Late score lifts East Central over Red Devils 14-7 in IHSAA Class 4A Title Game

A Special Report by Mark Smith



An 'RDP' Red Devil Pride car made it to Indianapolis for the 4A title game and probably brought some Lowell fans with it. (Photos by Mark Smith)
Lowell QB Ethan Igras doesn't know he's warming up on the Lucas Oil Stadium TV screen.
East Central's Eric Rosemeyer (14) runs a misdirection play. EC's offense was a lot like Munster's with misdirection plays aimed at slowing down the Red Devils.
Lowell's Mike Langen (30) chases EC quarterback Alex Maxwell (12) early in the state championship game. Maxwell ran 13 times for 88 yards and completed six passes for 65 more.
East Central's Chase Ludwig (9) is determined to stop Lowell's Jaeger Gill (2) at the state finals. Lowell ran 33 times for 144 yards rushing.
Lowell QB Ethan Igras (13) completed nine of 15 for 144 yards against East Central in the 4A state championship game.
Two 'Faces of Sportsmanship' and one silly face are in the front row of the Lowell student section at the state finals.
Lowell fans made a good showing at the finals. About 4,000 made the trip from south Lake County to cheer on the Devils.
EC's Malachi Studer (24) tries to hold onto Lowell's Jaeger Gill (2) at the state finals. Lowell outgained East Central 288-207.
Lowell coach Keith Kilmer talks with the IHSAA network at halftime of the state finals. The game was tied 7-7 after the first two quarters.
Lowell's Jacob Mitrisin (70) runs down East Central quarterback Alex Maxwell (12) in the state championship game in the Lucas Oil Arena in Indianapolis.
Lowell junior Kory King (57) listens to the plan during a time out huddle. The Devils were in the state championship game for the fourth time in 12 years.
Lowell's Logan Charters (40) peaks into the East Central backfield during the state championship game. The Lowell defense held EC to 14 points and 207 total yards.
Mike Langen (30) tries to get his hands on East Central quarterback Alex Maxwell (12) in state finals action. Lowell was not able to sack the EC quarterback at all in the title game while Maxwell ran for one TD and passed for another.
Lowell's Jaeger Gill (2) looks for running room against East Central. The game was tied 7-7 at the half and after three quarters.
EC's Alex Maxwell (12) gets time to throw while Lowell's Logan O'Hanlon (10), Mike Langen (30) and Jake Mitrisin (70) try to hurry him.
Lowell's Logan Charters (40) shows up on the giant TV screen at the Lucas Oil Stadium early in the second quarter. The Devils reached the state finals for the fourth time.
A Lowell cheerleader reflects the mood of the fourth quarter as East Central scored late to beat Lowell 14-7 and win the 2017 Class 4A state title. (Photos by Mark Smith)

Copyright 2018 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: April 08, 2018 .

Team 1 2 3 4 F
EAST CENTRAL (12-3) 0 7 0 7 14
LOWELL (14-1) 7 0 0 0 7

Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 - Lucas Oil Arena, Class 4A State Championship game in INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.

1st Qtr: LOWELL (7-0) Jordan Jusevitch, 1-yard run. 89-yard drive, 11 plays. Mike Hutton kick. 2:34 left.
2nd Qtr: EAST CENTRAL (7-7) Justin Brown, 13-yard pass from Alex Maxwell. 76-yard drive, 17 plays. Caden Browndyke kick. 6:58 left.
3rd Qtr: 
No scoring.
4th Qtr: EAST CENTRAL (14-7) Alex Maxwell, 6-yard run. 81-yard drive, 11 plays. Caden Browndyke kick. 2:02 left.

EAST CENTRAL (40 carries, 142 yards, one TD, 0 fumbles): Alex Maxwell (QB) 13 carries, 88 yards, one TD; Logan Storie (HB) 14 carries, 28 yards; Eric Rosemeyer (HB) 7-20 yards; Jayden Williamson (HB) 2-7 yards;

LOWELL (33 carries, 144 yards, one TD, one fumble): Jordan Jusevitch (HB) 16 carries, 80 yards, TD; Ethan Igras (QB) 6-30 yards; Jaeger Gill (WR) 4-19 yards; Tyler Wildman (HB) 7-15 yards.

EAST CENTRAL = Alex Maxwell (QB) 6 of 11, 65 yards, one TD, 0 interceptions;
LOWELL = Ethan Igras (QB) 9 of 15, 144 yards, 0 TDs, 2 interceptions.

EAST CENTRAL = Logan Storie (HB) 3 catches, 21 yards, Matt Lewis (WR) 2-31 yards, Justin Brown (TE) 1-13 yards, TD.
LOWELL: Jordan Jusevitch (WR) 5-85 yards, one fumble; Jaeger Gill (WR) 3-50, TD; Brandon Bertola (WR) 1-9.

