Warchus hits Smaw with 72-yard TD pass in 4th to lead Portage over Red Devils 7-3 in Lowell home opener
A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith
|Lowell takes the field for the 2018 season home opener against Portage. (All photos by Mark Smith)|
|The offense keys on center Jake Steward (55), guard Bryan Schantz (51) quarterback John Alessia (2), and halfback Tyler Wildman (32).|
|Defensive tackle Chandler Austgen (78) was in on eight tackles against Portage including three for losses.|
|Lowell junior offensive lineman Trevor Matovina (72) might be being held on this play. Still, halfback Tyler Wildman (32) picks up some yardage.|
|Portage junior QB Zack Warchus (7) was under pressure from Lowell all night, but he did throw the crucial 72-yard TD pass in the final quarter.|
|Lowell's Bryan Schantz (51) was in on four tackles at linebacker. Schantz was one of many Devils who played on both sides of the ball.|
|Lowell junior Riley Miller (34) puts the arm on Portage quarterback Zack Warchus (7) in last week's game.|
|Lowell ball boys get set for the 2018 home opener. All Red Devil ball boys eventually must play varsity football for the Devils. It's the law in Lowell.|
|I think that's Aaron DuBord (48) in the middle there with a fourth quarter Portage fumble.|
|It was a 'Hawaiian Night ' theme in the Lowell student section for the Portage game.|
|Lowell senior Joel Dearing (31) heads upfield off the block of Blake Jansky (44) early in last Friday's Lowell-Portage game.|
|Lowell linebacker Aaron DuBord (48) points out Portage receiver Trevor Smaw (11) on a play early in Friday's game. He was a prophet. Smaw would catch the winning TD pass in the final minutes of Portage's 7-3 victory over Lowell. (All photos by Mark Smith)|
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Friday, August 24, 2018 - 68 degrees (at kick-off) in LOWELL, IN
2nd Qtr: No scoring.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (3-0) Nate Gard, 42-yard field goal. 3 plays (minus) 8 yards. 7:56 left.
4th Qtr: PORTAGE (7-3) Trevor Smaw, 72-yard pass form Zack Warchus. One play, 72 yards. Miguel Verduzco kick. 6:30 left.
PORTAGE (29 carries, 58 yards, 0 TDs, 1 fumble): Jalen Hines (HB) 12 carries, 32 yards; Zack Warchus (QB) 10-15 yards; Jalen Smith (RB) 5 (minus-4 yards); Trey Sebben (HB) 2-16 yards.
LOWELL (40 carries, 50 yards, 0 TDs, 2 fumbles): Tyler Wildman (HB) 23 carries, 50 yards, TD; Joel Dearing (HB) 1-3 yards; Adam Bank (HB) (1-(minus-1 yard)
LOWELL: John Alessia (QB) 7 of 15, 57 yards, one interception;
PORTAGE: Zack Warchus (QB) 5 of 13, 99 yards, one TD, one interception.
PORTAGE: Trey Sebben (HB) 1-3 yards; Kody Taylor (WR) 1-7 yards; Trey Sebben (RB) 1-3 yards; Trevor Smaw (WR) 2-78 yards, TD.
LOWELL: Shawn Mooney (WR) 2-18 yards; Joel Dearing (WR) 2-17 yards; Blake Jansky (TE) 1-11 yards; Kyle Newcomb (HB) 2-11 yards.
LOWELL (1) Tyler Wildman (S); PORTAGE (1) Jordan Warner (S).
PORTAGE (2) Troy Carrington (DE), Tyler Stone (DT)
PORTAGE: 157 yards, 4 first downs, one turnover;
LOWELL: 107 yards, 7 first downs, 3 turnovers.
(08-24-2018) Lowell has a three-point lead and the ball in the fourth
quarter against Portage last Friday night.
Playing without their starting quarterback and two other contributors, the Class 4A Devils were seven minutes away from defeating a Class 6A school for the second week in a row. But Portage (1-1) made a play. And the visiting Indians left Lowell quite happy with a 7-3 victory.
Junior Zack Warchus, harassed all night by the Lowell defense, fired a perfect 72-yard TD pass to senior Trevor Smaw with 6:30 to play, giving the Indians a come-from-behind win in south Lake County.
