LOCKPORT — There are many times when high school coaches and athletes, caught up in the emotion and excitement of a tremendous victory, are asked about their win and they say, “I don’t know if I can put it into words.”
Saturday afternoon, that was said a few times by those wearing muddied blue-and-gold uniforms for Lockport. But they deserved to. The lack of words were the perfect words.
Senior James Chambers scored four touchdowns, including the game-winning run in overtime, as the Lions won an almost indescribable Class AA quarterfinal against visiting Clarence, 42-35. Lockport fought back from a 27-0 second-quarter deficit in front of an astonished 1,000 fans who stuck out various bouts of rain to see a highlight-filled, up-and-down contest at Max D. Lederer Field.
“I tried to say a few things [after the game], and nothing intelligible came out, and it just dawned on me that there was nothing that I could say that could do justice to what they just saw and were a part of,” said Lockport coach Greg Bronson. “That’s the beauty of high school football, it’s the beauty of kids working together, believing what they are taught to do, coaches seeing those things come to fruition.”
Lockport (6-2), ranked ninth in The News large school poll, will host No. 4 Orchard Park at 2 p.m. Saturday in the AA semifinals for the right to play at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It is a rematch of Week One, when OP (7-1) won at Lockport, 42-21.
“This game was crazy,” said Chambers, who ran 35 times for 133 yards. “We came out really slow. We had our heads down for a little bit, but we brought them back up. We knew we could come back.”
Clarence dominated the game’s first few series, displaying a stout defense and a dangerous double-wing attack that Lockport simply could not stop. The Red Devils got one touchdown from junior Emaure Williams and two from senior Ben Reinhardt to take a 21-0 lead in the first quarter before Williams added another score 1:54 into the second.
Lockport made it 27-14 at halftime, and the score stayed that way into the fourth quarter. Lockport scored two touchdowns to go ahead, with a brilliant 90-yard punt return by Chambers giving the Lions a 28-27 lead. Clarence came right back to go up, 35-28, after Williams added to his outstanding day (238 yards on 23 carries) with a 43-yard score.
Lockport answered when junior quarterback Dan Bronson (12-22, 211 yards; nine runs for 52 yards) threw his second touchdown pass of the game, a 37-yarder to senior Tevye Maslowski to tie it with 1:56 left.
Lockport’s defense made a stop to get the ball back with 1:28 to go. The Lions drove for field goal attempt as the clock ran out — but the kick was wide to the right.
Lockport settled things quickly in overtime — on both sides of the ball. The Lions fed Chambers four times, the last a 1-yard touchdown run off a direct snap. Senior Kyle Few’s extra point was good for the 42-35 lead. Lockport limited Clarence to four plays, as Chambers (he also had an interception at linebacker) made a great stop for a 5-yard loss on first down and Clarence finished with three incompletions.
Senior Mitchell Evans had nine tackles, junior Marshall Taylor had eight and senior Seth Anderson recovered a fumble for Lockport.
“It’s impossible to put it into words, truthfully,” said Dan Bronson, Greg’s son. “It speaks so much to the resilience and the character of our team.”