After being ravaged for 155 points in the season’s first five games, the Leo Lions’ defense dug in and pitched a shutout in a nonconference matchup with Thornton of Harvey at St. Rita’s Cronin Field. A large, festive Homecoming crowd was treated to a 22-0 victory on the last evening of September.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we did what we needed to do, and we’ll take the ‘W’,” Coach Mike Holmes said after the Lions (2-4) halted a four-game losing streak.
With its vaunted air game stuck on the tarmac, points were hard to come by for Leo. Darion Lee threw three first-half interceptions, but scored the only touchdown of the half on a 1-yard sneak after Thomas Sims’ interception and 15-yard return set the Lions up at Thornton’s 28-yard line.
After a scoreless third quarter, Kevin Jackson brought the crowd to life when he dashed 78 yards with a punt return for his eighth touchdown of the season. The dynamic senior also had three catches for 68 yards and three carries for 18 yards on another typically productive evening.
Lee shook off a forgettable first half and hit five of nine passes for 108 yards in the second, setting up the Lions’ final score with a 30-yard hookup to Merrick Sample. Sophomore Javon Logan carried nine times for 58 yards and a touchdown, adding two PAT kicks.
Senior Tyjuan McDaniels was a one-man gang for Thornton (1-5), completing 12 of 24 passes for 69 yards and gaining 30 yards on his six carries. But he threw three straight incompletions after driving the Wildcats to the Leo 5-yard line in the first quarter, turning the ball over on downs. And he threw an end-zone interception to freshman JR Thomas to negate their final scoring chance in the third period.
With a 6 p.m. game at Nazareth on Thursday, Oct. 6, the Lions will have little time to savor a victory that kept their faint playoff hopes alive. The Roadrunners, an uncharacteristic 2-4 after a 31-10 pasting by St. Rita, will be playing for their own playoff lives.