“We talked,” said Portage coach Darren Rodriguez, about the coaching play call. “We hoped they would be in a ‘single high safety’ and we saw number six (Adam Bank) the safety, was cheating the other way. We thought we’d get a 1-on-1. We told our guy that he had to get open (deep). We’re running out of time. This had to work.”
Smaw (6-0, 165) lined up on the left and sprinted to the middle to the field with Lowell’s Shawn Mooney (5-10, 145) running along side. Smaw never had to break stride as the pass from Warchus was long and strong. On 1st-and-10 from the 22, Portage rolled the quarterback out away from the Devils pass rush and got Warchus time he might not have gotten on third down.
A crowd of about 2,000 watched Lowell (1-1) lose at home for the first time since their Class 4A semistate loss to Northwood on November 18, 2016. The Devils had won 13 regular season games in a row.
“It just wasn’t a very good offensive night,” said Lowell coach Keith Kilmer. “We’ve got to get better. It just wasn’t a very good night including for coach Kilmer the offensive coordinator.”
The Red Devils’ senior quarterback Ethan Igras, a two-year starter, broke his right (throwing) hand in the season opener.
They moved junior wide receiver and defensive back John Alessia to quarterback and it was tough going on offense.
Lowell which, in truth, wasn't an offensive hurricane in the 17-7 win at Crown Point in week one, punted eight times against Portage including three punts in the first quarter.
“It was his first time playing QB on a Friday night,” said Kilmer, who understood the struggle. “He ran three plays in the scrimmage. This is different. We’ll find out what he runs well and we’ll get better.”
Lowell got better on offense as the game went on. They recorded four first downs in the fourth quarter, but the Devils’ longest gain of the night was 12 yards.
A pivotal play came after Tyler Wildman intercepted Warchus at the Portage 23-yard line midway through the third quarter.
The Devils got another first down on a face mask penalty at the Portage 9-yard-line. Three runs by Wildman moved the ball to the 3-yard line. On fourth down, Lowell could have kicked a field goal for a 6-0 lead, but Kilmer didn’t want to settle for that.
“They weren’t going to kick a field goal (if they got close),” he explained. “So 3-0 and 6-0 were the same thing. If we punch it in, its 10-0 and we win.”
Alessia tried a 4th down pass that was intercepted by senior Portage linebacker Jordan Warner with 3:23 left in the third quarter.
Considering QB situation on both sides (Portage’s Warchus was starting just his second varsity game), the low-scoring result was not a surprise.
“Hats off to our defense,” said Rodriguez. “They made a few plays on us, but not many. We kept telling the offense we were going to do just enough to win.
Obviously, Lowell could have won this game. The Devils had the ball and a 3-0 lead with a first down at their own 37-yard line with nine minutes to play.
“We couldn’t run on them,” said Kilmer. “They had five in the box (five defenders up front against Lowell’s 4-wide receiver spread formation). That’s what we want. We have to be able to run against that. We did a little at the end, but not enough.”
Portage, which allowed 350 yards and five TDs at home against Mishawaka (2-0) seven days earlier, didn’t allow Lowell into the end zone and was quite pleased with that.
“This (playing Lowell) is great for us,” Rodriguez said. “We know they’re well-coached. They always play hard. It tells us where we are. How we stand.”
Kilmer tried not to be discouraged by the difficult loss.
“That was our week one,” he said of the Portage game. “We started over on offense. Now we have to improve from week one to week two.”
“We got a little stronger at the end, but we didn’t do a lot in the first half at all.”
“I’m sure their offensive coordinator is over there saying the same thing. That was as ugly an offensive game as we can play.”
“But its only bad if we don’t get better next week.”
DEVIL NOTES: One obvious, but still difficult aspect of Ethan Igras being hurt and not playing quarterback for Lowell for awhile... The move of junior John Alessia to QB takes him away from his position as wide receiver and punt returner. Alessia’s 52-yard punt return helped defeat Crown Point in week one. You can't afford to have your quarterback as a punt returner.
The fact that Igras wasn’t even allowed to punt against Portage might be a hint he won't be back at quarterback for a few weeks.
Lowell also played without senior Rylee Torrence and junior Chris Bozak, both out with injuries.
The thought was that Torrence and Bozak will both return this season and that Igras will be able to return to the QB position this season.
Not this month but this season.
One Lowell highlight was junior kicker Nate Gard, who booted a career-best 42-yard field goal, a kick that would have been good from 50 yards as well.
Lowell's next Opponent: