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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Grand Island rolls past Lockport, improves to 5-1

The Week 6 matchup on Thursday evening between Grand Island and Lockport had all the makings for a great, back-and-forth, classic high school football contest: A primetime game on television between the top two teams in a division – with both schools on three-game win streaks – and first place in Class A North on the line.

However, the clash between the Vikings and Lions ended up being a one-sided affair, with the former out-scoring the latter 36-0 in the first half en route to a convincing, 43-12 victory. The win bumps Grand Island’s overall record to 5-1 and keeps the Vikings in the top spot in the A North Division standings. With just two games remaining in the regular season, first is a great place to be in.

“We know that when we get to the playoffs we’re going to see good football teams, so we’re just concentrating and focusing on getting better and being better each week,” Grand Island head coach Dean Santorio said postgame. “And Lockport has a good, athletic football team. We did a lot of nice things early, obviously offensively executing. And defensively, we did a great job. [Lockport] has been 42 points the last few games, and we really love what we did on that side of the ball is well.”

Grand Island moves down the field with ease on its opening drive and gets a 1-yd TD run from Brian Bielec to take the early 7-0 lead — WNY Athletics (@WNYAthletics) October 7, 2021

Grand Island’s offense started the game hot, finding the end zone less than three minutes in, and never looked back. Quarterback Justin Horvath connected with sophomore Brayden Willats through the air for a 46-yard gain, quickly putting the Vikings at Lockport’s four-yard line. A couple plays later, Brian Bielec crossed the goal line from a yard out, giving Grand Island the early 7-0 lead.

Special teams played a big part Thursday night as well, especially early. The Vikings pinned Lockport inside its own 15 on the ensuing kickoff. And after a brief possession, a short punt from the Lions gave Grand Island great field position to quickly extend its lead. Bielec scored his second one-yard rushing touchdown a few minutes later, and with a successful two-point conversion attempt following a flag against Lockport on the extra point kick, Grand Island lead 15-0 with 2:02 left in the first.

Bielec broke off a 36-yard run early in the second quarter to set up Grand Island’s third score. Horvath found Tyler Figliola in the end zone for an eight-yard passing touchdown, the first of three on the night for the senior quarterback.

Lockport’s offense began to show some life after going down 22-0. Quarterback Jason Green threw a great ball to Matt Schaffert for a 32-yard gain, putting the Lions in Grand Island territory. Shortly after the big catch, Figliola intercepted Green, looking for Schaffert again, at the Vikings’ 10-yard line.

Back on the offensive side of the ball, Figliola continued to make big plays. The senior caught a 46-yard pass to get Grand Island back in Lockport’s red zone, and followed it up with his second receiving touchdown of the night on a 10-yard toss, extending the lead to 29-0 with 4:08 left until halftime.

Figliola picked Green off a second time with less than two minutes to play in the half. Grand Island capitalized on the turnover, as Horvath found Jackson Jones for a 16-yard passing touchdown, giving the Vikings a 36-0 lead at the midway break.

Lockport got a spark early in the third quarter after recovering a Grand Island fumble at midfield. Schaffert caught a pass from Green and took it for a 50-yard catch-and-run score, getting the Lions on the board. Lockport’s deficit remained at 30 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

On the ensuing kickoff, Grand Island’s lead lengthened, as Figliola struck again, returning the kick 80-yards for his third score of the night, and giving Grand Island a 43-6 advantage.

“We had some momentum coming into tonight,” Figliola said after the win. “We’ve had some big wins the last few games, and playing on a Thursday, it’s a little bit different, but the energy was there and we loved it.”

Jackson Jones grabbed an interception as well late in the third quarter, the fourth turnover forced by the Grand Island defense (the Vikings recovered a Lockport fumbled on the final play of the first half), capping another strong night for the unit. Lockport’s touchdown with 2:38 left in the fourth did more than just cut the score to 43-12. It also snapped Grand Island’s streak of three-straight games of keeping teams under double-digit points. Regardless, coach Santorio was pleased with the effort.

“We have a lot of quick, athletic kids on that side of the ball,” Santorio said. “We rally to the football really well. We run well to the ball. We have speed, not only in our linebacker position, but also in our secondary. I can’t say enough good things about Steve Stuck and what he does with our defense and how we prepare.”

Now on a four-game win streak, Grand Island sits atop the A North division at 4-0 in league play and 5-1 overall. The Vikings have two divisional matchups left on the regular season slate, Niagara Wheatfield on Friday, Oct. 15 on the road, followed by a Week 8 home game against Sweet Home on Friday, Oct. 22.

Lockport, now sitting at 3-3 overall and 3-2 in A North takes on Kenmore East at home on Saturday, Oct. 16, and then will wrap up the regular season on October 22 on the road against South Park.

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