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Lowell’s 42-35 semi final O.T win, a game for the ages

With the Division 2 semi final game on the line and less than a minute to play, while precariously holding on to a three-point lead, Lowell defensive coordinator Jason Katt replaced a lineman with a “cover kid.”

Walled Lake Western, having already blistered the Lowell secondary for over 325 yards, provided reason enough for Katt’s switch.

Lowell pressures Walled Lake Western's quarterback during Saturday's Division 2 semi final.

“We needed him,” Katt said following the Red Arrows’ thrilling 42-35 overtime win against Walled Lake Western.

The Warriors did manage 40 yards through the air in their final drive in regulation to set up a 47-yard, game-tying, field goal by quarterback/kicker Kyle Barnbard.

“That was one of the ugliest kicks, but it was good,” said Lowell football coach Noel Dean.

Lowell, on its second play in overtime scored on a 13-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass from Gabe Dean to Blake Lyman.

With an extra cover man, Lowell’s defense then forced four consecutive Warrior incomplete passes in securing a game-for-the ages victory.

“It was the ugliest most exciting win I can remember,” Dean said. ‘We’re glad to get a chance to play another game.”

That game will be Lowell’s third consecutive trip to the Division 2 State Championship. The game will be played at Ford Field on Friday against Birmingham Brother Rice. a 27-26 winner over Detroit Martin Luther King.

Gabe Dean follows his blocks against a stout Warrior defense.

It will mark the Red Arrows fifth time playing for a state title since 2002. Lowell is 3-1 in its previous four trips. One of those trips (2002 – Lowell’s first) resulted in a 31-14 win over Birmingham Brother Rice.

In Saturday’s win over Walled Lake Western, the two teams combined for 64 second half points.

“i didn’t expect that many points to be scored, but both teams defend the run really well and started throwing the ball in the second half,” said Warrior coach Mike Zdebski. “We knew Dean could throw the ball and Lowell’s got some skilled kids who can catch the ball. They made one more play than we did today.”

Lowell trailed 32-28, following a five-yard touchdown run by Alex Buchanan with five-and-a-half minutes to play when the Red Arrows marched 80 yards in 13 plays with Dean connecting with Lyman on a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Lyman, for the day, caught seven passes fro 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Joshua Addington falls just short of the end zone.

“I’ve never played in a game like this,” Lyman said. “It was a battle. There were a lot of momentum changes. When you’re down it’s important to stay focused and move on to the next play.”

Lowell trailed 7-6 at halftime before grabbing its first lead of the game early in the third quarter on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Dean to Jeff Houston.

Dean finished the game connecting on 15-of-21 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns.

“It was a crazy game. We knew they were a tough team. We stuck together and  had an amazing team effort,” Gabe Dean said. “Credit our offensive line and the great routes our receivers ran.”

The Red Arrows increased its lead to 14 midway through the third quarter when Dean busted into the end zone from the one yard line.

The Warriors responded in quick fashion as Barnhard hooked up with xx xx on a 42-yard touchdown pass.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lowell fumbled the ball, setting the Warriors up at the Lowell 24. Four plays later it was Brent Zdebski scoring on a three-yard scoring pass. The extra point was blocked and Walled Lake trailed 21-20.

Lowell answered moments later when Joshua Addington busted through the Warrior defensive front and raced 49 yards for the score, giving the Red Arrows a 28-20 advantage.

With its win, Lowell advances to the state final against Birmingham Brother Rice.

“I was running scared,” Addington quipped later. “This was an unbelievable game.”

Walled Lake cut the lead to two (28-26) early in the fourth quarter on a 26-yard pass-and-catch from Barnhard to Carn Vieuax. The Warrior receiver caught 10 passes for 154 yards.

Lowell, who rushed for over 300 yards against Fenton a week ago, struggled to amass 70 against Walled Lake Western.

“We built this team to run the football, but they are a lot bigger team and we knew we’d have to pass the ball. We liked the matchups. The stats are a reverse of last week,” Dean said. “They’re an exceptional team and for us to score 42 against them when they haven’t been giving up many points is something.”

Lowell’s only touchdown of the first half came on a one-yard run by Dean.

Walled Lake grabbed the early lead, scoring on its opening drive when Barnhard found Connor Ruby on a 21-yard touchdown reception.