59ers score early, bedevil Lowell in 36-15 victory, clinch NW Crossroads Conference title

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith



Andrean captains Evan Satoski (32), Cam Williams (6) and Zack Merrill (7) stand at the 50-yard-line for the pre-game coin toss. (All photos by Mark Smith)
Andrean star linebacker Cam Williams eyes Lowell quarterback Ethan Igras (16) in first half action.
Andrean quarterback Zack Merrill (7) looks to throw over the Lowell defense in second quarter action.
Lowell center Jake Steward (55) checks out the enemy before he snaps the ball to start a Lowell play.
Lowell linebacker Aaron DuBord (48) tries to put hands on Andrean's Tyler Thomas (2)  early in the Lowell-Andrean game.
Lowell's Trevor Matovina (72) moves in to tackle Andrean's Zack Merrill (7) after a bad snap on a 59er punt attempt in third quarter.
Lowell's Tyler Wildman (32) tries to get by Andrean's Evan Satoski (32) in the Devils game at Andrean Friday.
Andrean and Zack Merrill (7) try to put some misdirection action on Lowell, but end Blake Jansky (44) concentrates on the 59er quarterback.
Andrean's Ryan Walsh (8) chases Lowell quarterback Ethan Igras (16) early in Friday's game in Merrillville.
Lowell's Chandler Austgen (78) closes in on 59er quarterback Zack Merrill (7) in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) Matchup last Friday.
A future Andrean 59ers checks out the field with mom during halftime of the Lowell-Andrean game.
Andrean lit up the scoreboard early early and the 59ers went on to the NCC title with what ended up as a 36-15 win over Lowell. (All photos by Mark Smith)

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Revised: October 08, 2018 .

Team 1 2 3 4 F
LOWELL (6-2) 0 7 8 0 15
ANDREAN (7-1) 15 7 7 7 36

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 - 68 degrees, overcast (at kick-off), Northwest Crossroads Conference game at MERRILLVILLE, Ind.

1st Qtr: ANDREAN (2-0) Lowell punt snap out of the end zone. 9:19 left.
ANDREAN (9-0) Tyler Thomas, 36-yard pass from Zack Merrill. 51-yard drive, 6 plays. JJ Wadas kick. 6:32 left.
ANDREAN (15-0) Andrew Benton, 1-yard run, 39-yard drive, 6 plays after fumble recovery by Evan Satoski. Kick blocked by Rylee Torrence. 1:59 left.

2nd Qtr: LOWELL (7-15) Tyler Wildman, 20-yard run. 98-yard drive, 11 plays. Nate Gard kick. 5:23 left.
ANDREAN (22-7) Nick Flesher, 94-yard kickoff return. JJ Wadas kick. 5:07 left.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (22-15)
John Alessia, 30-yard pass from Ethan Igras. 80-yard drive, 7 plays. Nate Gard kick. 3:52 left.
ANDREAN (29-15) Tyler Thomas, 51-yard pass from Zack Merrill. 73-yard drive, 4 plays. JJ Wadas kick. 1:50 left.
4th Qtr: ANDREAN (36-15) Zack Merrill, 1-yard run. 15-yard drive, 6 plays after an interception by Zack Kammer. JJ Wadas kick. 2:15 left.

LOWELL (36 carries, 155 yards, one fumble, one TD):
Ethan Igras (QB) 12 carries, 28 yards (2 sacks minus-10) Tyler Wildman (HB) 23 carries, 127 yards, TD; Brad Goldsmith (HB) (1-0 yards)

ANDREAN (21 carries, 70 yards, 2 TDs, 0 fumbles): Riley Walsh (HB) 9 carries, 24 yards; Zack Merrill (QB) 8 carries, 31 yards (1 sack, minus-2 yards) : Andrew Burton (HB) 4 carries, 15 yards.


LOWELL: Ethan Igras (QB) 10 of 23, 124 yards, one TDs, one INT;
ANDREAN: Zach Merrill (QB) 12 of 24, 188 yards, 0 INTs, 2 TDs.


