LOWELL, Mich (WOOD) — The Lowell football team was on the verge of going down by double-digits late in the third quarter of Friday night’s Division 2 regional final against visiting Forest Hills Central.
Junior defensive back Connor Douma came to the rescue and helped turn the tide for the Red Arrows in a 22-19 come-from-behind victory at Bob Perry Field.
The Red Arrows stayed unbeaten at 12-0 and will face the winner of Walled Lake Western and Fenton in next week’s state semifinals.
Forest Hills Central led 19-15 in the third quarter when Douma intercepted senior quarterback Tanner Hallock in the back of the end zone.
The pick stalled a drive that could’ve widened the Rangers’ advantage.
“It was a momentum changer,” Douma said. “Their momentum went right down and ours went way up. Our offense started kicking it in and we kept going.”
Douma wrestled the ball away from the FHC receiver.
“He had his hands on it, but then Nate (Stephens) got a little chip on him and I grabbed it,” Douma said. “It all worked out.”
Lowell coach Noel Dean said the play was a key turning point in the game.
“We were in trouble of going down two scores,” Dean said. “We were in a bad spot, but thanks to Connor we got in a good spot in a hurry. He’s a little scrapper, and we’re a lot better team when he’s healthy. To have him be able to make a play, especially because he missed four games during the middle of the year, and to be a part of the win, I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The interception was the first of three Forest Hills Central turnovers in the second half that enabled
Lowell to seize the momentum.
The Red Arrows opened the fourth quarter with a 16-yard touchdown run by quarterback David Kruse to
grab a three-point lead.
Lowell’s defense did the rest.
It pounced on a Rangers’ fumble at midfield, and then senior Hayden Barry-Coulier intercepted Hallock for a second time with 3:28 remaining in the game.
The Red Arrows didn’t let Forest Hills Central get the ball back and sealed the game on the ground
with a pair of first downs.
“We made a couple of nice plays in the second half and those were huge because they are not an easy team to beat,” Dean said. “Theyhave four or five athletes that will give anybody matchup nightmares. It’s a good team, but I’m so proud of the kids and the coaches because they just worked and evolved.”
The lead went back and forth throughout the first half.
Kruse went 41 yards for the first score of the game, but Forest Hills Central answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Hallock to Bryce Clay.
Kruse scored again on a 2-yard run to give the Red Arrows a 12-7 lead after the first quarter.
Hallock hooked up with Sal Sidebotham on fourth and goal to bring to within 15-13 at halftime.
The Rangers took a 19-15 lead on their first possession of the second half when Hallock connected with Jack Uecker from 9-yards out.
Kruse said the defense played a vital role in the program’s 8th regional championship in the last 15 years.
“Our defense did an awesome job today and really got our offense pumped up,” he said. “It was a huge momentum swing for us with those turnovers and it helped us a lot.”