Lyons, QB Tom Fiedler still have faith in their offense

At this time a year ago, Bryan McNulty was a member of the football coaching staff at Lake Forest College.

Friday night, the players on this year’s Lake Forest College football showed up at Warren in Gurnee en masse to cheer McNulty’s debut as a high school head coach as he led the Warren Blue Devils in their season opener against Lyons.

No doubt that when it was over, the college players gave their former assistant coach a collective thumb’s up and voiced their approval as Warren knocked off the Lions 17-14 in a well-played contest between two teams likely to be playing playoff football in November.

The visitors led 14-10 at halftime, but the game turned Warren’s way midway through the third quarter when a fumbled punt was recovered by Warren’s Nick Turner at the Lyons 13.

Two plays later, Devils senior quarterback Jay Nickell (10-of-20, 104 yards, 2 interceptions, TD) threw a seven-yard TD pass to Illinois-bound tight end Caleb Reams to give the home team the lead for good at 17-14.

After that, Lyons had two chances to win or tie. But the first drive ended when Lyons quarterback Tom Fiedler (11-of-24, 164 yards, 2 interceptions) couldn’t handle the center snap and fumbled the ball away.

Then, in the final seconds, Fiedler completed a 31-yard pass to Leonard Ross (19 rushes, 129 yards) that got the ball to the Warren 27 with 1:20 left. But with 14 seconds left, Warren’s Jose Carrasco intercepted a pass at the 1-yard line to secure the home-team win.

In the end, it was Warren’s defense that made the big plays to win the game.

But that said, the game ball had to go to junior running back Darrius Crump. The junior attended Carmel for his first two years of high school and he carried 28 times on Friday for 244 yards and the game’s first touchdown.

“The cat is out of the bag with Darrius,” said McNulty. “He is a very special player.”

The first half would have been a highlight-reel film for Crump, except that it ended with Lyons ahead 14-10.

Crump gave Warren an early 7-0 lead with a 60-yard TD run just 2:05 into the game.

Lyons answered later in the quarter with a 94-yard TD drive that Ross capped with a one-yard TD run to make it 7-7.

Warren’s Brandon Hergenreder kicked a 31-yard field goal, but Lyons scored with 5:49 left in the half on a 12-yard run by Fiedler. The four-play, 43-yard drive was set up by Lyons’ defense which pinned Warren deep in its own end.

For the game, Warren had 381 total yards and Lyons 366.

“We got yards, but just not scoring tonight,” said losing coach Kurt Weinberg. “A couple of turnovers cost us.”

Despite the two interceptions, Fielder still has Weinberg’s confidence.

“Tom Fiedler is one of the better quarterbacks in the state,” Weinberg said.

Fiedler, who threw for 18 touchdowns and more than 1,800 yards last season, sees much to be learned from Friday’s loss.

“We had lots of chances in the second half,” Fiedler said, “The challenge is bouncing back. It felt a little like we lost the game to ourselves.”

Weinberg is looking for stronger, quicker starts this season, and the team hopes to avoid going 0-2 start like last year. Coaches and players alike said one key to success will be to take advantage of their speed and agility.

“We can beat anybody at our best,” Ross said.

— P.J. Bonato also contributed

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