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Lowell rolls GR Christian 49-31 in district championship; next up undefeated Zeeland West

A second inauspicious start in as many weeks concluded with another happy ending Friday night at Lowell as the Red Arrows earned a Division 3 District Championship with a 49-31 win over Grand Rapids Christian.

Lowell football coach Noel Dean described the 2014 post season opponents as a gauntlet of championship programs.

“Last week it was East Grand Rapids, tonight Grand Rapids Christian,” Dean explained. In his matter of fact approach the Lowell coach warned of a third, next week’s opponent,  Zeeland West (11-0), a 30-28 winner over Stevensville Lakeshore.

“i’ve known coach John Shillitto for a long time. I also know his style of football has worked at every school he has coached,” Dean said.

The Lowell coach will take a band of Red Arrows, who may have played its best football of the season in its 17-point victory over the Eagles, into the regional.

“We’ve been running the ball better lately and tonight we did it against a club that has defended the run well this year. Tonight, we also mixed in some timely passes,” Dean explained.

Lowell rolled up 212 yards on the ground. Junior Max Dean led the way with 131 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Ryan Stevens added 81 by foot while throwing for 184 yards. Stevens was 9-of-11 with three of those completions going for touchdowns.

The catch of all catches was recorded by junior Gabe Steed, who with an extended right arm, snared a pass out of the cold thick air while barely slowing his stride and raced 65-yards for a game-tying (14-14) touchdown.

Dean smiled and shrugged his shoulders when asked if Steed’s remarkable reception was lucky and not good or good and not lucky. “Gabe seems to have really picked up his game over the last couple of weeks.”

The Eagles opened the game with its own remarkable reception when Qi’antae Ewing threw back across the field to quarterback Lukas Thompson who then raced 90 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Lowell went three and  out on its first possession, but caught a break when Grand Rapids Christian fumbled the punt.

The turnover fueled a Red Arrow 47-yard touchdown drive capped off by an eight-yard run by Dean.

The Eagles grabbed the lead back on its next possession with a 10-yard pass-and-catch from Thompson to Patrick Hall. It would be the final touchdown Grand Rapids Christian’s offense would score against the Lowell defense.

Withe game tied at 14-14, Lowell recorded three more touchdown before halftime. The first came on a 39-yard scoring strike from Stevens to Josh Branagan. With just under eight minutes to play in the first half, Dean busted in from the two yard line. Then, with less than two minutes to play in the half it was Stevens to Branagan, again, this time on a 25-yard pass play.

The only second quarter points the Eagles tallied were on a 33-yard field goal.

Grand Rapids Christian scored second half touchdowns on a fumble recovery and a 63-yard return by Ewing. With less than five minutes to play Eagle linebacker Jack Bates picked a teammate’s fumble out of the air and raced 31 yards for Christian’s final score of the night.

Lowell’s second half touchdown came on runs of 29 and 11 yards by Dean.

The Red Arrow defense held the Eagles to 101 yards on the ground and 166 through the air.