Last weekend, Lockport’s starting quarterback, Dan Bronson, suffered a broken collarbone.
The injury was devastating. But it also gave the Lions a chance to show their heart, spirit and teamwork.
Behind junior Tyler Fraass and a defense that came up with big plays, Lockport pulled out a 33-27 upset of Orchard Park in a Class AA matchup Friday night on the Quakers’ home field.
It’s the first time Lockport has beaten OP since 2003, when the Lions beat the Quakers, 14-13, in the Section VI Class AA final.
“With Danny going down, Coach was emotional all week,” Fraass said. “We were all emotional. We just wanted to get the win for him. We were very focused all week in practice. No fooling around.”
The Lions were focused and ready to play last year’s state runner-up.
It wasn’t perfect. The Quakers rallied late in the fourth quarter and took advantage of some Lockport miscues. But an emotional Lions coach Greg Bronson (also the father of the injured QB Dan) was proud of the way his team came together.
“These guys, they don’t want to let their buddy down,” Greg Bronson said. “They all know that they’ve got a goal and in Double A that goal goes through Orchard Park. We’ve fallen short in trying to get there the last few years. Tonight we were able to pull it out but we also saw what championship caliber football programs do. They never give up. But we didn’t give up either.
“That’s what we can be most proud of. We had every reason to come and feel like we couldn’t do it. That’s not the way these kids are.”
Lockport held a 19-13 lead at halftime and the key drive of the game came in the second half.
The Lions took the kickoff and opened their drive on their own 33-yard line.
They worked the run, converted three third-down plays and capped the nearly nine-minute drive with a 9-yard touchdown run by Nick Hamilton.
“We took like nine minutes off the clock with that drive and that’s exactly what we told those kids to do,” Bronson said. “We weren’t able to get that type of consistency in the rest of the game, but it’s a good thing we did at that point. That’s exactly what you’re coaching kids to do and for them to come through and execute it is just a tremendous sign of progress.”
Lockport extended its lead in the fourth quarter on a 44-yard pass play from Fraass to Hamilton.
But the 33-13 lead wasn’t enough to discourage Orchard Park.
The Quakers struck back, using a lateral play along the sidelines to move deep into Lockport territory. A 15-yard pass play from David Hollins to Christopher Murphy made it 33-19 with 5:44 left. Orchard Park then recovered an onside kick and was driving again, but Dante Mount came up with his second interception of the day for Lockport.
The Lions offense, however, went four-and-out and the Quakers took advantage of good field position at the Lions 39. A 2-yard run by Desean Walker followed by a two-point conversion run by Kevin Goltz cut the lead to 33-27 with 2:26 left.
But Orchard Park’s onside kick this time did not work and with no timeouts left, the Lions ran down the clock until forced to punt. The Quakers had a last-chance play with 3.7 seconds left from Lockport’s 35, but the ball sailed through the end zone.
“We knew they were going to come back strong in the second half,” Fraass said. “They’re a state champion team. We had to come out and play just as hard and that’s what we did.”
Lockport took advantage of big plays in the first half. The Lions opened the scoring when Hamilton broke free for an 86-yard touchdown run.
Orchard Park answered on its next possession, constructing a 64-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Walker.
In the second quarter, Fraass hit Charlie Sobieraski for a 9-yard TD pass and a 13-7 lead.
OP again answered on the following possession, cracking a solid Lockport defense on a fourth-and-4 play from the Lions 5. A pass from Goltz to Michael Bruno tied the game 13-13.
The Quakers were driving late in the quarter when D’Andre Jenkins intercepted an Orchard Park pass and ran 89 yards before being pushed out at the 1-yard line. On the next play, Hamilton ran the ball for a touchdown. The two-point pass conversion failed and the Lions took a 19-13 lead with 54.8 seconds to play in the half.