Football rebounds from first loss of season, defeats Westinghouse 28-24

Strong second half brings Lane win to close out conference play


Alex Burstein

Lane’s Finn Merrill rushes in a second half touchdown against Westinghouse

By Alex Burstein, Editor-In-Chief

For most of the regular season, Lane has been a first half team.

As Lane worked up a 6-0 record to start the season, there was one common factor — they built a lead during the first two quarters of play. In week seven, when Lane trailed Phillips heading into the second half, the Champions suffered their first loss of the season.

So, when Lane entered their halftime huddle trailing on, for the second straight week, this time down 18-14 to the Westinghouse Warriors, Lane’s coaching staff knew something had to change — starting with the team’s energy.

[Our] coaches gave us a discussion,” sophomore Alex Lagges said. “Told us [about] everybody’s energy, including the sidelines, and every player on the team stepped it up and started supporting us, and that really made us all believe in ourselves.”

Following the halftime break, Lane had more support from players on the sideline, and Lane’s play on the field changed for the better. A go-ahead touchdown by Lagges in the fourth quarter followed by a fumble recovery by senior Charlie Duncan sealed a 28-24 victory for Lane (7-1, 4-1 Chicago Public Red-North) over the Westinghouse Warriors (4-4, 2-3) to close out conference play at Westinghouse’s home field on Saturday, Oct. 15.

“Second half, we were very disciplined,” Lane Head Coach Dedrick Dewalt said. “We were able to move the ball offensively. We made some adjustments on defense. Our defense played a lot better in the second half.”

While Lane’s play improved in the second half, the first 24 minutes of play weren’t all negative.

Lane’s defense held strong on the first drive, holding the Warriors to a three-and-out. After a bad punt, Lane started their first drive of the day from the Westinghouse 33 yard line. Seven plays later, sophomore Spiro Memmos ran in a touchdown to give Lane a 7-0 lead six minutes into the game. Memmos, a transfer from Von Steuben, was playing in his first game since week four due to transfer eligibility questions.

“He was able to move the ball, move the chains,” Dewalt said of Memmos, who finished the game with 41 yards on 13 carries. “He’s hard to bring down. … So he’s very important for us”

The early momentum for Lane died down quickly. Junior Westinghouse quarterback Askia Bullie (16-for-21, 215 passing yards) put on a show, throwing five straight completions before running back Tyler Randall (86 yards from scrimmage) ran in a 24-yard touchdown for the Warriors. A missed extra point closed out the touchdown drive in just 110 seconds.

Dueling momentums continued for most of the first half. Lane opened up scoring in the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Mark Seward, giving Lane a 14-6 lead.

But the Warriors responded once again, this time with two touchdowns — a three-yard rushing touchdown by Bullie (32 yards rushing) and a six-yard touchdown reception by Dewayne Brooks (three receptions for 11 yards) with just 75 seconds left in the half.

While the Warriors had the clear offensive advantage in the first half, special team struggles kept Lane in the game. Following three first half touchdowns, Westinghouse missed one extra point attempt and two 2-point conversions, leaving five possible points off the scoreboard.

Those five points would end up making the difference, as Lane senior kicker Mugdim Kreho converted every extra point they attempted.

Back and forth play continued in the second half. Lane scored first on a thirteen-yard rush by senior Finn Merrill (20 carries for 125 yards) to go up 21-18, but Westinghouse responded with a 35-yard touchdown reception by Matthew Sims, Jr. (two receptions for 35 yards), which put them up 24-21 with ten minutes to go in the third.

The last ten minutes would go all in Lane’s favor.

It started with Lagges’ touchdown, a 17-yard rush to the outside that would give Lane a 28-24 lead with 7:06 left in the game.

“I havent scored a touchdown all season,” said Lagges, who finished with 77 yards on 13 carries. “So the linemen, they just created a huge gap so I just ran through and saw the endzone. I was just running as hard as I can. I just wanted to score.”

Lagges, who jumped into a bigger role this week due to an injury to senior Casey Joyce, ended up scoring the final touchdown of the game.

Less than a minute later, junior cornerback TJ Harper forced a fumble on a huge hit on Randall. Duncan recovered the fumble, sealing the win for Lane.

Lane now moves on to their toughest task yet — a matchup with Simeon, Dewalt’s alma mater, who is currently ranked #5 in the area by the Chicago Sun-Times. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Gately Stadium.

“I just want to see that these kids can go out there and compete,” Dewalt said. “I just want to see that kids here at Lane Tech can believe and go out there and compete, win, lose or draw, go out there and compete.”