Metea Valley stymied at Lockport

On the first carry of the game, Lockport junior Aiden Preciado fumbled, handing the ball to Metea Valley at the Porter 13.

But the Porters defense only allowed a field goal and Preciado redeemed himself by scoring a pair of touchdowns as a depleted Lockport team rolled to a 44-10 victory over Metea Valley in a non conference clash on Friday night in Lockport.

Dating back to the last two games of 2019, it was the 21st victory for the defending Class 8A State Champion Porters (2-0) in their last 24 games. Between the start of the 2017 season and the seventh week of 2019, Lockport lost 21 of 25 games.

Metea Valley (0-2) gave up over 40 points for the second straight game.

"My first carry wasn't good and I have to hold onto the ball," Preciado said. "But the coaches had faith in me and I just had to come back, hit harder, and be ready the next time."

After junior Nate Blazewski banged home a 23-yard field goal to tie the game, Preciado capped the next two Porter possessions with a pair of touchdown plunges from a yard out. Those scores held up as the halftime margin of 17-3 as Lockport couldn't convert after senior Rob Baranowski blocked a punt late in the first half.

"We have a great team, a gritty team," Preciado said. "We all had to step up and play hard. I wouldn't have been able to do it without Drew (Gallagher) handing me the ball and the offensive line blocking. I just have to thank them."

Preciado, who finished with 13 carries for 58 yards, was filling in for Giovani Zaragoza, who had 32 carries for 178 yards and 2 TDS in the opener. Gallagher, who was 6-of-8 for 126 yards passing with a touchdown, and added 18 carries for 130 yards at two TDS on the ground, was filling in for Brady Pfeiffer, who left last week's win over Joliet West late in the first half with a shoulder injury.

"As coach (George Czart) says, it's 'we over me,'" Gallagher said of stepping in at quarterback. "I'm glad the team had confidence in me. I know (Preciado) was nervous early on but he made some great runs. Plus, his blocks were amazing.

"I think we can be just as good as last year."

Gallagher scrambled in from 6-yards out early in the third quarter for his first TD. The drive was set up when senior Van Jongen recovered a fumble. Just over a minute later, Gallagher scored again, this time from 3-yards out. That was set up when the Mustangs fumbled on a punt attempt.

Then Gallagher, who is a junior, connected with his big tight end, senior Hyatt Timosciek (4 receptions for 94 yards) on a 28-yard touchdown pass. Junior Eli Beltran (11 carries for 29 yards) then joined the party with a 5-yard touchdown run with 11:33 to play to cap the Lockport scoring.

The final two Porter touchdowns were set up on interceptions by junior Jalen Falcon. With key defensive backs Joey Manzo and Troy Mutz out with injuries, Falcon was one of a few different guys to step in at that position.

"The coaches told me to be ready at any time," said Falcon, who didn't start the game. "I was and it was a great feeling to get those interceptions. When I get those and start running, I feel invincible."

"Anyone can step up and we are a really good team."

The Mustangs, who got on the board first on a 24-yard field goal from Nico Carrier, scored a touchdown with 4:45 to play in the game. That came on a 39-yard pass from Noah Larson to Robert Lynch. Larson finished 12-of-29 for 138 yards with two interceptions and a TD. Lynch had five catches for 79 yards.

The early fumble was recovered for the Mustangs by Evan Hall. Metea Valley coach John Parpet, Jr. lamented not converting that early opportunity into a touchdown.

"We should have scored a touchdown early but we dropped a TD pass," Parpet said. "We just dropped too many balls. We knew that Lockport was big upfront and we'd have a hard time running on them. So we had to take advantage of those opportunities to score.

"We kicked a field goal because you don't want to walk away from points early. But it was hard for us to get in any rhythm. Our defense played hard but just got worn down."

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