling highs and a few surprising lows as they beat 8-seed Morgan Park 56-30 in their first-round playoff matchup on Friday.
The Indians (10-0) were caught off guard on the Mustangs’ first play from scrimmage, which was an 84-yard flea flicker pass to receiver Javon Bright, giving Morgan Park a 6-0 lead 20 seconds into the game.
After a Lemont field goal, Mustangs QB Andre Newell scored on a 65-yard run on their second play of scrimmage to put them up 12-3 after missing the two-point conversion.
The Indians, facing an unthinkable first-round exit, rallied after a gusty fake punt on a fourth-and-long turned to a 23-yard pass to Jake Lemming. The Indians took the play as their sign and proceeded to systematically dismantle the Mustangs for the next quarter and a half, scoring 38 unanswered points.
“It was a good sign for our kids, the way they were able to come back from adversity like that,” Indians coach Eric Michaelsen said.
Running back Mike Anzalone was a major factor, scoring three first-half touchdowns for the Indians. He was their horse for the first half, carrying the ball 24 times and gaining 112 yards.
“We started figuring out their setup and our offensive line made better blocks and I just ran as hard as I could,” Anzalone said.
Morgan Park stumbled in the second quarter with three turnovers. Indians QB Damon Aleman turned two of them into points. He threw a 12-yard screen pass to Christos Giatras and a 22-yard jump ball pass to Tyler Jay in the second quarter.
The Indians tacked on a safety and another touchdown pass to Giatras in the third to give them what seemed like an insurmountable 50-12 lead after three quarters.
The Mustangs, to their credit, weren’t about to roll over. They forced three Lemont turnovers on fumbles, and returned two of them for touchdowns in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to make it a 50-30 game, catching the mostly-reserve team of Lemont players off guard.
“We didn’t finish the game well,” Michaelsen said.
The starters returned and chewed up a great deal of the game clock on the ensuing possession, leading to Giatras’ third touchdown of the night to put the game permanently out of reach.
The Indians travel to conference rival Oak Forest next week for their second-round match after the Bengals dismantled conference foe T.F. North in a 48-26 win. Time and date are to be determined.