Luke Skokna, short-handed Hinsdale C. win thriller over Lyons

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HINSDALE – Hinsdale Central running back Luke Skokna had to carry a heavier load than he anticipated Friday night, but he was ready.

The Red Devils already were without injured quarterback Matt Rush and starting center Joe Monahan, who was felled by pregame dizziness. Then star rusher Garrett Oakey injured his left ankle on the opening series.

But Skokna responded with the most important performance of his career. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior carried 34 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns to lift Hinsdale Central to a thrilling 21-20 victory West Suburban Conference Silver Division victory over rival Lyons Township.

The win clinched a playoff berth for the Red Devils (6-2, 5-1), who rushed 49 times for 233 yards.

“It was hard enough not having our quarterback, then Garrett went down,” Skokna said. “The playbook was really 50-50; we were going to split reps.

“Once he went down, I kind of just knew I was going to have to do what I do to get tthe ‘W.’

Skokna was workmanlike. Only two of his carries went for more than nine yards, with the longest covering 18 yards.

Skokna scored on runs of 5 yards and 1 yard in the first half as the Red Devils took a 13-0 lead.

The visiting Lions (6-2, 3-2) roared back to take a 14-13 lead on Tyrone Smith’s 14-yard touchdown run with 1:02 left in the third quarter, but lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter.

Caleb Lagestee recovered the second fumble at the Lyons 17. Two plays later, Skokna scored from 13 yards out, then tossed a two-point conversion pass to Matt Bjorson to make it 21-14 with 4:53 remaining.

“I think that’s the first time I’ve thrown a pass in my high school career,” Skokna said. “That play was drawn up for Oakey, too. I had never ran that play.”

Skokna ran more than he’s ever had – and he gave credit to his lineman, especially backup center Ayden Head, a junior who made his first start.

“There were a lot of carries, more than usual, but I was used to it from last year,” Skokna said. “They were feeding me the rock and Coach (Dan Hartman) just trusted me to the get the ‘W.’”

Bjorson, an Indiana-bound tight end, made a rare appearance in the backfield, carrying six times for 28 yards. He also caught a 32-yard pass and recovered a fumble.

“We’re trying to figure out a way to get a bunch of different guys the ball in as many different ways as possible,” Hartman said. “We were able to do that tonight.

“Luke carried most of the load. There wasn’t a whole lot of deception there.”

Lyons still had a chance to win at the end when Bryce Moskiewicz scored on a two-yard run with 1:18 left. But Ben Bryant’s conversion pass was broken up.

The Lions recovered an onside kick but turned the ball over on downs at midfield.

“I had a little pressure and I should have made that (conversion) throw,” Bryant said. “We had it but just couldn’t get the win.

“They have a really good team and shout out to them because they came out fighting. This is a great rivalry game, but it definitely hurts."