Nine years, nine losses. Most of them embarrassing.
Not this time.
Lincoln-Way East beat Lockport Friday night for the 10th straight occasion in the regular season, but it wasn’t like the rest.
The host Porters fought and fought, until a 12-yard run by Paul Gossage gave East the first down it needed to finally put away a 28-25 Southwest Suburban Blue victory.
Lockport quarterback Jeremy Quade was 12-of-22 for 236 yards to lead the Porters, if not to victory, certainly to a state of respectability.
“It’s been tough. We’ve been battling,” Quade said. “I don’t like taking moral victories, but we battled and they’re a very good team.
“It was a statement. We sent a message to the rest of the conference that we’re not going to give up.”
A wild fourth quarter saw the Porters (0-4, 0-2), trailing 21-10 after three, twice throw scares into the Griffins (3-1, 2-0). They scored first on an 18-yard run by Matt Skobel and a trick 2-yard conversion pass from Dylan Cox to quarterback Jeremy Quade, and then later on a 1-yard run by Cory Savage and a PAT kick by Drevko Martarano.
In both cases, it drew Lockport to within three.
East did enough to win, however, thanks mostly to running back Liam Morrissey, who scored on a 26-yard run in between Lockport’s two late scores, and earlier had TD trots of 1 and 3 yards. He ended the night with 161 yards rushing.
“There is still a lot that I have to work on,” a quiet Morrissey said. “There were at least two times I should have had first downs and stopped Lockport from scoring.
“It should have been a lot better. I should have had a lot more yards on important plays.”
He wasn’t alone on a night when East almost fell victim to its own indiscipline.
East struck early, the ground game providing back-to-back touchdowns on 1-yard runs by quarterback Mike Weller (178 yards passing) and Morrissey and a 14-0 lead.
But while the Griffins ran the ball well, their lack of discipline would allow Lockport to work itself back into the game.
A missed tackle resulted in a 60-yard pass play from Quade to Sean Kelley. It was the highlight of a Porters drive that ended with a 2-yard TD run by Savage.
Later, an illegal helmet hit kept a Lockport drive going and opened the door to a 28-yard field goal by Martarano.
In all, East was flagged for 80 yards in penalties in the opening 24 minutes.
The Griffins had the final say of the first half, the big play in a 75-yard drive a 20-yard pass reception by Logan Winkler in which he wrestled the ball away from Lockport defender Deiondre Taylor. Morrissey scored his second TD of the game from the 3, the PAT by Nick Jenig making it 21-10 at halftime.