Red Devils come from behind with 21-point 4th Qtr to beat KV 28-21

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Cam Stojancevich (17) and Reec Ison (8) bring the 'Old Milk Can' onto the field at Lowell Friday. The 'Can' goes to the winner of the annual Lowell-KV game. (All photos by Mark Smith)
Lowell junior Spencer Barta (67) closes in on KV quarterback Eli Carden (11) Friday. Carden threw two first half TD passes for the Kougars.
Lowell's Kyler Newcom (7) and Riley Bank (19) lead the charge against Eli Carden (11) and Kankakee Valley Friday. KV led 21-0 at halftime.
KV kicker Markus Ritchie (30) booms an extra point early in the Lowell-KV game. The Kougars had not trailed in any game this season until the final minute at Lowell Friday.
Lowell's Caleb Miranda (60) tries to grab KV quarterback Eli Carden (11) as the Kougars battle the Devils in Lowell.
Lowell junior Joe Heuer (21) uses his blockers against Kankakee Valley. Heuer ran for the game-tying and game-winning TDs in the fourth quarter.
Kankakee Valley's big offensive line including big boys Dyllin Bolton (6-3, 275) and Ivan Wright (6-0, 275) helped the Kougar offense control the first half last week in Lowell.
Lowell's Michael Havel (80) grabbed a 53-yard touchdown pass from QB Cam Stojancevich in the fourth quarter, rallying the Red Devils.
Lowell linebacker Kyler Newcom (7) hurries KV quarterback Eli Carden (11) in the annual Lowell-Kankakee Valley battle last week.
Lowell's homecoming didn't go well early on, but the Red Devil sidelines got to be a lot happier place as the night went on.
Lowell's 2020 Homecoming queen Isabela Vasko poses for the camera at halftime of last week's Lowell-Kankakee Valley game. Red Devil football player Adam Bank was named Homecoming king. Adam was unavailable for photos at halftime because he was concentrating on beating the Kougars.
Lowell QB Cam Stojancevich (17) holds the 'Old Milk Can,' the traditional prize for the winner of the annual Lowell-Kankakee Valley football game. The Red Devils rallied late to win 28-21. (All photos by Mark Smith)

Copyright © 2020 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: September 30, 2020 .

Team 1 2 3 4 F
Kankakee Valley (5-1, 1-1 NCC) 7 14 0 0 21
LOWELL (5-0, 1-0 NCC) 0 0 7 21 28

Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 - 70 degrees (at kick-off), Northwest Crossroads Conference game at LOWELL, Ind.

1st Qtr: KV (7-0) Markus Ritchie, 25-yard pass from Eli Carden. 73-yard drive, 6 plays. Markus Ritchie kick. 9:43 left.
2nd Qtr: KV (14-0) Cade Capps, 2-yard run, pass form Eli Carden. 73-yard drive, 16 plays. Markus Ritchie kick. 11:50 left.
KV (21-0) Markus Ritchie, 40-yard pass form Eli Carden. 63-yard drive, 6 plays. Markus Ritchie kick. 0:12 left.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (7-21)
Joe Heuer, 98-yard kickoff return. Caden Britton kick. 11:47 left.
4th Qtr: LOWELL (14-21) Michael Havel-Ericks, 53-yard pass from Cam Stojancevich. 65-yard drive. 2 plays. Caden Britton kick. 9:29 left.
LOWELL (21-21)
Joe Heuer, 11-yard run. 65-yard drive, 5 plays. Caden Britton kick. 5:11 left.
LOWELL (21-28)
Joe Heuer, 60-yard run. 89-yard drive, 6 plays. Caden Britton kick. 0:39 left.

KV (40 carries, 137 yards, one fumble, one TD): Eli Carden (QB) 7 carries, 27 yards, Cade Capps (HB) 16-50 yards, Logan Parks (HB) 16-54 yards, Ryan Tinnel (HB) 1-6 yards;

LOWELL (25 carries, 141 yards, 2 TDs, one fumble): Joe Heuer (HB) 23 carries, 136 yards, 2 TDs; Cam Stojancevich (QB) 2-7 yards carries, 287 yards, 5 TDs.


KV: Eli Carden (QB) 11 of 26, 172 yards, 2 TDs, 2 interceptions;
LOWELL: Cam Stoyancevich (QB) 4 of 12, 102 yards, one TD, one interception.


KV: Markus Ritchie (WR) 6 catches, 94 yards, 2 TDs; Caleb Swallow (WR) , 3-67 yards, Tyler Feddeler (TE) 1-5 yards; Logan Parks (HB)1-1 yard.
LOWELL : Michael Havel-Ericks (WR) 2 catches, 61 yards, TD; Adam Bank (WR) 1-29 yards; Joey Hennessey (WR) 1-12 yards.


KV: 299 yards, 15 first downs, 3 turnovers;
LOWELL: 243 yards, 14 first downs, 2 turnovers.

LOWELL (09-25-2018) When you write the book on 21st Century Lowell high school football, this will be the night that folks think you made up. But a lot of us were there. We saw it.

