Early turnover helps Buffalo Grove drop Leyden

NORTHLAKE — A few inches made a huge difference for Buffalo Grove defensive back Evan Frank and his teammates Friday night when the Bison opened the football season with a 20-7 win over Leyden.

On its first possession, Leyden attempted a screen that was ruled a lateral pass after bouncing off an Eagles receiver. That enabled Frank to pounce on the ball and give Buffalo Grove its first takeaway of the season.

If the ball had been deemed a forward pass, it would have just been an incompletion, allowing Leyden to keep possession of the ball. Buffalo Grove (1-0) converted the miscue into a score and never looked back.

Frank, a junior, was smart enough to chase the ball because the whistle did not blow the play dead.

“Right when I saw that pass, we know to always run to the ball,” Frank explained. “Luckily it was a backwards pass, and I was able to get it and get the ball for us. [The Bison are taught] always rally to the ball. No matter what, always be there. You never know what will happen.

“It definitely changed the game, our offense was ready to go. It was just a big game-changer for us.”

The timing of the turnover seemed to have a lasting effect on the Eagles, who only managed to cross midfield one time in the first half.

“Especially when you start a season like that, that is a big momentum deal,” Buffalo Grove coach Mike DiMatteo said. “We thought, like we think every game, that we can get a big turnover, and we did.

“We teach turnovers all the time and turnovers can completely change the momentum of the game, like it did in the first half for us.”

The Bison defense maintained its intensity throughout the first half, limiting Leyden to minus-9 rushing yards before the break while building a 14-0 lead.

Leyden (0-1) took a long time to recover from the game’s first drive. The Eagles were stopped in the red zone on consecutive third-quarter drives.

“It is so important, because every time you get a turnover, you always try to score, so that is how the tone is set,” said Bison senior John Maddox, who scored on touchdown runs of 25 and 8 yards. “We were amped to begin with, and then we just got so much more pumped. We just slammed it down their throats.”

Notes

  • Despite not gaining positive rushing yards in the first half, Leyden responded in the third quarter. On its opening drive of the second half, the Eagles managed to gain 44 yards on six carries, including a 25-yard run by Daniel Lopez.
  • Leyden quarterback Tom Pajor threw for 187 yards, including nine straight second-half completions.
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