Chandler Binkley sweeps around the end for a gain during the fourth quarter of the 3A Quarterfinal game against Reed-Custer in Byron on Saturday, Nov. 13. Byron won the game 28-24. See more photos inside.

By Christopher Johnson

One of the closest and most nerve-wracking games of the season was just played this past week by the Byron Tigers, and it came at a time when nothing but that effort would have been good enough.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, round three of the Class 3A State Football Championship Tournament was held and in the end Byron was able to hold on and claim victory for the twelfth straight time this season, thanks to the 28-24 decision.

Reed-Custer was the runner-up in the Illinois Central Eight Football Conference this season and with their 6-1 mark finished one game behind Wilmington, which was 7-0. They earned the four-seed in the post-season because of their efforts.

The Comets were the most prolific scorer in the Illinois Central as they averaged over 40 points a game in conference matches, tipping the scales with a 66 point scoring advantage over the Wildcats, which claimed the conference crown.

Braidwood’s denial-clan was just as daunting this year and rivals Byron’s standing as one of the most talented defensive programs in the Class 3A world. They gave up 70 points in 10 games.

In the Saturday extravaganza Byron realized they weren’t going to be able to stop the Comets attack completely. The Tigers had to play conservatively and showcased patience as they  forged forth to a 7-6 first quarter edge.

The style of defense that Reed Custer put on display shut down Byron’s normal attack plan. The Tigers had to work hard for every yard.

As time wound down ahead of the first half break Byron had expanded its advantage from a single point to a 14-9 lead.

Some vital adjustments were made by Reed Custer after the turn and during the third quarter, they proved their set up for immediate success was more present than the one-seed’s was.

For Byron, the experience of trailing late materialized as Reed Custer put eight points on the board and kept the Tigers at bay, wresting the lead 17-14 at the end of the third period.

The fourth quarter relied on field position and non-missed advantages. Byron was strong in assuring they wouldn’t let anything stop them from getting control back.

The Tigers added 14 points to the final tally and kept the Comets away from the goal with a seven-point closer, winning the quarterfinal match 28-24, matching their closest victory margin of the season, four points.

A week four home game against Genoa-Kingston also ended in a four-point decision with the Tigers coming out on top 7-3.

Byron moved on to face Elmhurst IC Catholic in the Class 3A Semi-Final as they look to secure passage to DeKalb and the State Championship game next week.

At this point in the Class 3A Realm four teams remain standing in line for the right to claim the State Football Championship Title and those four teams carry a combined 45-1 record.

Only six-seed Elmhurst IC Catholic, which eliminated three-seed Durand-Pecatonica in round two, 35-12, has a loss on its record.

Byron is a perfect 12-0 and they share top distinction with formidable partners, Tolono Unity and Mt. Carmel.

Byron faces Immaculate Conception this weekend on the road in Elmhurst and will have to take down the Knights in the Class 3A State Semi-Final to earn the right to advance to the State Championship Game on Friday, Nov. 26, with kick-off scheduled for 4 p.m. at Huskie Stadium on the grounds of Northern Illinois University.

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