Crown Point players celebrate with the old leather helmet trophy after defeating Lowell 28-21 in the opening game of the season on Friday. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Crown point 28, Lowell 21
LOWELL (0-1) 7 - 7 - 7 - 0 === 21
CROWN POINT (1-0) 14 - 0 - 7 - 7 === 28
9-17-12, 63 degrees in CP
CP (7-0) Tyler Smith, 69-yard screen pass form Jake Jatis.
Zach Sneiderwine kick 11:20 left.
LOWELL (7-7) George Fields, 6-yard run. 86-yard run, 10 plays.
Colton Wilkey kick. 6:36 left.
CP (14-7) Tyler Smith, 99-yard interception return. Zach Sneiderwine kick. 5:28 left
LOWELL (14-14) George Fields, 1-yard run. Colton Wilkey kick. :38 left.
CP (21-14) Tristan Peterson, 1-yard run. 85-yard drive, 6 plays.
Zach Sneiderwine kick. 3:38 left.
LOWELL (21-21) George Fields, 8-yard run. 50-yard drive, 8 plays Colton Wilkey kick. :00 left
CP (28-21) Zach Plesac, 17-yard pass from Jake Jatis.
62 yards drive, 2 plays. 2:47 left.
RUSHING: LOWELL (46 carries, 207 yards, 3 TDs) George Fields (HB) 25 carries, 191 yards, 3 TDs; Nick Hamm (FB) 6-22 yards, Danny Garza (FB) 1-3 yards, Tyler Hopkins (HB) 2-6 yards, Bryan Thomas (QB) 12 /minus-15 yards (6 sacks- 33 yards).
CROWN POINT (30 carries, 116 yards, one TD ) Tristan Peterson (HB) 17-36, one TD, Jake Jatis (QB) 13 carries, 70 yards.
PASSING: LOWELL: Bryan Thomas (QB) 4-8, 82 yards, one interception; CROWN POINT: Jake Jatis (QB) 10-17, 234 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: LOWELL: Wesley Hardin (WR) 3-24 yards, Michael Hilbrich (WR) 1-58 yards; CROWN POINT: Zach Plesac (WR) 8-161 yards, TD; Tyler Smith (WR) 1-69 yards, TD; Braxton Rice (WR) 1-4 yards.
TURNOVERS: LOWELL (1) interception; CROWN POINT (1) fumble.
KICKING: Zach Sneiderwine (PK) 3-of-3 extra points, 0-1 field goals (19 yards), one touchback; Colton Wilkey (PK) 3-for-3 extra points.
Updated: August 21, 2012 2:34PM
CROWN POINT — From purely an entertainment standpoint, Friday night’s Lowell-Crown Point season opening game was a big success.
Crown Point, as it always hopes to do, displayed some big-play offense and attacking defense, rolling up over 300 total yards on offense and blitzing for six sacks of Lowell quarterback Bryan Thomas. But the visiting Red Devils, as they traditionally want to do, freed up the tailback, this year junior George Fields, for almost 200 yards rushing and repeatedly rallied to stay even with a bigger, favored foe.
And we had a big finish.
Taking over at their own 38 with the game tied 21-21 and just 3:21 left in the game, Crown Point showed the big play ability they hoped they’d have this season.
Junior quarterback Jake Jatis moved his team 62 yards in two pass plays to senior receiver Zach Plesac, scoring the winning touchdown in a 28-21 season opening show before about 4,000 fans in Crown Point.
The outcome was almost a relief to Crown Point, an encouraging but big disappointment (if that’s possible) for Lowell. And a sign that both teams will have a good season.
“We finally battled Crown Point evenly in my regime,” said a very disappointed third year Lowell coach Keith Kilmer, who sat through losses 27-6 in 2011 and 37-6 in 2010. “But how’s this game going to define us? Are we going to be able to bounce back, own up to our mistakes and get better? Or are we going to feel sorry for ourselves because we fought hard, battled hard and came up short?
“I think we’re pretty resilient this group of kids. We’ll show up tomorrow morning ready to get better.”
CP rookie head coach Kevin Enright, the former Bulldog defensive coordinator under former coach (now CPHS principal) Chip Pettit, seemed more relieved that the first game was over and that his team could now attack the bulk of the season.
“We fought through. Overcame at the end,” said Enright, who has been at Homewood-Flossmoor the last three seasons (even though he’s always lived in Crown Point). Both teams did.
“This rivalry, you can’t put a score on rivalries like this. Kids come out here from neighboring communities and they battle. Lowell just epitomized that. They came out here and they fought.”
What you noticed about Crown Point was that they were not afraid to lose a close game at home.
