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Lowell scores 14 points in second half, defeats Rockford, 21-10

By: Steve Vedder, September 2, 2016, 11:24 pm

Lowell – Addison Buckius didn’t even flinch when he saw the play called by Lowell’s coaches.

Despite never having tested the formerly nonexistent play in practice, Buckius, a junior end who was playing only his second varsity football game, was certain it would work in a key situation in Friday’s game against Rockford.

It worked well enough to result in a 35-yard touchdown pass that helped pave the way for the Red Arrows’ 21-10 victory over the Rams in a O-K conference crossover before over 5,000 fans at Lowell’s Bob Perry Field.

The touchdown wiped out a 10-7 deficit with 4:38 left in the third quarter. Buckius said the team had never run the play in practice, and that it was devised by the Lowell coaches in the press box on Friday. It was then called down to the coaches on the sidelines, who in turn sketched out what was to happen to the players.

No problem, said Buckius, who was called up to varsity for last year’s state tournament run but didn’t get in a game.

"It wasn’t an official play; we did it on the fly," he said. "Our offensive coaches understand what (Rockford) was doing and I just got open. We have confidence in the coaches in what they know."

The pass came from junior quarterback David Kruse, who finished off the win for the now 2-0 Red Arrows with a 5-yard touchdown run with 7:49 left in the game.

The rest was left to a young defense which stopped the Rams from scoring a touchdown five times after Rockford moved inside the Red Arrows 40-yard line. Linebacker Nate Stephens, one of just three returning starters on defense, said the defense played better as the game progressed.

"We look for those moments," he said. "Late in the third and fourth quarters we tend to step up and pull away. We know we’re going to have to grow up fast."

It’s the second consecutive game where the Red Arrows played markedly better in the second half. Last week Lowell pulled away in the final two quarters to beat De La Salle 36-19 in its opener.

Against the Rams, Lowell rushed for just 31 yards and had less than 100 total yards in the first two quarters. Youth has much to do with those numbers on a team which had to replace 19 full and part-time starters. Against Rockford, Kruse wound up hitting 6 of 21 passes for 162 yards while adding 106 on the ground. 

"We’ve got some young kids, some new kids, and they were a little nervous against a team like Rockford. But the kids settled in," Lowell coach Noel Dean said. "We keep working and staying the course.

Rockford turned a pair of interceptions into a 10-7 lead late in the first half. The first came from Josh Patterson and was eventually turned into a 1-yard touchdown by Nick Isley that tied the game 7-7 with five minutes left in the first half. The second by Marcus Remtema wound up in a 31-yard field goal by Sam Corey with 1:14 to go in the quarter.

Lowell had taken a 7-0 lead on an 18-yard interception by Sterling Anderson at the 7:50 mark of the first quarter.

"We’re seeing the effects of a young team," Dean said. "Playing Rockford is tough on them, but the defense was marvelous. We changed a few schemes (at the half) and we’re going to have to be unconventional. We’ve got to let the kids play and make their own decisions."

Rockford coach Ralph Munger, whose team was playing its first game after forfeiting its opener to Saline due to a team illness, had little to say about the Rams dropping its first two games for the first time since 1978, 

"Lowell did a good job," he said. "Our kids hung in there for a while."