Lightning strikes delay the inevitable at Shirley Tudor Stadium.
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lightning struck in several different ways on Saturday afternoon at Shirley Tudor Stadium.
Lockport senior tailback James Chambers (20 carries, 150 yards, 2 TDs) flashed and danced his way to two long touchdowns — one on a pass and another on a run — as the visiting Lockport Lions defeated Starpoint, 31-6 in the fifth rivalry football series game between the two neighboring school districts. Lockport now leads the series 4-1.
With just under seven minutes left in the game and Lockport leading comfortably, a large dark cloud appeared over the horizon and distant lightning flashes forced referees to postpone the game for the state-required 30 minutes. Subsequent lightning strikes postponed the game for about an hour in all.
Hard rain and hail fell and fans scrambled out of the metal stands to safety and players headed to their respective locker rooms. The game finally resumed at about 5 p.m.
The visiting blue and gold opened the game with a well-executed, 13-play 40 yard drive that culminated with a 37-yard field goal from senior kicker Kyle Few. The big play of that drive was a fourth-and-16, 21-yard pass from junior quarterback Danny Bronson to senior wide receiver RD Hillman.
Moments later, kudos to the Starpoint offensive line as the Spartans took the lead moments later when outstanding junior running back Evan Majewski (23 carries, 185 yards, TD) burst through a hole that Starpoint’s veteran clock operator Bill Austin said even he could have ran through and sprinted by everyone for a spectacular 80-yard touchdown run. The PAT was no good, but the host Spartans led, 6-3.
Lockport responded with a four-play 53-yard drive. On fourth-and-three at the Spartans’ 46, Bronson (6-for-15, 158 yards, TD) whipped a pass out to the left side where Chambers was left uncovered. No. 23 grabbed the pass then sprinted down the left sideline untouched as Few’s PAT made it 10-6 Lions with 3:16 left in the first.
“James is explosive and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents,” said Lions head coach Greg Bronson.
“He’s still a little inconsistent in some areas and still not sunning the football in the places where he’s designed to a number of times, but that’s the naturae of James’ style. You might stop him a couple of times, but eventually, he’s going to get by you.”
The Spartans were driving deep into Lockport territory on their next possession, but on the first play of the second quarter, LHS junior middle linebacker Moziah Townsend intercepted Spartans senior QB Andrew Rankie at the Spartans’ 25.Chambers’ big 18-yard gain on third and long kept the drive alive, then Bronson took it in himself, running left into the end zone. Few’s PAT made it 17-6 Lions with 8:49 left in the half.A high snap from center put the Spartans back deep into their own zone and they eventually punted.The Spartans held defensively on downs and took over at midfield, but not before Bronson hooked up with senior wide receiver Tevye Maslowski on a nice 42-yard pass play.
Once again, the Spartans, who finished with 219 total rushing yards, drove deep into LHS territory, but gain came up empty when senior Connor Wells’ 23-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with one tick left on the clock before halftime.
The second half opened with another great Starpoint drive, but again no points to show for it. Majewski was the workhorse throughout the drive, which ended at the Lockport 12 yard line.
Then came the game’s ugly turning point. On third-and-nine at the LHS 30, Rankie scrambled for a first down, but a late hit knocked him out of the game with a concussion. On the very next play, with Lockport WLVL Radio announcer Norm Palmer talking about the importance of the new exchange between center and QB, the Spartans fumbled the ball on their very next snap and Lions’ senior Mitchell Evans recovered at the Lockport 12.
“That hit on my quarterback turned the whole game around,— said Spartans coach Al Cavagnaro, who’s now minus his No. 1 and 2 quarterbacks due to concussions.
“I thought our coaches made great adjustments at halftime and we were driving the ball and that changed everything. But I give Lockport credit. They played well.”
The Lions promptly marched 88 yards on eight plays, capped by Chambers’ 57-yard TD scamper around the left side. Few’s PAT made it 24-6 Lions with 3:22 to go in the third.
Sacks by Lockport seniors Marshall Taylor (game-high 11 tackles, sack, 4.5 tackles for a loss) and Evan Aloisio helped stop the next Starpoint drive. On the first play of the fourth quarter, facing a third and 30, Lockport senior Will Diebel intercepted a pass at midfield.
The Lions then marched 52 yards on seven plays, capped by Evans’ 1-yard TD run. Few’s PAT rounded out the scoring.
Defensively for the Spartans, Matt Pennacchio had 10 tables and a sack and Joe Nye and Steve Wilde added five stops apiece.
Aloisio, Taylor and senior Tom Furlong had sacks for the Lions.
Coach Cav said he was happy with his rushing yardage, not what it failed to produced.
“We shot ourselves in the foot all day — bad snaps from center, a guy missing a block here or a tackle there. We had 200-plus yards rushing and only six points. We should have had at least three scores with that many yards,” Cavagnaro said.
“It could have been a closer game and more competitive. We just made too many mistakes. And kudos to Lockport.”
JFK 31, Wilson 26
CHEEKTOWAGA — The visiting Lakemen dropped to 1-1 in Section VI Class B action on Saturday.
Wilson junior quarterback Tim Walch was 8 for 19 passing for 94 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Justin Slango had 60 yards on 13 carries and fellow senior Chris Reid added 85 yards on just five carries with a TD.
Defensively for head coach Bill Atlas’ Lakemen, senior Steve Szuba had 16 tackles.