MUNSTER | Opportunity knocked, and Tyler Hopkins and Isaac James answered Friday night.
With standout running back George Fields scratched from the lineup due to disciplinary reasons, according to Lowell coach Keith Kilmer, Hopkins and James didn’t miss a beat in picking up the slack. Hopkins was a workhorse with 26 carries for a game-high 87 yards, and James added 48 yards and a touchdown as the Times No. 6 Red Devils won their sixth straight game, shutting down No. 4 Munster 17-7 in Northwest Crossroads Conference play.
“I knew it would be hard without George, but I trusted my line and just ran hard,” Hopkins said. “My style is more like a tank. I hit guys, bounce and drive. It’s the same way I’ve been running since Pop Warner.
“We dealt with some adversity, but defense rose to the occasion, too.”
In fact, after a scoreless first quarter, Munster (5-3, 3-2) scored first on an 8-yard run by Dom Lucito. From there, though, the Mustangs couldn’t do much against a stout Lowell defense, which came in allowing only 12 points and less than 91 yards a game.
“This is the best we’ve played since 2009,” said Lowell’s Eddie Simmons, who had two interceptions. “Our defense is really playing well. Next week (against Andrean) is going to be special.”
Munster got 96 yards rushing from Dom Lucito and 61 from Jeffery Proctor, who left the game due to injury in the third quarter, but managed only 59 yards of total offense and two first downs in the first half. The Mustangs, who had their three-game winning streak snapped, had three turnovers, including two in their own territory.
Lowell’s Seth Anderson passed for 72 yards and a touchdown, a nice 17-yard hookup with Aaron Hamm.
“It was just a matter of patience. We knew we weren’t going to break a big one on Munster,” Kilmer said. “We were just looking at (getting first downs) and moving the chains.”
Lowell (6-2, 5-0) set up a showdown with unbeaten Andrean next week at The Inferno for the NWC title on the line.
“We’re back,” Hopkins said. “Now we’re fighting for a conference championship. It’s been a while, but we’re here.
“I think Andrean’s going to have its hands full.”