Totally dominated and buried for a half, trailing by 21 points and seemingly resting in peace against an undefeated team, the Devils were born again Friday night, scoring 28 second half points to steal their battle-of-unbeaten teams from rival Kankakee Valley 28-21 in front of a near-capacity crowd down by Route 2.

In the stunning sequel to the Devils’ 21-14 come-from-behind victory at KV in 2019, Lowell was outscored 21-0 and outgained 230 yards to 36 in a first half where it appeared as if the Devils had somewhat given up on this late September summer night. But somehow the home team, playing without as many as 10 Covid-19 sidelined players, rose from seemingly certain defeat to turn back their fired-up neighbor and set a standard for comebacks that future Lowell teams may talk about for years to come.

“I thought about last year’s game,” said junior Joe Heuer, who scored three TDs in the Red Devil rally. “It was 14-0 at the half (at KV last season) and we came back and scored 21. Being around these guys there’s a ‘never quit’ attitude. It's conditioning. But just being around the guys. We believe we can (come back).”

“I think our schedule helps,” said Lowell coach Keith Kilmer. “And we’ve been through these kind of games. When you’re learning how to win, sometimes these games can fall through the cracks. A team that’s on the rise like KV is. We didn’t do anything different. We just kept believing. We just kept playing.”

“We ran three plays in the first quarter and I think we ran seven plays in the second quarter. Ten plays? You can't get into anything you want to do.”

If this was a boxing match, the referee might have stopped it in the first half because Lowell was getting beaten down.

KV scored so fast after the opening kickoff, a lot of fans hadn’t even sat down yet. Kougar QB Eli Carden hit a 38-yard pass to junior Caleb Swallow on the first play of the game. Three plays after that, Carden, a 6-foot-3 senior, fired a 25-yard TD pass to senior receiver Markus Ritchie and it was 7-0 KV with 9:43 still left in the opening quarter. The Kougars quickly stopped Lowell the first time the Devils got the ball and KV then took off on a 16-play, 64-yard drive to make it 14-0 on a two-yard run by halfback Logan Parks on the first play of the second period.

A near-capacity crowd on a cool 65-degree night was watching Lowell get pushed around on their home field. Kankakee Valley (5-1) outgained the Devils in total yards 127-0 in the first quarter.

KV quarterback Eli Carden was 9 of 13 in the half for 123 yards and two TDs. Senior Kougar wide receiver Markus Ritchie caught five passes for 95 yards, again, in the first half alone. It was 21-0 when the Lowell walked off the field at halftime looking somewhat defeated against the bigger, more experienced visitors.

KV may have made a mistake starting the second half. Ritchie, who is also KV’s kicker, often boots the ball into the end zone denying the other team a return. But even though Lowell’s top running back Joe Heuer was back inside the 5-yard-line to return the kick, Ritchie booted it deep. Heuer caught the ball at the 2-yard line and went 98 yards down the home sideline to get Lowell on the board. Minutes later Lowell linebacker Kyler Newcomb intercepted a Carden pass at the Red Devil 3-yard-line and the game started to change. KV’s Cade Capps blocked a Lowell punt late in the third quarter, but Ritchie missed a 39-yard field goal with 1:51 left in the third period.

The Kougars still led with 10 minutes to play when Lowell got the ball at their own 35-yard-line. The Devils then got out of character. On first down, the usually run-happy Devils got a 12-yard pass from QB Cam Stoyancevich to senior Joe Hennessey. On the next play, another first down pass, maybe his best of the year, 53-yards down the home sideline from Stojancevich to 6-foot-3 senior Michael Havel-Ericks who ran away to score, cutting the lead to 21-14 with 9:29 to play.

By this time, KV was feeling the heat. Three plays gained two yards and the Kougars punted to the Lowell 35. On 2nd-and-7, Stojancevich fired a 30-yard pass to senior Adam Bank who was stopped at the KV 32. Three plays later, Heuer scored on an 11-yard run to tie the game with 5:21 to play.

By this time, it became obvious to the 2,000 or so in attendance that we were watching a special game.

On 3rd-and-3 from the Lowell 41-yard line, Stojancevich was sacked and he fumbled with Tyler Feddeler recovering at the Lowell 24-yard-line. Ritchie is a top kicker and he could have easily booted the go-ahead field goal from there. But he never got the chance. On 3rd-and 5, Lowell’s Reec Ison forced a fumble and Riley Bank grabbed it at the Red Devil 21-yard line.

Lowell (5-0) then became the traditional ‘runnin’ Red Devils’ they have been for a generation. The Devils gave the ball to Heuer on every play and the 5-foot-7, 170-pound thunderball-style runner gained five, seven, 16 and then 60 yards to put the home team ahead with 39 seconds left in the game. In maybe 35 years of watching Northwest Indiana high school football, I have never seen them come from 21 points behind in the second half to win a varsity football game in regulation time.

“When you’ve got an athlete like Joey Heuer,” said Kilmer. “Good things can happen. The only thing we said at halftime was ‘We just spotted them 21 points. The only thing we can do now is play every play’. Red Devil football players don’t quit. But at halftime, our body language was crap. Everything we’ve gone through the last six, seven eight days (with the Covid-19 postponement of the Hobart game). I’d love to say it was great offensive and defensive adjustments but kids are kids. They rose to the occasion. We got some calls and we made some plays.”

