Lowell capitalizes on late turnovers, tops Forest Hills Central to head back to the Division 2 semifinals
LOWELL — There is a lot to be said about tradition and knowing how to win at this time of the year.
The Lowell football team knows both, and that was key in Friday’s Division 2 regional final game against visiting Forest Hills Central.
In a tight game throughout, Lowell capitalized on three Ranger turnovers late in the game to beat its OK White Conference rival 22-19 and advance to next week’s semifinals.
"I’m proud of all my players, I really am," Lowell coach Noel Dean said. "I have 22 little brothers playing for me this year that had brothers that played in the past. Our kids get it, this town gets it, and we’re good."
The Red Arrows are competing in their 18th straight postseason, and with the win against Forest Hills Central, qualified for their eighth semifinal appearance in the past 15 years.
The Rangers hadn’t been in the playoffs since 2011, and this year’s run to the regional finals was just their third trip in the past 17 years.
But Dean knew this game was not going to be easy, considering that Lowell had to hold on to beat the Rangers 41-37 in week seven.
"The kids were playing hard, and trying to make plays," Dean said. We made a couple of nice plays in the secondary. And the one were the ball popped out, the kids were in pursuit and made the play. Those were huge, because understand this, they are not an easy team to play. They have four or five athletes that will give anyone matchup nightmares."
The three key defensive plays were an interception by Connor Douma in the end zone late in the third quarter that stopped a Forest Hills Central scoring chance that would have put the Rangers up by two scores.
The second was the fumble that the Lowell defense caused on Forest Hills Central’s next possession.
And the final was an interception by Hayden Barry-Coulier late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Red Arrows.
"You live and die by the sword a little bit," Forest Hills Central coach Tim Rogers said. "We were throwing the ball around like we had to against those guys, and we are going to make some mistakes every now and again. The one down in the end zone really hurts the most. So w lived and died by the sword, because we threw it around like we did last time."
Right form the start the Rangers threw it around, as Forest Hills Central senior quarterback Tanner Hallock completed nine of 11 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns that allowed his team to be down by just two points at the half, 15-13.
He then opened up the second half with a 9-yard touchdown touchdown to Jack Uecker that gave the Rangers the lead.
Lowell took back the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback David Kruse, and then leaned on its defense.
"Something we are always trying to improve on is no turnovers and play the perfect game," Kruse said. "We didn’t get it today, but now we still have another week to work on it."