Espravnik scores 3 TDs as Lowell defeats Morton 33-6 in nonconference action

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Morton's Sebastian Rodriguez (67) puts the pass rush on Lowell QB Ethan Igras (16) last Friday in Hammond. (All photos by Mark Smith)
Lowell junior Michael Wildman (24) goes up over Morton's Josue Galvez (12) to grab this first half pass.
Morton's Tevin Armstrong (7) pitches out to Eric Johnson (1) and Lowell's Brandon Chocholek (42) joins the chase.
Lowell halfback Jaeger Gill (2) breaks loose for a 24-yard run in the second quarter against the Governors in Morton.
Lowell sophomore Bryan Schantz (51) looks to help out Tyler Wildman (32) on this fourth quarter run at Morton last Friday.
Lowell senior Gavin Summers (69) looks to attack the Morton offensive line last Friday in Hammond. The Devils never trailed in a 33-6 road win.
Max Steward (64) chases Morton QB Tevin Armstrong (7) in early action last Friday night in Hammond.
Morton's Tim Johnson (14) works to get his hands on Lowell's Ethan Igras (16) and Lowell's Bryan Schantz (51) tries to stop him Friday night in nonconference action at Morton.
Zac Galvan (3) grabs the center snap and gets ready to hold for the first of Jake Post's two field goals la Friday.
Late in the game last Friday, Lowell scores their final touchdown as 1.) Senior Austin Giordano (11) gets a push on Morton's Jordan Mielenz (51).
2.) Giordano (11) and Caleb Bergstrom (66) open the way for Ethan Igras (16) and...
3.) Igras (16) is untouched stepping into the end zone for the final TD of the night in Lowell's 33-6 win over Morton. (All photos by Mark Smith)

Copyright © 2016 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: October 27, 2016 .

Team 1 2 3 4 F
LOWELL (3-4) 7 16 3 7 33
MORTON (3-4) 0 6 0 0 6

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 58-degrees, rainy - non-conference game at HAMMOND, Ind.

1st QtrLOWELL (7-0) Trevor Espravnik, 56-yard TD run. Jake Post kick. 56 yard drive, 1 play. 6:21 left.
2nd Qtr: LOWELL (13-0) Trevor Espravnik, 1-yard run. 3 plays aftre Jake Post blocked a Morton punt.
Kick wide. 11:28 left.
MORTON (13-6) Trashan Clemons, 3-yard run. 81 yard drive 11 plays. 2-point run failed. 7:14.
LOWELL (20-6) Trevor Espravnik, 37-yard run. 50-yard drive, 2 plays. Jake Post kick. 4:15
LOWELL (23-6) Jake Post, 25-yard field goal. 46-yard drive, 6 plays. 7:14 left.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (26-6) Jake Post, 32-yard field goal. 50-yard drive, 11 plays. 4:30 left.
4th QtrLOWELL (33-6) Ethan Igras, 1-yard run. 59-yard drive, 9 plays. Jake Post kick. 10:36 left.


LOWELL (52 carries, 305 yards, 4 TDs, one fumble): Trevor Espravnik (HB) 30 carries, 203 yards, 3 TDs, Jordan Jusevitch (HB) 1 carry, 17 yards, Jaeger Gill (WR) 6 carries, 38 yards, Ethan Igras (QB) 4 carries, minus-5 yards, TD; Robert Miller (HB) 2-9 yards, Austin Giordano (FB) 2-5 yards, Shawn Mooney (QB) 1-0 yards, fumble.

MORTON (31 caries, 87 yards, TD): Tevin Armstrong (QB) 6 carries, 9 yards; Eric Johnson (HB) 16 carries, 57 yards, Trashan Clemons (HB) 11-39 yards, TD.
LOWELL: Dayton Hornickel (QB) 1-for-2, 13 yards, Ethan Igras (QB) 3-for-12, 61 yards;
MORTON: Tevin Armstrong (QB) 6-of-17 79 yards, 0 TDs, one interception.

LOWELL: Mitch Wildman (TE) 1-24 yards, Austin Giordano (FB) 3-50 yards.
MORTON: Kashon Prather (WR) 2-53 yards, Dyaln Battle (WR) 1-3 yards, Brendan Jones (HB) 1-4 yards, Trashan Clemons (HB) 2-19 yards.


