Entering Friday night’s showdown in Darien for first place in the West Suburban Gold, Leyden had allowed 38 points and Hinsdale South a league-best 35.
That trend continued at Hinsdale South as Leyden triumphed 17-14 behind two momentum-shifting defensive plays.
Leyden senior linebacker Ivan Nevarez took the ball away from Hinsdale South quarterback DJ Deolitsis and raced 53 yards the other way to put the visitors ahead 14-7 with 8:29 left in the fourth quarter.
“It fell right into my hand,” Nevarez admitted. “Once I saw the ball in my hand I just continued to run.
“I did not think that I was that fast.”
On first down following the ensuing kickoff, Hornets running back Arian Toney was tackled and fumbled. Eagles linebacker Will Napier recovered on Hinsdale’s 37. Six plays later, Wach Mark squeaked over a 39-yard field goal to provide the insurance points.
Hinsdale South (4-1, 2-1) turned the ball over five times on two interceptions and three fumbles. Deolitsis, who scored his 10th touchdown of the season on a 74-yard draw play, carried 12 times for 99 yards, while completing 6-of-9 passes for 76 yards and a 17-yard TD pass to Abreon Starks.
Leyden (4-1, 3-0) outgained Hinsdale South 215 yards to 212. Senior quarterback Michael Smith completed 9-of-13 passes for 152 yards. His screen pass to Mickey Gulo went for a 51-yard touchdown that opened the scoring in the first quarter.
Gulo, who left last week’s win over Downers Grove South after tweaking his ankle, was back in the starting lineup and gained 58 yards on 17 carries.
“We told the kids we couldn’t win conference tonight, but we could lose it,” said Leyden coach Tom Cerasani. “The defense stepped it up big.”