East Central (2) Nate Lloyd (DB) two; LOWELL(0).

East Central (1) Keegan Gindling (DT) one, Jusevitch.

East Central = 207 yards, 13 first downs, 0 turnovers;
LOWELL = 288 yards, 14 first downs, 3 turnovers.

Complete IHSAA Official 4A Title Game Statistics

INDIANAPOLIS (11-25-2017) All year long I thought that, of the two teams on the field each weekend, that Lowell was the better team going into the game. And if Lowell played East Central again, I'd still pick the Devils to win.

But in the 4A state championship game, while the Devils scored first and outgained EC, had more passing yards, rushing yards and first downs, the Devils weren't the better team on the field, losing the state title game 14-7.

EC spotted Lowell a 7-0 first quarter lead, but they were steady and sturdy, denying Lowell again and again on key plays and turning the game in their favor to win the southeast Indiana school's second football title.

"I thought our defense played great," said Jordan Jusevitch. "But they capitalized on a couple of plays. Our discipline hurts us. We fell asleep on some guys on a couple of plays. They slipped out and took advantage of it. That's why they're going to get the blue (state championship) ring."

"They (East Central) are a great team. New Prairie was. Dwenger was. All hard nosed teams. They didn't do anything we didn't expect. But they just got it done. It's gonna hurt, but it all had to come to an end sometime."
About 4,000 fans from Lowell watched the Devils (14-1) score in the first 10 minutes of the game. Junior QB Ethan Igras was 3-for-3 passing on an 89-yard scoring drive that ended with Jusevitch scoring on a 1-yard run with 2:34 left in the quarter.

This is where the game stayed even and maybe it shouldn't have. East Central mounted a 17-play, 76-yard 10 minute drive that tied the score 7-7. Two penalties helped the EC cause, the second one an offsides penalty on fourth down when the Trojans were kicking a field goal, giving EC a first down at the Lowell 15-yard line.

The touchdown was a well-executed 13-yard pass form Trojan QB Alex Maxwell to tight end Justin Brown just 6:58 before halftime.

EC was good on this drive, but the score should have been 7-3 at the half, not 7-7. The score could have been 14-7 for the Red Devils as well. Lowell drove 73 yards in 13 plays highlighted by passes of 17 and 21 yards to Jusevitch.
On 3rd-and-5 at the East Central 11-yard-line Igras' pass was intercepted by the Trojans' Nate Lloyd with :56 seconds left before halftime. Lowell had two possessions in the entire first half, gained 131 yards and eight first downs and scored just seven points.

Lowell had a 1st-and-10 at the Lowell 49 yard line on the first possession of the third quarter, but Jusevitch fumbled after a pass reception and EC's Logan Moser grabbed it at the East Central 45-yard line. The Lowell defense forced EC punts the next two times they had the ball and Lowell began the fourth quarter with three rushing first downs by Jusevitch, who played halfback about 3/4 of the game. The Red Devil was pushed out of bounds at the East Central 17-yard line after a 16-yard run with 9:30 to play.

Lowell and Jusevitch were stopped three times in a row by the EC defense and on fourth down, instead of a 36-yard field goal attempt, the Devils tried to gain another first down on 4th-and-12. Igras' pass to Jaeger Gill fell incomplete.

EC then mounted another long, slow drive converting three times on third down. On 3rd-and 1 at the Lowell 45 yard line Maxwell, EC's junior QB, broke loose on a 37-yard option run to the Lowell 8-yard line. Maxwell, the 180-pound field leader, scored standing up on a 6-yard run with 2:02 to go to make the score 14-7.

Lowell had one last chance. Igras hit three passes in a row. For 21 yards to Jusevitch. For nine yards to senior Brandon Bertola and for 11 yards to Gill to the East Central 24-yard-line with 2:20 to play.

But Igras' fourth consecutive pass, which seemed to be intended for Bertola was intercepted by Nate Lloyd, ending the Devils' final possession.

"Third down conversions," pointed out Lowell coach Keith Kilmer. "I haven't looked at it, but that's the stat that's going to tell the tale."

East Central gained a first down seven times in 13 tries on third down. "That's the difference. You can second guess every call. But the 3rd-and-longs killed us. That was the difference in the ball game."

The game seemed to progress rapidly, even with the lack of scoring. Lowell only had six possessions in the entire game. East Central had just seven. If it's any consolation (which it isn't) the game felt like a matchup of top teams.

"I think East Central being here in 2015 helped them. Most of these guys (the 2017 team) didn't play then, but they were here. They went through it. It was like our 2007 and 2009 teams. They were helped because they were here before."

