The win was described as a program changer.
It’s D-1 scholarship rich defensive line was a game changer.
Grand Rapids Christian’s 45-21 win over Lowell Friday night at Red Arrow Stadium very well could also signal a realignment of power in the the O-K White.
“The last couple of years I thought we were as talented as Lowell, but physically they were just beating us down,” said Eagles head football coach Don Fellows.
An off-season commitment to getting stronger rendered powerful results in a battle between the third ranked team in Division 3 and the second ranked team in Division 2.
While the Eagles front four kept Lowell’s big play running and passing games under wraps an offense led by seniors Travis Kraai (quarterback), Kavon Frazier (running back), and sophomore wide out Drake Harris accounted for nearly 400 yards.
More than the yards, it was Christian’s big play ability that hampered Lowell’s effort in securing a fifth win.
Kraai was 10-for-21 for 234 yards. Four of those passing attempts went for 30 or more yards. The Eagles second play from scrimmage, a harbinger of things to come, was a Kraai completion to Frazier for a 68-yard touchdown.
Frazier not only caught a touchdown pass, but he also rushed for touchdowns of six and 12 yards.
Harris caught six passes for 112 yards.
“This was a pretty big win for us. We didn’t worry about our past with Lowell we just prepared and focused hard. Everybody did their own job tonight,” Kraai explained.
Trailing 21-13 at half time, Lowell had an opportunity at the start of the third quarter to change the direction of the game.
On Christian’s first snap from center in the third quarter, the ball sailed past Kraai, bouncing all the way down near the goal line before the QB recovered it and was then tackled by the Red Arrows. Lowell thought it had a safety but the ruling on the field was forward progress was stopped at the one yard line.
The Eagles were forced to punt from deep in its end zone, setting Lowell up at the Christian 30 yard line on its first possession of the second half. On its first play, Gabe Dean hooked up with Luke Bigham on a 14-yard pass, however, in a effort to pick up some extra yards, Bigham was stripped of the ball and Chrisitan’s DJ Vander Baan recovered.
Lowell’s defense rose up again and held the Eagles to three plays and a punt, but Lowell failed to capitalize as its second possession of the third quarter fizzled at the Christian 27.
The visitors then punctuated its quest for victory as they scored on their next two possessions. Frazier made it 28-13 on a 12-yard power sweep and then Kraai found Christian Benn in the corner of the end zone on a 18-yard touchdown pass to close out the quarter with a 35-13 advantage.
The Eagles added a 38-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to extend its lead to 38-13.
Both clubs added a fourth quarter touchdown. Lowell’s came on an 11-yard pass from Dean to Reed Stormzand. Grand Rapids Christian punched one in with a little over a minute to play with Christian VanDeBerg busting in from the three yard line.
“Defensively, we wanted to make Lowell sustain long drives. Dean is a great runner, but I think people under appreciate how good a thrower he is ,” Fellows said.
The win improves the Eagles to 5-0 and sets them atop the O-K White in a tie with Northview and East Grand Rapids.
“I can’t put a word to this,” Fellows said. “This is a program changer. It definitely validates what we are doing. I have some good players, and they are buying into the system and coaches.”
Lowell falls to 4-1 and will now have to find a way to recover in time for a trip to East Grand Rapids (4-1) on Friday night.
“I’m not sure what went wrong. They played a great game and deserved to win,” Lowell football coach Noel Dean said. We also had a lot of penalties and that’s not like us.”
The Lowell coach was also impressed with Harris. “He’s an incredible player and Christian had a lot of big plays tonight.”