WHEATFIELD — It was back to basics Friday night for Times No. 2 Lowell at Kankakee Valley’s Fred Jones Field in a Northwest Crossroads Conference opener for both teams.
Lowell junior running back Tyler Wildman cut loose for 148 yards and three touchdowns as Lowell (5-0, 1-0) wore down K.V. 27-13.
“The kids just weren’t quite understanding what we were wanting them to do,” Lowell coach Keith Kilmer said. “You can’t blame the kids for that, so we went back to work. We slowed everything down, and (Tyler Wildman) really picked it up.”
After K.V.’s Randy Sneed caught a 2-yard TD pass from Nick Schoonveld to cut the deficit to 14-10 midway through the third quarter, Lowell struck right back.
A long kick return set up the Red Devils at the Kougars’ 40-yard line, and quarterback Ethan Igras kept the ball on the option and ran up the middle for the long touchdown run.
“(Igras) called his own number on that play, made a nice run, and that was kind of little bit of a dagger, took the wind out of their sails and allowed us to get back to running some power football,” Kilmer said.
K.V. coach Zach Prairie said Lowell is a tough team to defend.
“They’ve got two very good athletes in the backfield and also on the perimeter,” he said. “They also did a great job of reading our second level. It’s just something we hadn’t seen a lot of.”
After the big score, Lowell led 21-10 with 6 minutes and 53 seconds left in the third quarter. Wildman scored his third TD of the night later in the quarter for the final count.
“We struggled in the first four weeks, but the (offensive line) really did their job (Friday) night,” Wildman said.
Kilmer said Wildman was hitting the holes.
“He showed us that he could be a guy that can carry the ball 15, 20, 25 times a game, and that’s what we’ve been looking for,” he said.
Wildman scored his first touchdown on a 10-yard run, capping a six-play 51-yard drive to put the Red Devils in front 7-0.
After K.V’s Milan Dezelich booted a 24-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3 early in the second quarter, the Kougars gained some momentum. It had Lowell stopped on downs at the K.V. 34-yard line, but a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive going.
Lowell capitalized two plays later when Wildman ran around the right end for a 6-yard touchdown to give the Red Devils a 14-3 lead with 5:58 left in the second quarter.
K.V. (3-2, 0-1) finished with 209 yards of total offense.
“Their top 12 kids played hard, and they made us earn everything we got,” Kilmer said. “They really came after our defense, and they weren’t afraid of it. They demonstrated and showed us a few weaknesses. Luckily, our offense came out and played tonight, and we were able to move the chains and answer every time we needed to. That’s what teams that want to win championships do.”
Schoonveld threw for 108 yards and ran for another 84 to pace the Kougars.
“Our boys played great (Friday), and I thought their effort was there,” Prairie said. “Lowell is a dynamic team, and they can attack you a lot of different ways. I think they showed that (Friday).”