The streak lives: Lincoln-Way East squeaks past Lockport

The game was a defensive battle, and the Griffins came out on top 12-10, their 17th consecutive victory against the Porters.

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Lincoln-Way East’s Trey Johnson (4) runs the ball during the game against Lockport.

Lincoln-Way East’s Trey Johnson (4) runs the ball during the game against Lockport.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

A massive crowd filled the Lockport stands on Friday. The stage was set for a special night. The undefeated No. 15 Porters were hosting No. 17 Lincoln-Way East, a team that has dominated the south suburbs and most of the state for the past decade.

Lockport hadn’t beaten the Griffins since 2004. But Lincoln-Way East’s loss to Sandburg in Week 6 showed it was vulnerable.

What many Porters fans didn’t know as they filed into the stadium was that starting quarterback Hayden Timosciek was out with an injury. The game was a defensive battle and the Griffins came out on top for a 12-10 victory, their 17th consecutive win against Lockport.

“I know their quarterback was out,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “That could have made a three-point difference no doubt.”

Porters fans will never know.

Lincoln-Way East (6-2) scored at the end of the first quarter on a 20-yard pass from Brennan Stolarek to Jack Tremblay. The Griffins led 6-0 after a missed extra point.

That first score seemed to take the air out of the Lockport faithful, the big crowd never had a chance to make much noise.

“That matters, keeping the crowd quiet,” Tremblay said. “There was a lot of heat on social media between the teams. Two great teams. The opportunity to silence them early on is good.”

Tremblay had four catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Stolarek was 10-for-16 passing for 124 yards with two touchdowns. He left the game with an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter.

Lincoln-Way East running back Trey Johnson was the dominant offensive force in the game with 32 carries for 127 yards.

The Griffins won it on the defensive end. Sophomore linebacker Conner Durkin had two key sacks and senior Jon Guch had an interception in the end zone in the third quarter that may have been the biggest play of the game.

“That was the game,” Zvonar said. “We still would have had the lead but we always say turnovers nullify long drives. The momentum and everything shifted in that one play. Guch is a top player in the state. He’s had a couple rough moments this year but responded in that moment.”

Lincoln-Way East led 12-2 at the half and it stayed that way for most of the game.

Lockport scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Brady Pfeiffer to Ethan Gallagher with 31 seconds left. The Griffins recovered the onside kick to seal the win.

“We didn’t take away the things we knew would hurt us,” Lockport coach George Czart said. “[Tremblay] and [Johnson] were the two guys that we were supposed to stop and we couldn’t.”

Lockport’s Brady Pfeiffer (9) looks for an open receiver during the game against Lincoln-Way East.

Lockport’s Brady Pfeiffer (9) looks for an open receiver during the game against Lincoln-Way East.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Pfeiffer, a junior, was 14-for-29 passing for 184 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“[Timosciek] had an injury he suffered in the last game and said he couldn’t throw 100 percent,” Czart said. “And our trainer didn’t clear him. [Pfeiffer] practiced all week. It’s not like we just threw him in there.”

The Porters (7-1) wrap up the regular season next week against Andrew and will have a lofty seed in the Class 8A playoffs. Lincoln-Way East will clearly still be a major factor in the playoffs.

“My hat is off to our players,” Zvonar said. “Two weeks ago after the upset loss to Sandburg they could have folded the tents but they recommitted themselves. Who knows what the future holds. Tonight at least the story of our demise has been greatly exaggerated.”

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