Gomez, South Elgin hold off Lockport rally
Lockport was in trouble whenever South Elgin quarterback Nate Gomez gained open space in the Storm's 35-28 nonconference home win Saturday.
In complete control of the read-option offense, the senior with sub-4.7 speed rushed for 178 yards and 4 touchdowns on 21 carries and threw for 74 yards and another score as South Elgin improved to 2-0 for the third time in its 12-year history and the first time since 2010.
"I love this offense, just being an athlete, being able to run the ball, being able to pass the ball, make reads," Gomez said. "I'm very comfortable with it."
Lockport (1-1) rallied from a 21-7 deficit. Tavares Moore scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal just before halftime and they tied the game with 7:03 left in the fourth quarter on a 35-yard heave on third-and-long from junior quarterback Jake Karli to 6-2 senior receiver Austin Hoffman.
Gomez answered. He carried the ball for gains of 8 and 14 yards before he broke a big one: a 60-yard touchdown run around the left end. He saw daylight created by wide receiver blocks, hit the jets, dodged a diving tackler at the 35 and was gone.
"Their ends were crashing all day," Gomez said. "I knew I had to bounce that one. I did and the hole was there. The O-line did a great job blocking and the wide receivers did a great job blocking. That's what got it done."
Lockport went back to work with its short passing game, which netted 227 yards on 26 completions by Karli in 42 attempts. However, on the fifth play of the ensuing possession, Storm defensive end Dalton Doherty intercepted a middle screen pass at the Porters' 44-yard line and returned it to the 22 to give his offense another crack.
Gomez cashed in two plays later on a 13-yard keeper with 5:45 to play, showing no ill effects of also playing safety and special teams. In fact, the South Elgin was so effective via its quarterback's legs, the Storm threw the ball only 7 times in the second half.
"It's tough to throw when they're dropping eight or there's a six-man box, and that's what they were giving us," Storm coach Pat Pistorio said. "We felt that Nate and our running backs could keep them honest."
South Elgin's last 5 offensive plays were Gomez runs on the read option. Two of them went for touchdowns.
"I give him credit," Lockport coach Dan Starkey said of Gomez. "He's playing both sides of the ball, he's a punter, he's a punt returner. He's Mr. Do-It-All. He's a great football player. We didn't tackle as well as we would have liked to and I'm disappointed with the way we played defense. But give them all the credit. (Gomez) was a special player."
Lockport drew within 35-28 with 20.1 seconds to play when Karli capped a 17-play, 70-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hoffman, his second scoring catch.
The onside kick was caught and smothered by South Elgin senior Joey Cipriani and the Storm ran out the clock.
"It feels great, 2-0 to start the season" Dalton Doherty said. "We've got a lot more victories ahead."