Dual-threat Lloyd Yates keys Oak Park-River Forest in win

Oak Park River-Forest's Lloyd Yates carries the ball as Lincoln-Way East's Luke Epich pursues in Frankfort, Illinois, August 29, 2014. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Oak Park River-Forest's Lloyd Yates carries the ball as Lincoln-Way East's Luke Epich pursues in Frankfort, Illinois, August 29, 2014. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

After waiting nine months for the return of football, all Oak Park-River Forest got was more waiting.

Barely four minutes into Friday night’s game at Lincoln-Way East, the Huskies walked off the field and into the Griffins’ fieldhouse when play was suspended because of threatening weather.

It was a scene that played out all over the area, halting some games and forcing others to be postponed till Saturday.

Is this the new normal? The same thing happened on opening night a year ago, with almost no games getting played according to schedule. Some were pushed well into the next week.

But this delay was short-lived, and it turned out to be a boon for the Huskies, who roared back after play resumed to earn a 49-34 statement win.

Northwestern-bound quarterback Lloyd Yates made plays with his arm and legs, going 7-for-13 for 142 yards and running 18 times for 168 yards. He ran for two touchdowns and passed for three more as East had no answer for his quick feet and quick decisions.

“We feel like we’re one of the fastest teams in the state and we want to use that speed,” Yates said.

After settling down and getting into a groove, the Huskies did.

“I think it might have worked to our advantage,” coach John Hoerster said of the delay. “We were on the bus for two hours coming here, it took us forever. That allowed us to at least take a breath.”

Yates took off on a 68-yard scoring run in the second quarter and threw touchdown passes to two receivers, a 19-yarder to Cole Fields in the first quarter and a 50-yarder to Kejuan Ratcliff in the second.

And Yates isn’t the only Huskie with breakaway speed: Antonio Cannon busted off a 36-yard scoring run in the first quarter.

But Lincoln-Way East showed why it’s one of the top programs in the state, bouncing back and delivering a counter to every punch Oak Park landed.

Mike Weller (32-of-47, 333 yards, 2 interceptions), who came up big in the Griffins’ Class 7A playoff run last season, capped a 70-yard drive with a one-yard TD run and threw a pair of touchdown pass to Paul Gossage. That kept East within striking distance at halftime at 28-21.

But Yates had two more touchdown runs after halftime and Dallis Flowers returned an interception for a score to keep Oak Park in control.

Weller answered with another TD pass and another scoring run, but he couldn’t catch up to Yates. On this night, no one could.

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