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Big picture: Lowell had to battle from behind most of the game in its 13-10 home victory over Kankakee Valley on Friday night in the Northwest Crossroads Conference opener for both teams. Lowell, which retained the Milk Can trophy for the fourth straight year, finally took the lead on junior Nathan Gard’s 39-yard field with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter to put the Devils up 13-10.

“It feels pretty good, keep the Can here,” Gard said.

K.V. came out in a passing attack led by senior quarterback Wade Williams, who completed five passes for 54 yards in an 8-play scoring drive to open the game for a 7-0 lead. K.V. led 10-3 at the half, but Lowell senior running back Tyler Wildman's 2-yard run knotted the game at 10-10 late in the third quarter.

“We said at halftime, 'We needed three-and-outs. We need the football in our hands,'” Wildman said. 

Turning point: After Lowell scored to tie the game, it forced a three-and-out by K.V. A bad snap forced Williams, who also punts, to run the ball, and he was tackled short of the first down on the K.V. side of the 50. Lowell moved the ball close enough to set up Gard’s eventual game-winning kick.

Kankakee Valley player of the game: Williams - He completed 10 of 17 passes for 113 yards. He also ran for another 40 yards and scored the Kougars’ only touchdown.

Lowell player of the game: Wildman - He was the workhorse once again for the Red Devils. He carried the ball 34 times for 144 yards and a touchdown.

“He ran like he weighed 220 pounds,” Lowell coach Keith Kilmer said of the 5-foot-9, 140-pound Wildman. “It was pretty fun to watch.”

Quote: “It’s obviously not where we want to be, but we’re gaining,” K.V. coach James Broyles said of his team’s progression this season. “We’ve made strides from the beginning of the year. There’s definitely some things to correct. We’re happy with some things, but going toe-to-toe (with Lowell) was great, but we expected to win as we do every week.”

Beyond the box score: K.V. last won the Milk Can with a 17-12 victory in 2014 when former Lowell assistant Brad Stewart was head coach of the Kougars. 

Up next: Hobart at Kankakee Valley (2-3, 0-1 NCC), 7 p.m. Friday; Lowell (4-1, 1-0 NCC) at Highland 7 p.m. Friday