LOWELL: 379 yards, 14 first downs, 1 turnover; MORTON: 167 yards, 6 first downs, 1 turnover.

Jaeger Gill (LOWELL).

Fumble recoveries:

Tim Johnson (MORTON).

HAMMOND, IN (09-30-2016) A lot of the non-injury concerns about Lowell centered around the fact that they weren't running the ball that well and they weren't stopping the run. Sometimes Lowell lost because they couldn't throw the ball or because the other side threw the ball really well against them. That's OK.

But Lowell has to run the ball well and stop the run when they have to. Lowell finally looked like Lowell Friday night at Morton. The Devils ran for 300 yards. Held the other side under 100 yards rushing. Blocked a punt. And the tailback ran for three touchdowns.

Just like the good, old days.

The Devils (3-4) won 33-6 in a rainy night nonconference game which could be a turning point for the 2016 Devils.

"I think we have some seniors stepping up to lead now," said Lowell veteran coach Keith Kilmer. "There's only a few weeks left. All you're guaranteed (after seven weeks) is three more. Now we're starting to see what we expected to see in August. It's not even play. Just attitude and effort and belief."

Lowell started quickly on this soggy night at the north end of the county. The Devils took the opening kickoff and moved to the Morton 24-yard line in ten plays before losing the ball on downs. After a quick Morton punt, Trevor Espravnik broke loose 56 yards for the game's first TD.

Morton (3-4) punted in three plays the first three times they had the ball and the third punt was blocked by Lowell junior Jake Post at the Morton 17-yard line. Lowell scored quickly on a run by Espravnik with 11:28 to go before the half, putting the visitors up 13-0.

Morton scored when they went to the no quarterback 'Wildcat' formation with direct snaps to senior halfback Trashan Clemens. Clemens ran eight times on an 81-yard, 12 play TD drive in the second quarter to cut the Lowell lead to 13-6.

The Devils started junior Ethan Igras at QB but senior QB Dayton Hornickel did play. Lowell ran the ball a lot better than they have most of the season. Espravnik broke loose on a 37-yard TD run late in the half to up the lead to 20-6. Jaeger Gill had first half runs of 36 and 24 yards. The Devils had 221 yards rushing at halftime.

Espravnik's run and a 25-yard field goal by Post made it 23-6 at the half. Post's second field goal late in the third quarter gave Lowell an insurmountable 26-6 lead.

"We want to throw (only) when we want to throw," said Kilmer "and tonight we were able to throw a little on first down. If they're giving it to us. Putting nine in the box (within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage) and giving us man coverage on our athletes, we have a chance to make some plays."

A lot of this game was played in a light rain so there weren't any big pass plays. But possession passes helped the Devils move the ball in the first half.

"We just wanted to give our defense a chance," said Kilmer. "Get them off the field. Our Achilles heel has been the
3-and-outs and we didn't do that tonight. We moved the ball. Even when we didn't score, we flipped the field."

After missing parts of three games with a shoulder injury, Lowell got junior safety Jordan Jusevitch (6-0, 201) back in the lineup, mostly on defense, where he was officially in on 15 tackles. With juniors Gill and Jusevitch in the Lowell secondary, it's difficult to challenge the Devils with deep passes. Lowell has allowed 534 yards (and 47 of 113 completed) passing in seven games.

"It's nice to have him back there," said Kilmer of Jusevitch. "You can do things back there that you planned on since August. When he's not out there, you have to be more 'vanilla' and basic."

Espravnik's 203 yards on 30 carries was impressive because he was helped off the field after one run in the second quarter. It looked like he was done for the night, at least.

"He is your prototypical Red Devil football player," said Kilmer with pride after the game. "He is gutty. He plays two inches taller and 40 pounds heavier (Trevor is listed at 5-foot-11 and 184 pounds) than he is. He doesn't say a whole lot. Doesn't smile a lot. Doesn't frown a lot. Just loves to play football. There's a lot of pride in these kids. It's not easy to be a Red Devil football player. You have to go through a lot. And it's this time of season."

"We knew we needed this," said Espravnik, who played linebacker much of the 2015 season. "This was a statement game. Now we need to come back next week and keep the train rolling. We're just trying to forget about the last six weeks and just be 1-0 as of today. Our coaches never gave up on us and we never gave up."

