Lockport takes down Loyola, reaches state championship game for 1st time since 2003

Lockport's Hayden Timosciek passes the ball as Loyola's Graham Mccabe tries to block it during the IHSA Class 8A varsity football semifinal playoff game between Lockport Township and Loyola Academy on Saturday, November 20, 2021 in Wilmette.

WILMETTE – Hayden Timosciek didn’t have the best start to Lockport’s Class 8A semifinal game against Loyola on Saturday.

The senior quarterback took a sack on the first snap of the game for a 3-yard loss, leading the Porters to go three-and-out on its first possession.

Timosciek moved on from that sack pretty well though, throwing for 241 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Porters over top-seeded Loyola, 35-21, and bring the program back to the state title game for the first time since 2003.

“Just to bring back that winning culture to Lockport, it’s amazing.” Timosciek said. “It just feels great.”

Lockport’s coaching staff knew it would need to throw the ball well if Loyola eliminated the Porters’ running game early on, which the Ramblers did. Porters coach George Czart had confidence in his senior quarterback to make critical throws in tough situations.

Tied at 14 with its first possession of the second half, the Porters drove 58 yards and scored on a Ty Schultz 7-yard run with 5:16 left in the third quarter. Lockport had two completions on the drive and Loyola committed two pass interference penalties to help Lockport move the ball.

The Porters drove the ball late in the third quarter and scored on a Schultz 1-yard run to make it 28-14 with 11:10 left in the game.

The Porters added one more touchdown with 4:49 left in the game when Little caught a 8-yard pass for a touchdown to make it 35-21.

“We came in knowing that we were going to have to throw a lot,” Timosciek said. “At the beginning of the game I was intimidated, but once I started rolling, I felt so much more confident in the ball.”

The Porters responded quickly after Loyola scored a touchdown in the first quarter, driving 60 yards on five plays and scoring on a 7-yard pass from Timosciek to Danny Martisek. The Porters responded again late in the second quarter, scoring on a 30-yard pass from Timosciek to Ryan Little with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.

Lockport finished with 340 total yards of offense. Schultz rushed for two touchdowns and 88 yards, while Martisek finished with 137 receiving yards. Timosciek’s consistent throws, including on critical third and fourth downs, helped his team put Loyola away with extended drives.

“He’s a very determined young man, very smart, very talented,” Czart said. “He was determined today to get it done.”

Loyola’s offense tried to come back in the fourth quarter when it scored on a 6-yard pass from Jake Stearney to Roger Simon with 10:27 left in the game, but Stearney wasn’t at full strength after injuring his throwing hand in the third quarter, which took away his deep ball.

Lockport intercepted Stearney three times on Loyola’s last three possessions. The junior quarterback finished with 166 passing yards while the Ramblers had 268 total yards of offense. James Kreutz scored two touchdowns in the game and rushed for 27 yards.

The Ramblers couldn’t overcome injuries to running backs Mike Regan and Will Nimesheim, both of whom played injured, and tight end Jack Fitzgerald. Loyola has been without lead running back Marco Maldonado for much of the season with a collarbone injury and the running back was one day away from being cleared to play.

“It’s hard to win at this level with that level of team when you’re not at full strength, let alone decimated by injuries,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “That’s what it felt like today.”

Lockport will play Maine South in the Class 8A state championship game on Saturday, Nov. 27, in DeKalb. The game will be the first state title game since winning back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003.

The Porters are excited to get back to the title game, showing just how far the program can go with its dedicated players.

“It’s great,” Czart said. “We’ve worked hard for this. It was great that we had a chance and now we get to show people what these kids are made of. It was pretty good, wasn’t it?”