"We tried to prepare them the best way we knew how, but for them, until you do it, you don't know. East Central handled that better than we did."

I'm not a big believer in that if you lose the state championship game, it's okay because it was great just to be there. I'm pretty sure Lowell didn't feel that way. The Devils have reached the state final four times now and are 1-3 in state title games. I'd hoped that the 2017 Devils would go 15-0 and win it all because the Class of 2018 had put together four excellent years of football and they deserved the title. But East Central was the 2015 runner up. EC's Class of '18 was 37-9 the last three years. The only honor in losing is found in the quality of the team you lost to. The Trojans 'deserved' to win, too.

"Losing the last day of the season stinks and it hurts," said Kilmer. "But only six teams get a chance to do it. We'll get over it. You'll find a time when you can be proud of what you did."

"I'll remember this forever," Jusevitch said in the endless hallways of the Lucas Oil Arena. "It's not a good memory. But it was a good season."

DEVIL NOTES: The state title win was the sixth win in a row for East Central (EC lost 31-14 to Bishop Chatard to end the regular season) and the seventh time they held an opponent to less than 10 points. East Central was 12-3 in 2015 when they lost the state title game. EC's other state title came in 1994 when they were 14-0.

Lowell's seniors finished with a three-year record of 35-7 including a 12-1 season in 2015. From 2007 to 2009, Lowell was 39-5, losing twice (2007 and 2009) in the state championship game to Evansville Reitz.

Lowell allowed 103 points (6.8 per game) in 15 games and they allowed a total of 48 points (8.0) in six playoff games.

Lowell will have four alums as head coaches in 2018. Joe O'Connell, a Lowell QB and longtime Merrillville coach, has become the head coach at River Forest. Ex-Red Devil Adam Hudak will begin his second year as coach at Wheeler.
2017 defensive coordinator Derek Thompson will make his debut as the head coach at Kankakee Valley.

Lowell has now reached the state championship game four times (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2017), winning in 2005. The Devils have won the last four Class 4A Sectional 17 championships.

Lowell coach Keith Kilmer took the loss hard but he added.

"These guys are the first Lowell team to win 14 games. The seniors were in on four sectionals. There's disappointment that you didn't reach your ultimate goal. But I don't want anybody feeling sorry for themselves. Don't feel like you're a failure."

"If it was that easy we'd do it every year. Sometimes you are a victim of your own success. Raised expectations in the 4A north is pretty rough."

NUMBERS DON'T LIE (except when, OOPS!, they're wrong): The IHSAA state football finals program stated incorrectly that East Central finished with a 14-1 record. Lowell finished the 2017 season at 14-1 after going undefeated through their first 14 games. East Central actually finished the 2017 campaign with a 12-3 record (see 2017 season summary below).

Coach: Keith Kilmer, 65-30 in 8th year at school
Aug. 18 Crown Point {6A}  W 27-13   
Aug. 25 at Portage {6A}  W 20-  7   
Sep. 1 at Hammond Morton {4A}  W 19-  0   
Sep. 8 Hammond Clark {3A}  W 63-  6   
Sep. 15 at Kankakee Valley {4A}  W 27-13   
Sep. 22 Highland {4A}  W 27-  0   
Sep. 29 at Munster {5A}  W 28-  9   
Oct. 6 Andrean {3A}  W 16-  0   
Oct. 13 at Hobart {4A}  W 30-  7   
Oct. 20 Gary West {4A} W 41-  0  sectional
Oct. 27 at Highland {4A} W 35-  0  sectional
Nov. 3 Griffith {4A} W 42-  7  sectional
Nov. 10 New Prairie {4A} W 25- 20  regional
Nov. 17 at Fort Wayne Dwenger {4A} W 21-  7  semistate
Nov. 25 (n) East Central {4A} W  7- 14  state


2017 SEASON (12-3)
Coach: Justin Roden 47-20 in 5th year at school
Aug. 18 at Lawrenceburg W 15 14    
Aug. 25   Harrison (Ohio) L 24 27 OT  
Sep. 1   Cincinnati LaSalle (Ohio) L 0 13    
Sep. 8 at Franklin County W 41 36    
Sep. 15 at Batesville W 51 10    
Sep. 22   South Dearborn W 34 0    
Sep. 29   Connersville W 50 0    
Oct. 6   Greensburg W 51 0    
Oct. 13 at Indianapolis Chatard L 14 31    
Oct. 20 at Edgewood W 48 6   sect
Oct. 27   South Dearborn W 51 0   sect
Nov. 3   Silver Creek W 24 0   sect
Nov. 10   Evansville Central W 35 13   regn
Nov. 17   Greenwood W 27 14   semi
Nov. 25 N Lowell W 14 7   state