By Jeremy Balan
Lowell High School’s offense took a while to get going, but it started up just in time.
The Cardinals trailed visiting Bret Harte of Angels Camp 20-0 early in the fourth quarter, but scored three times in the final 10 minutes of play to stun the Bullfrogs 21-20 on Saturday at School of the Arts.
What made the comeback even more remarkable was the fact that Lowell (1-0) ran just 16 plays in the first half for a total of 36 yards and just two first downs, while continuing to operate in its run-heavy double-wing offense.
With 23 seconds remaining, Lowell junior quarterback Will
Franco Frankel found senior Luke Gonhes all alone in the end zone for a 3-yard score on just his third pass attempt of the day to knot the game up at 20-20. Then, junior Mike McCarthy put the extra point through the uprights to seal the victory.
“We didn’t have a scrimmage, we didn’t have anything before this game, so we sort of just threw them to the wolves,” said Lowell head coach Danny Chan. “We made halftime adjustments and just made it really exciting.”
Leading the fourth-quarter charge was junior wingback Paul Cho, who didn’t get a carry until the final quarter, but made the most of his touches, breaking out for a game-high 74 yards on just five carries.
“I needed a scat back, and he was actually in Korea until the first day of school, so I said, ‘Hey, let’s play,’” Chan said. “He’s quick and I knew I had him, but I didn’t want to put him out there just yet. With so many guys going both ways, we put him in.”
Cho may have provided the spark, but it was a Bret Harte mistake that shifted the momentum early in the fourth quarter. With 9:53 remaining, the Bullfrogs ran a fake punt on their own 24-yard line and did not convert. Then, a play later, Lowell junior running back Willie Kim broke through the middle of the Bret Harte defense for a 26-yard score to cut the lead to 20-8.
Lowell got the ball back with just over five minutes to go and promptly drove down the field and scored again on a 5-yard run by senior running back Reggie Webb.
Webb, a bruising inside runner carried the ball 13 times for 59 yards.
“Last year was a bad year, but that’s all behind us now,” Webb said. “The people back at school didn’t believe in us, and we kind of doubted ourselves at times, but we all worked hard and did everything we needed to do for the team to come through.”
The game was as crushing for Bret Harte as it was uplifting for the Cardinals. The teams seemingly switched personalities at the half, and after putting up 20 points and 195 total yards in the first half, the Bullfrogs were limited to just 39 yards in the second.
“I’m just frustrated and disgusted with our second-half collapse,” said Bret Harte head coach Scott Edwards. “I have to give it to Lowell, though. They stuck to their gameplan and our guys got lazy and we let them back in the game. They fought their way back into it and our guys didn’t want to finish the fight.”
In just one game the Cardinals have equaled their win total from 2010 and won their first non-league game since 2008, hopefully reviving a program that has been down in recent years.
“It helps [our confidence], because usually when we invite a team in, we’re thinking, ‘Give them a game, keep it close and hope nobody gets hurt,’” Chan said.
BH: 1:46 – Jordan King 7-yard run (Kick failed)
BH: 6:47 – Tanner Sherrow 6-yard pass from Seth Holcomb (Levi Goodale kick good)
BH: 2:01 – Will Jones 34-yard pass from Holcomb (Goodale kick good)
L: 9:40 – Willie Kim 26-yard run (Mike McCarthy pass from Will Frankel on conversion)
L: 4:09 – Reggie Webb 5-yard run (Conversion failed)
L: 0:23 – Luke Gonhes 3-yard pass from Frankel (McCarthy kick good)