EAST CHICAGO | It was power vs. speed. Blue-collar vs. speed. Lunch buckets vs. speed.
Every conventional thought of region football fans about playing postseason football on a frigid October Friday night went out the window as West Side shocked the state by beating Lowell 30-9.
Junior quarterback Ramone Atkins threw for 191 yards, this time against a legitimate defense. JonVea Johnson caught seven passes for 131 yards and had a 76-yard touchdown run off a reverse.
This time against a legit defense.
“Lowell's defensive front was as good as we've faced all year,” West Side coach Jason Johnson said. “They beat the snot out of us. We had 15 kids being helped off the field.
“But our guys stayed tough. They stuck together. This was a monster win for our program.”
West Side (5-5) will travel to Highland (5-5) in next week's Class 4A Sectional 17 semifinal.
Lowell fumbled six times and lost three of them, with West Side senior DeAnthony Hall picking up all three fumbles. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
Several Lowell (6-4) drives were stalled deep in Cougars' territory. The last thing coach Keith Kilmer wanted in this yin vs. yang game was to be trailing.
It's tough to chase speed.
“We needed to take advantage of every possession,” Kilmer said. “We didn't. You can't beat a good team when your offense sputters. And that is a good team.”
George Fields carried the ball 36 times for 189 yards.
West Side led Lowell 12-9 at halftime at Pete Rucinski Field. West Side quarterback Ramone Atkins hit JonVea Johnson on two fourth-down passes, one 16 yards and the other 22, to keep the drive alive.
Atkins scored on a one-yard run for the game's first score at 5:12 of the first quarter. Lowell established the power run behind George Fields, and teammate Dan Garza scored from one out with 46 seconds left in the first quarter.
Colton Wilkey missed the extra point to keep the score at 6-6. Wilkey later nailed a 22-yard field goal with 5:32 left in the second quarter.
But JonVea Johnson scored on a 76-yard reverse at 5:11 of the quarter to finish the scoring. Wilkey missed a 38-yard field goal as time expired in the half under cold and windy conditions.