Oak Forest senior fullback Matt Barry searched for words Friday night following his team's 23-21 victory at Lemont.
After all, it's been a long road back for Barry and his team.
The Bengals (3-1, 2-0), snapped an eight-game losing streak to host Lemont while piling up 273 rushing yards, and Mike Wojtanowski banked a 25-yard field goal off the left upright and through with 2 minutes, 18 seconds remaining to cap the comeback and keep Oak Forest atop of the South Suburban Blue.
"This is the best feeling ever. Knowing that we beat the team that ended my season and my team's season in the quarterfinals," said Berry, whose season-ending ACL injury last year came against Lemont, the same team that knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs in a Class 6A quarterfinal. "I love my team. And it's all because of the defense and our offensive line. Without them this would never have been possible."
The Bengals rushed for 181 total yards in the first half, including 3- and 13-yard scoring runs from quarterback Nick Ciufia en route to a 14-0 lead.
Lemont sophomore quarterback Chris Thompson hooked up with Jimmy Kepouros on a 50-yard score to start the second half. Ciufia recovered Barry's fumble one series later and returned it for a 68-yard score and a 20-8 lead.
Lemont's Julio Aleman scored on an 18-yard run four plays later to draw the Indians to within 20-15 and added a 6-yard score with 8:22 left to give the Indians their only lead, 21-20.
The Indians (1-3, 0-1) had two more chances in the final 2:48, but the first drive ended in a fumble at midfield and Thompson's fourth-and-5 pass from his own 37 with 9 seconds remaining was knocked down at the line of scrimmage by Josh Morales.
Player of the game: Nick Ciufia, Oak Forest, 30 carries, 159 yards, 2 TDs.
Key performers: Oak Forest — Matt Barry, 27 carries, 106 yards. Lemont — Chris Thompson 15-for-23, 169 yards, 1 TD; 14 carries, 87 yards; Jimmy Kepouros, 13 catches, 156 yards.