Lowell’s defensive coaches and players did an impressive job of finally shutting down a Kankakee Valley team that hadn’t been shut down all year. KV, which had scored 233 points in the first 5-½ games, was shut out in the final two quarters at Lowell.

“In the beginning, said Lowell linebacker Kyler Newcom, who had eight tackles and a pass interception, “They (the Kougars) were really running at the strong side. We had to make some adjustments at halftime to account for that. Our coaches did an amazing job with that. The adjustments really helped out.”

“Other than that, I don’t know. We just played with a lot of heart. It showed our character. I think they (KV) played their heart out. They’re really good. But confidence and momentum are really big.”

The Kougars who, not surprisingly, left the field quickly at the end of the game, lost to Lowell for the sixth consecutive year and the back-to-back defeats after leading 14-0 down and 21-0 had to make the ride back to Jasper County a little quiet.

Kilmer was happy with the comeback victory, but he’d like a little less drama.

“That was a ‘week one win,’” he said walking off the field. “We made some ‘week one’ mistakes. Body language was terrible. I hate poor body language.”

“That was all we talked about at halftime. Attitude. Attitude adjustment.”

DEVIL NOTES: Lowell is 5-0 for the first time since 2017 when they went 8-0 on the regular season. Since the start of the 2017 season, Lowell is now 19-2 at home.

Lowell senior defensive back Reec Ison was injured late in the fourth quarter. Ison was in on 11 tackles in the game and he was credited with the ‘forced fumble’ that gave Lowell the ball with the game tied 21-21.

Lowell may never have come from 21 points behind to win a football game before last Friday night. Red Devil football records are not complete for their 100-year history (it is documented that Lowell began playing football in 1898), but the Devils have been a low-scoring team for most of their history. Lowell didn’t have a winning football season from 1967 to 1991 and in the early days of football, teams didn’t score 30 and 40 points very often.

In the last three decades, I cannot find a time when Lowell trailed by 21 points and rallied to win that game. The 2005 state championship team trailed Fort Wayne South 14-0 in the 4A Northern Semistate at the half and won 16-14. And, as many of you may remember, the 2005 Devils also trailed three-time defending champion Roncalli 21-7 at the half and 27-14 with 10 minutes to play before winning the 4A state championship game 28-27.

Lowell’s Joe Heuer carried the ball 23 times for 136 yards. For the season, he has run 101 times in four games for 554 yards, which means he’s been hit at least 101 times. How do you get ready to get hit that much?

“You get in the weight room,” he said. “You have to. It's all mental. Taking those blows all the time. Coach Kilmer says all the time, ‘the body is weaker than the mind.’”

For the year 2020, Lowell has now won the ‘Leather Helmet Trophy’ (which goes to the winner of the Lowell-Crown Point game) and the ‘Old Milk Can’ (which goes to the winner of Lowell-KV). Which is bigger?

“That’s a hard question,” said Heuer. “I’d like to win the conference.”

With Andrean’s win over defending league champ Hobart last Friday, Lowell can win the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC). Lowell needs simply to win its final three games against Highland, Munster and Andrean (5-1) to take the Red Devil’s first league championship since 2017.

Aug. 21 at Crown Point 6A W 6 0    
Aug. 28   Portage 6A W 37 19    
Sep. 4   Wheeler 2A W 26 13    
Sep. 11 at Griffith 4A W 47 28    
Sep. 25   Kankakee Valley 4A © W 28 21    
Oct. 2 at Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 9   Munster 5A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 16 at Andrean 2A © 7:00 pm    


Coach: James Broyles, 11-15 in 3rd year at school
Aug. 21   Rensselaer Central 2A W 28 7    
Aug. 28   Wheeler 2A W 45 7    
Sep. 4 at South Bend Washington 3A W 42 7    
Sep. 11 at North Newton 2A W 44 8    
Sep. 18   Munster 5A © W 53 0    
Sep. 25 at Lowell 4A © L 21 28    
Oct. 2   Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 9   Andrean 2A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 16 at Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    

  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Andrean 2-0 87 34 5-  1 217 88 Won 5
Lowell 1-0 28 21 5-  0 144 81 Won 5
Kankakee Valley 1-1 74 28 5-  1 233 57 Lost 1
Highland 1-1 30 55 3-  2 109 112 Won 1
Hobart 0-1 24 35 3-  2 135 68 Lost 1
Munster 0-2 3 73 1-  5 47 218 Lost 3
Friday, Sep. 25
Andrean 35, Hobart 24 ©
Highland 20, Munster 3 ©
Lowell 28, Kankakee Valley 21 ©
Friday, Oct. 2
Andrean at Munster ©, 7 pm
Hobart at Kankakee Valley ©, 7 pm
Lowell at Highland ©, 7 pm
Friday, Oct. 9
Andrean at Kankakee Valley ©, 7 pm
Highland at Hobart ©, 7 pm
Munster at Lowell ©, 7 pm
©conference game