By Chris Johnson


An impressive win by the Byron Tigers on Friday night, Sept. 2, over the Rockford Lutheran Crusaders, 35-22, moved them into the top spot in the Big Northern Conference

However, the Tigers don’t stand alone as they help lead the pack of eleven. With the conference adjustment this season, ten teams have set their goal on knocking down the front runners. None have yet, though others have also expressed their interest in leading the group.

In Friday matches, Genoa-Kingston and Dixon won their matches, helping them keep pace with the State-ranked Tigers, with all carrying 2-0 marks.

Byron struck first in their game, as they received the opening kick-off, moving it across the 30, before senior Trevor Koritz found a gap and ran away from defenders as he carried the ball 64 yards for the touchdown strike, with just a minute-and-a-half elapsed in the period. The extra point kick was good as Byron took the early lead.

On the very next play, Rockford Lutheran responded. Taking the kick at the 20-yard line, senior Naeem Pruitt broke through the line and carried it 80 yards downfield. The extra point kick attempt was good. With 10:19 to go in the opening period, each team was on the board, with the game tied at seven.

Another big play waited for Byron as they moved the ball away from their own end zone, pushing it out to just shy of their own 35-yard line. One play later, Bryce Scheffler broke a tackle and then another as he ran for the score from 64 yards away. The extra point gave Byron the 14-7 lead with 6:18 to go in the opening period.

Lutheran responded again, this time through the air as kicker Jon Anderson found his mark from 26-yards out, knocking the field goal attempt through with 2:34 to go in the frame. Byron’s lead was down to four, 14-10.

One play later, as Byron began their drive ten yards shy of midfield, Koritz got the block he needed, allowing him to kick outside and find nothing but empty field in front of him. The 60-yard touchdown run allowed the Tigers lead to stretch to eleven, 21-10. Over two minutes remained in the opening period.

A lull in action greeted both teams as play began in the second quarter. The pause ceased at the 5:29 mark in the period, as Scheffler collected a pass from quarterback Brandon Elsbury and scored, carrying the ball 65 yards for the touchdown. Byron’s extra point pushed the second quarter edge to 28-10.

The Tigers defense clamped dow as time wound down in the second. The offense, however, ramped up as Nolan Bielskis kept the scoring going. With under 30 seconds to go in the second quarter, the junior patiently followed his blocker and broke through the line and into the end zone, scoring from three yards out. The extra point attempt gave Byron the 35-10 lead at the half.

Defense played key in the third quarter for both squads as scoring would not occur.

Into the fourth, however, the Crusaders began to mount their comeback attempt. The Tigers defense was kept off balance.

At the 11:50 mark in the fourth, quarterback Payton Womack put his team on his back and carried the ball into the end zone for the touchdown strike. In an attempt to go for two points after score, Womack came up short. His 23-yard run, however, cut the Byron lead to 35-16.

After a series of exchanges, followed by a kick away, Rockford Lutheran got the ball back in their own territory. After putting together a plan of attack, Pruitt scored again, as he broke away from defenders and carried the ball 45-yards for the touchdown. The Crusaders went for two and failed, as the Tigers’ lead, though threatened, remained at 13 points, 35-22.

Neither team would score again, following the Crusader tally at the 6:30 mark in the fourth.

Byron held on for the conference win and moved to the top of the pack where they share the conference lead with a 2-0 mark.

This Friday night, the Tigers are busy again as they have another major challenge in front of them in the form of the Stillman Valley Cardinals.

The Cardinals are 1-1 on the season and are coming off a 30-20 loss to the Winnebago Indians. Kick-off this Friday night is scheduled for around 7:30 p.m.

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