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Lincoln-Way East knocks off undefeated Lockport

Griffins claim yet another SouthWest Suburban Conference crown

LOCKPORT – In order to knock Lincoln-Way East off the top perch of the SouthWest Suburban Conference, an opponent has to bring a maximum, and most importantly, clean effort to the table.

And if you don’t, the Griffins typically get the better of you.

That same old story played out yet again Friday night as the Griffins methodically chipped away at previously undefeated Lockport for a 12-10 victory, securing yet another SouthWest Suburban Blue Conference title in the process.

“Our kids hung in there and were gritty on every play. A little undersized up front, we were probably giving up 50, 60 pounds per man, and our guys got beat on a little bit, but they answered back and made some plays,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “Overall, I told the kids I wasn’t kidding, because of the team that we have this year it was one of the best wins we’ve had in program history.”

Lockport’s Ethan Gallagher corralled a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brady Pfeiffer with 31 seconds to play to tighten up the final margin. Lincoln-Way East secured the onside kick to cement the victory, but it was a few plays in the second half that ultimately secured the win for the Griffins (6-2, 3-1 Southwest Suburban Blue).

Lockport finally started to engineer some offense in the third quarter and marched down the field seemingly destined to tighten the score. But the Porters couldn’t finish the drive as Griffins cornerback Jon Guch snatched the ball away from the Porters’ primary receiving threat Ryan Little in the end zone to squash Lockport’s rally.

It was the last real threat Lockport would put forth until the final minute of the game.

“That (the interception) was the game,” Zvonar said. “They go to the receiver that’s an All-Stater and we knew they were going to go to him, and we’ve always known that Jon Guch is one of the top corners in the state. He’s had a few rough moments, but responding right there down there in the end zone. We always say turnovers nullify long drives and the momentum and everything shifted in that one play.”

Lincoln-Way East’s offensive effort in the first half wasn’t particularly flashy, but it certainly was effective. Trey Johnson (29 carries, 116 yards) kept the chains moving, and in the red zone the combination of QB Brennan Stolarek and WR Jack Tremblay proved to be lethal.

The duo opened the scoring with a 19-yard connection to give the Griffins an early 6-0 lead. Then after the two connected for a 44-yard gainer on third down deep in their own territory, it set up another scoring play between the two, this one from 13 yards.

“We knew coming into this game that we were going to have to battle. They have some dogs over there,” Tremblay said. “So many emotions right now. I knew coming into this game it was going to be a challenge, but we were confident. We knew what we were getting into here, and we knew we could do it.”

Lockport did manage to get on the scoreboard as the halftime horn sounded, getting a 41-yard field goal from Gabe Czako. But it was one of few offensive bright spots in the first half for Lockport as only a 47-yard completion from Brady Pfeifer to Ethan Gallagher that set up the field goal kept the Porters from posting dismal first half stats.

Lockport (7-1, 3-1) also played without quarterback Hayden Timosciek, although he did punt. Timosciek was unable to quarterback because of an undisclosed injury.