LOCKPORT – Lockport has been playing football for over 100 years. In that span, the Porters have seen their share of crazy endings.
This one was right there with them.
Nate Blazewski kicked a game-tying 48-yard field goal with under a second left in regulation. Then fellow senior Kevin Holland hauled in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Drew Gallagher in overtime. The Porter defense held and they emerged with a 31-24 victory over a very game Naperville Central team in a wild affair on Friday night at Lockport.
“This is a situation that I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Holland said. “I’ve been coming to Lockport games with my dad (Brian) since I was in third grade. I always wanted to have this moment.”
Holland, who had six receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns, made some huge catches down the stretch, including the winning one in the right corner on the second play of overtime to give Lockport (3-0) the win. The Redhawks (2-1) had rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit and looked like they would pull off a great comeback. But the Porters stayed poised.
“We just knew we had to keep fighting,” Holland said. “We knew we were going to find a way to win this game.”
Still, that prospect looked bleak when senior quarterback Jack Cook scored from a yard out and then found senior Logan Devick on a 2-point conversion pass with 2:45 to play in the game to give the Redhawks a 24-21 lead. Lockport then turned the ball over on downs at the Porter 24 with 2:00 left.
On fourth-and-four, Naperville Central went to attempt a 35-yard field goal that would have extended the lead to six. But the snap was high and fumbled. Senior kicker Logan Ellison, who had a 41-yard field goal to open the scoring in the first quarter, fell on the ball for a 15-yard loss and Lockport had life, taking over at its own 33 with 1:37 to play in regulation.
After he had dropped a pass on second down, Holland went up and made a great catch for a 29-yard gain on third-and-12 to the Redhawk 40. Then, on a third-and-13 play, Gallagher hit fellow senior Tanner Benaitis over the middle for a 12-yard gain to the 31.
“Coach (George) Czart always says to be like a goldfish, Holland said. “They have a memory of three seconds. So I had to come back and make that catch. I’m just speechless and have amazing teammates.”
The Porters then executed perfectly by bringing their field goal unit onto the field. Blazewski, who made a 51-yarder last week but missed from 52 and 54 yards in the first half, calmly came on and made the kick with just 0.7 seconds to play to tie the game.
“It was just like in practice,” Blazewski said. “We run the hurry up every week. The coaches trained me to be in a position like that and I succeeded. The snap was perfect, the hold was perfect and I did my job. There was great blocking from everyone on the line. They gave me the opportunity and I did my job.”
So did Gallagher, who finished 19-of-28 for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
“Oh my God, I was all over the place but never down on myself,” Gallagher said. “I was always poised and even when we got down I was making jokes on the sideline with (backup quarterback) Conley Pfeiffer to stay loose. We always practice that field goal play on special teams and it went according to plan.”
After the TD pass to Holland, the Porter defense, which had given up three straight touchdowns in the second half, only surrendered 2 yards, on a third down run, and forced three incompletions in the overtime to complete the crazy win.
Cook finished 20-of-35 for 216 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw for 116 yards in the fourth quarter alone and had TD passes of 23 yards and 17 yards to senior wide receiver Christopher Bern (nine catches for 104 yards) in the second half.
Lockport looked unstoppable in the first half. Gallagher found Holland on a 65-yard pass down to the one. Senior running back Elijah Beltran scored from there with 1:43 left in the first quarter for a 7-3 lead. Then Gallagher found junior wide receiver Izeyah Pruitt for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 3:02 left in the second quarter.
Following an interception by sophomore defensive back Colton Benaitis, Gallagher scrambled to his left and hit Holland with a 21-yard TD pass with 1:03 left in the half. Junior linebacker Payton Roberson added an interception in the final minute of the first half but Blazewski was short on a 54-yard attempt on the final play of the half.
But he made it when it counted the most at the end of regulation and Lockport had an amazing win.
“The kids did what they were coached to do,” Czart said of the tying field goal. The holder kept calm and the kids didn’t panic.
“The win is one with a lot of drama and a memory that the kids will never forget. But I would have rather won by two touchdowns. We felt good at halftime but credit Naperville Central for coming back and taking it to us.”