LOWELL: John Alessia (WR) 5 catches, 83 yards, TD yards; Shawn Mooney (HB) 1-6 yards; Mike Sanfratello (WR) 1-13 yards; Tyler Wildman (HB) 3-23 yards.
ANDREAN: Cam Thornton (HB) 1-4 yards; Tyler Thomas (WR) 5-115 yards, 2 TDs; Nick Flesher (WR) 6-69 yards.


ANDREAN (1) Zack Kammer (1)

ANDREAN (1) Evan Satoski

LOWELL: 279 yards, 13 first downs, 2 turnovers;
ANDREAN: 252 yards, 9 first downs, 0 turnovers.

MERRILLVILLE (10-05-2018) When I looked at the play-by-play record of each quarter of the Lowell-Andrean game and added everything up I thought I’d surely made a mistake. Going over the four quarters two or three times it just didn’t make sense.

In the 36-15 Andrean victory over Lowell last Friday, the ‘numbers’ said Lowell outgained the 59ers in yards gained from scrimmage. My totals said 272-258, but I must’ve miscounted somewhere. The 59ers won by 21 points.

But then the official totals said Lowell 279-252. How could that be?

Class 3A No. 5 Andrean (7-1) led from the opening moments and the Class 4A No. 6 Devils (6-2) never got within seven points after the first five minutes.

The numbers were misleading. Andrean was ready to roll from the opening kickoff and Lowell got started after they fell behind 15-0. The 59ers (7-1) won what will probably be the deciding game in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) season with less than their best.

Lowell wasn't bad, but they weren’t ready for this test.

“We wanted this one really bad,” said Andrean’s third year coach Chris Skinner, who saw his team beat Lowell for the first time.

“Lowell has gotten us the last couple of years. They always have a good team. No surprise that the conference championship came down to this week. It wasn’t always pretty for us, but we got the job done.”

Lowell gained one first down after the opening kickoff, but when they had to punt the snap from center bounced back in the general direction of punter Nate Gard. The ball bounced behind Gard and the Lowell junior kicked it out of the back of the end zone to give Andrean a two-point safety (instead of letting the 59ers recover for a TD) with just 2:41 gone in the game.

Lowell kicked off after the safety and Andrean scored quickly in six plays. The TD was a 36-yard pass from senior quarterback Zack Merrill to wide receiver Tyler Thomas down the home sideline.

Three plays after the kickoff, Lowell tried a pitchout, but the toss from senior QB Ethan Igras was off line and Evan Satoski recovered at the Lowell 39 yard line.

Andrean quickly zipped through the foggy, humid October night for a second TD, a 1-yard run by Andrew Benton, taking a 15-0 lead with 5:15 still left in the first quarter.

“It was awhile before we thought we belonged in this ball game,” said Lowell coach Keith Kilmer. “But once we did, we did. Some our kids were ready to play in a championship ballgame and some of them weren’t.”

Trailing by 15, Lowell mounted one of their best drives of the season. Igras was 4-for-4 passing, he ran 28 yards to the Andrean 20-yard-line and Tyler Wildman ran 20 yards for the first Devils’ TD of the night just 5:23 before halftime.

But on the following kickoff Flesher (6-0, 175), a smooth running two-sport sophomore star, zipped down the home sidelines 94 yards to make it 22-7 at the half.

“We played well at times,” said Kilmer. We go 98 yards to score and then we jog down the field on the kickoff return. Let ‘em take it all the way back. Let them run right by you.”

Lowell held the 59ers to just one first down in the third quarter and they drove 98 yards to cut the lead to 22-15 on a 30-yard pass from Igras to John Alessia and two-point Igras-to-Alessia conversion.

But Andrean quickly expanded the lead. Merrill, who has 23 TD passes in eight games, hit Flesher for gains of five and 17 yards. He then fired a strike down the visitors sidelines to Thomas behind the Lowell defense for a 51-yard TD with 1:50 left in the third quarter to make the score 29-15.

