ELMHURST, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–Few people thought the Byron Tigers could top their dramatic State Quarterfinal playoff comeback from last week against Reed-Custer, but only seven days later they did exactly that in the State Semifinals.
Saturday evening the Tigers rallied from a 14-0 deficit with with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a two-point conversion to top Elmhurst IC Catholic 15-14.
The Tigers got their first touchdown with 3:40 remaining in the game when quarterback Braden Smith rolled to his right and threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Max Connell deep in the end zone. The extra point kick made it 14-7 IC Catholic.
Byron then attempted an onside kick and it worked. The Tigers recovered the ball on the 49 yard-line. They took their time working the ball downfield. Smith completed a pass to Ethan Palzkill. Chandler Binkley had a nice run up the middle. Palzkill added another strong run to move the chains. Smith then completed a key pass to his other tight end Isiah Gooden inside the five yard-line with :12 to play.
Smith tried two more passes that fell incomplete. The Tigers were faced with fourth down and two from the IC Catholic three-yard line. This time they gave the ball to their All-State running back Binkley and he scored up the middle on a three-yard run. That made it 14-13.
Byron head coach Jeff Boyer didn’t hesitate. He decided to go for two points and the win. Again the Tigers gave the ball to Binkely. He was hit just before the goal line, but he kept pushing and just made it over for the go-ahead and winning score with five seconds on the clock.
After the following Byron kickoff, IC Catholic had just enough time to run one more play…a pass to receiver Deontae Oatman who was tackled near midfield. Time expired. Byron had a 15-14 win. For the third straight year the Tigers are headed to the 3A State Championship game.
They’ll play Tolono Unity in DeKalb next Friday at 4 p.m.