In a tie game, with a junior quarterback, the CP coaches called a first down pass play deep down the field. It wasn’t so much that Jatis hit Plesac for 45 yards to the Lowell 17-yard-line with three minutes to play. It was that CP would even call that play.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” said Enright. “We expect Jake to make plays. He’s a great kid and a good athlete. We expect that out of him.”
From the 17 yard line, Jatis (6-4, 195) rolled out to his right and waited until Plesac (6-2, 180), CP’s star right-hander pitcher during the baseball season, curled around and between two Lowell defenders in the end zone for a 17-yard completion that would win the game with 2:47 to play.
This was a high energy game on a rare 65-degree August night.
Crown Point scored soon after receiving the opening kickoff. A wide receiver screen pass to Tyler Smith broke clean into the secondary and the CP senior went 69 yards touchdown for a touchdown in the first minute of the game.
But Lowell drove 86 yards in 11 plays, shocked the CP defense with a 58-yard pass from Thomas down the middle of the field to senior Michael Hilbrich who took it to the CP 15-yard-line.
George Fields scored from the six yard line to tie the game 7-7 with 6:36 left in the first quarter. The Devils stopped CP without a first down on the next possession and Fields (5-10, 177) broke loose on a pitchout to the wide side of the field and raced 78 yards before junior defensive back Zack Bucci tripped him at the CP 10-yard line.
That might have been the undervalued play of the night defensive because Smith, CP’s only two way player then intercepted an ill-advised pass by Thomas just outside the CP end zone and ran 99 yards to make it 14-7.
In the second quarter, Lowell tied the game when Smith fumbled a punt and Lowell linebacker Mitch Leckrone recovered at the CP 11-yard line.
Fields carried four consecutive plays and scored from the 1-yard-line with 38 seconds left in the half. CP forced two Lowell punts in the third quarter before the Bulldogs took the lead. With the Devils concentrating on halfback Tristan Peterson.
Jatis broke loose on QB option runs of 47 and 24 yards to the one yard line. Peterson (6-0, 170), who gained almost 1,000 yards as a sophomore, scored from the 1-yard-line to give CP a 21-14 lead with 3:38 left in the third period.
Lowell tied the game a third time when Fields ran the kickoff back to the 50-yard line.
Lining up in a double tight end, three back set, the Devils then drove 50 yards in eight plays with Fields scoring from the eight to even the score 21-21 on the final play of the third period.
Crown Point drove the ball 66 yards in 14 plays only to have new kicker Zach Sneiderwine miss a 19-yard field goal with 6:52 left in the game.
Lowell then got a 16-yard run from Fields to the Red Devil 41, but a penalty stalled the drive.
CP took over at their 38 after a short punt and Jatis dropped back and fired the deep first down pass to Plesac (6-2, 180) who grabbed it over Wes Hardin, Lowell’s senior defensive back.
Then on the next play, again on first down, Jatis rolled out and waited for Plesac to come free in the end zone between Lowell defenders Bryan Thomas and Eddie Simmons.
“I thought we had enough time to move the ball,” he said “It wasn’t a hurry-up situation at all. We didn’t get out of our normal scheme. We just had two kids make plays when it counted. I’m proud of them.
“This one may haunt us for a while,” said Kilmer. “We had our chances. Their kids made the plays to win at they end. That’s where our kids have to grow up. We’ll make the plays. We made more plays against them this year than we did the last two years.
“We had a series where we went Power-I (no wide receivers, one halfback, two fullbacks),” said Kilmer, “and were able to spread out their 3-3 stack and we started running the ball. He wears No. 6 for us for a reason.
“Up front, we got whipped most of the night. When it mattered, we stepped up and ran the ball.”
Enright, making his Crown Point debut as head coach, was glad his “first game” was out of the way. He commented that it didn’t feel like it was anything out of the ordinary.
“No, it didn’t,” he said on the field afterwards. “Its just that my title is different. A far as my feelings, you get nervous for every game to a certain extent. But I didn’t feel like it was new. That’s more for others to talk about.
“Lowell’s whole team plays football the right way. They’re old school. That staff’s been together for awhile. They have a system, They have a program and they believe in it. They fight you. Hats off to them.”
OPENER NOTES: The crowd of about 4,000 was less than capacity at CP and less than this match up has drawn in the last 10-15 years.
Speculation centered around the fact that this is an extremely early (Aug. 17) first game, school has not yet started and some folks aren’t even thinking about high school yet.
Also, Lowell was 5-5 last year and didn’t bring the crowd they have in past years.
There appeared to be no serious injuries on either side, good news especially for Lowell, which had 55 players in uniform.
Coach Keith Kilmer said that senior QB Bryan Thomas will continue to double as the Lowell safety for now.