Andrean fumbled a punt snap at the 59er 43-yard-line with 11:01 to play, but Lowell turned the ball over on downs at the 59er 48-yard-line four plays later.

Merrill scored the final TD himself on a QB sneak late in the fourth quarter.

Andrean's 36 points equals the total the Red Devils allowed in their first seven games combined and it was no secret why that happened. Losing speaks for itself, but Merrill (6-1, 185) is not only the most skilled QB Lowell has seen, he’s also better than any QB Lowell will see in the upcoming post-season Class 4A playoffs.

But Andrean did punt five times. Facing a team with more experience, speed and skill on the perimeter, the Devils didn’t give up even when the 59ers pushed them to the point of quitting.

“At some point you’ve got to make plays,” said Kilmer “Not tonight. We weren’t the better team.”

DEVIL NOTES: Lowell all-purpose player Shawn Mooney was injured early in the third quarter Friday and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Mooney was carried off the field with his head and neck restrained as the players, coaches and fans looked on in silence. The senior wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner apparently did not suffer a permanent injury and should recover fully.

Andrean’s seven game winning streak is the longest for the 59ers since they won the first 14 games of the 2014 season. Andrean lost 49-27 to Tri-West in the 2014 Class 3A championship game.

It was a good weekend for Andrean all around. They drew winless Benton Central (0-8) in the quarterfinals of Class 3A Sectional 25. Andrean and 3A No. 1 West Lafayette (8-0) are in opposite brackets and could not meet until Nov. 3.

Lowell will open the Class 4A Sectional 17 playoffs at Highland (4-4) in a rematch of a Sept. 21 game won by Lowell at Highland 7-0.

Tyler Wildman gained an official 123 yards on 23 carries, giving him 854 yards on 191 carries this season. In 2017, Wildman gained 885 yards on 189 carries.

Ethan Igras’ TD pas to John Alessia was Lowell's first TD pass of the 2018 season.

Coach: Keith Kilmer, 71-32 in 9th year at school
Aug. 17 at Crown Point 6A W 17 7    
Aug. 24   Portage 6A L 3 7    
Sep. 1   Hammond Morton 4A W 38 0    
Sep. 7 at Hammond Clark 3A W 51 0    
Sep. 14   Kankakee Valley 4A © W 13 10    
Sep. 21 at Highland 4A © W 7 0    
Sep. 28   Munster 5A © W 21 12    
Oct. 5 at Andrean 3A © L 15 36    
Oct. 12   Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    

Coach: Chris Skinner, 20-11 in 3rd year at school
Aug. 17 at Merrillville 6A L 14 20    
Aug. 24 at Hanover Central 3A W 24 0    
Aug. 31 at New Prairie 4A W 44 28    
Sep. 7   Hammond 4A W 59 0    
Sep. 14 at Hobart 4A © W 41 7    
Sep. 21 at Munster 5A © W 52 0    
Sep. 28 at Kankakee Valley 4A © W 52 21    
Oct. 5   Lowell 4A © W 36 15    
Oct. 12   Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    

  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Andrean 4-0 181 43 7-  1 322 91 Won 7
Hobart 3-1 115 73 7-  1 215 116 Won 3
Lowell 3-1 56 58 6-  2 165 72 Lost 1
Highland 2-2 64 74 4-  4 173 117 Won 1
Kankakee Valley 0-4 56 116 2-  6 116 204 Lost 4
Munster 0-4 44 152 1-  7 108 242 Lost 5
Friday, Oct. 5
Andrean 36, Lowell 15 ©
Highland 20, Kankakee Valley 19 ©
Hobart 49, Munster 12 ©
Friday, Oct. 12
Highland at Andrean ©, 7 pm
Hobart at Lowell ©, 7 pm
Kankakee Valley at Munster ©, 7 pm
©conference game