Espravnik credited Jusevitch for getting back on the field in a nonconference game on a bad weather night to help his team stop losing.

"A guy with his kind of talent doesn't have to be all about the team," Trevor said. "But he is. He's always putting the team first."

When Espravnik seemed hurt in the second quarter with his team ahead just 13-6 and he didn't have to go back on the field on a bad weather night in a nonconference game either. But this late in your senior season, I guess you play if you can get out there.

"Everyone's banged up by now," Espravnik said. "You have to know the difference between being hurt and being injured. There's a fine line between the two."

DEVIL NOTES: In seven games, no team has scored more than two touchdowns on the Lowell defense. Portage defeated Lowell 28-27 in August but two touchdowns scored by the Indians came on runbacks of turnovers. Friday at Morton was only the second time (the 41-14 win at Highland was the other) that Lowell has run for 300 yards in a game this season.

Lowell only has 13 seniors and there may not have been that vocal of a leader early in the season.

"Most of us are just 'lead by example' guys," said senior Trevor Espravnik, Lowell's rushing leader. "There's a couple more vocal guys now."

What do older players say to younger players?

"Just to have confidence," Trevor said. "Most of them have a lot of ability, but they don't always have the confidence when things go wrong. We just have to talk to them."

If Lowell felt good on the bus home from Hammond Friday, they felt a lot better Sunday when they drew winless Gary West Side (0-6) in the Class 4A Sectional 17 playoffs. The Cougars, who are reportedly a little short on players this fall, have been outscored 256-24 in six games.

With that said, West Side's final two games are against Clark (0-7) and arch-rival Gary Roosevelt (0-6). It is not impossible for the Cougars to come to Lowell with a two-game winning streak.

If Lowell was to defeat West Side on October 21, they could face a return visit to Morton (3-4) in the sectional semifinals on Oct. 28.

Coach: Keith Kilmer, 45-28 in 7th year at school
Aug. 19 at Crown Point {6A} 2ot  L   3-  9   
Aug. 26 Portage {6A}   L 27-28   
Sep. 2 Kankakee Valley {4A}‡  W 35-  0   
Sep. 9 at Griffith {3A}‡   L   9-17   
Sep. 16 at Highland {4A}‡  W 41-14   
Sep. 23 Hobart {4A}‡   L 12-18   
Sep. 30 at Hammond Morton {4A}  W 33-  6   
Oct. 7 Munster {4A}‡ 7:00 pm   
Oct. 14 at Andrean {4A}‡ 7:00 pm   
Coach: Sean Kinsey, 3-4 in 1st year at school
Aug. 19 Highland {4A}   L 13-42   
Aug. 26 Kankakee Valley {4A}  W 26-24   
Sep. 2 at Hammond Clark {4A}‡  W 34-  0   
Sep. 9 Hammond {3A}‡  W 20-  6   
Sep. 16 at Munster {4A}   L   7-20   
Sep. 23 East Chicago Central {4A}‡   L   0-40   
Sep. 30 Lowell {4A}   L   6-33   
Oct. 7 at Hobart {4A} 7:00 pm   
Oct. 14 at Hammond Gavit {4A}‡ 7:00 pm   


  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Griffith 4-1 85 70 5-  2 161 133 Won 4
Hobart 4-1 114 95 5-  2 165 128 Won 2
Andrean 3-1 140 77 4-  3 231 162 Won 3
Lowell 2-2 97 49 3-  4 160 92 Won 1
Munster 2-2 103 62 3-  4 152 129 Lost 2
Highland 0-4 54 164 3-  4 161 191 Lost 3
Kankakee Valley 0-4 19 95 2-  5 91 141 Lost 1
Friday, Sep. 30
Andrean 20, Kankakee Valley 0‡
Griffith 24, Highland 6‡
Hobart 19, Munster 14‡
Lowell 33, Hammond Morton 6
Friday, Oct. 7
Andrean at Griffith‡, 7 pm
Hammond Morton at Hobart, 7 pm
Kankakee Valley at Highland‡, 7 pm
Munster at Lowell‡, 7 pm
Friday, Oct. 14
Griffith at East Chicago Central, 7 pm
Highland at Hobart‡, 7 pm
Kankakee Valley at Munster‡, 7 pm
Lowell at Andrean‡, 7 pm
‡Conference game