Varsity football clinches fourth straight playoff berth with 14-7 win over Lowell on Homecoming

Matthew Mahoney

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With the Rangers clinging onto a 14-7 lead, the Lowell Red Arrows drove down deep into Ranger territory. After starting on its own 19-yard line, Lowell ended up all the way on the FHC 3.5 yard line. On 4th and 1 with less than four yards to go until the endzone, the Red Arrows handed off the ball; juniors Carson Deines and Carson Mocherman came to the rescue, stopping Lowell short of a first down at the line of scrimmage and sealing the game.

For Carson Deines and the rest of the FHC defense, this play was a testament to how dominating the Ranger defense has been in the red zone for much of this season.

“I just think the physicality of this team is something special,” Carson said. “We all get after it and are willing to fight for each other; everyone has each other’s back and are all willing to lay it on the line.”

To start the game, however, the storyline was the Ranger offense. After receiving the kickoff, the Rangers went 70 yards over a span of five minutes to create the 7-0 lead for FHC. The drive was capped off by a run from junior Joey Wise, who lowered his shoulder and out-muscled the Lowell defender en route to the 9-yard score.

“[The touchdown] felt great,” Joey said. “I think it was really important to get an early score to set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Due to some penalties combined with an efficient run-stopping defense, the Red Arrows were forced to punt on their first offensive possession, putting the Rangers at their own 45-yard line to start the drive. After two very minimal gains on the first two downs, senior Jimmy Scholler was sacked, forcing a three-and-out and a Ranger punt. Fortunately for FHC, the defense forced a three-and-out from Lowell, once again giving the Rangers advantageous field position. 

For the next couple of possessions from each side, both teams traded punts; neither offense could find its rhythm. 

“We have to get our offense rolling again before the playoffs,” head coach Tim Rogers said. “If you want to win playoff games, you have to have a balance on offense and defense.”

However, on the very next offensive possession for FHC, Carson Deines lined up at fullback, carrying the ball into the endzone for six before the ball was knocked loose. With 5:07 remaining in the first half, the Rangers now had a two-score lead with the Red Arrows trailing 14-0.

Just as the FHC offense woke up, so did Lowell’s. Following a stop on 3rd down for the FHC defense, Lowell’s Doak Dean ran it up the middle to convert a crucial 4th down. With the Red Arrows continuing to find success, Lowell’s Andy Anschutz caught the ball in the endzone for the score for the 5-yard reception. With just five seconds remaining in the half afterward, the Rangers returned to the locker room with a 14-7 advantage. 

The story of the second half on both sides was simple: defense. Over the entirety of the second 24 minutes, neither team scored a single point. For FHC, star performers were senior Brandon Weiskopf and sophomore Tyler Weaver—along with juniors Mason Wiltz, Joey Wise, and Carson Deines. Brandon had a whopping 10 tackles on the night, making his presence very noticeable on the line of scrimmage with Mason, who added to the tackle total with 3 of his own. Carson and Tyler both had 5 tackles, and Carson also added 5 assists on top of that. 

Midway through the third quarter, Jimmy tossed the ball up deep into Lowell territory, but the ball was intercepted by Lowell’s Brett Spanbauer. Thankfully for the Rangers, the FHC remained disciplined and once again forced a punt. For the remaining part of the quarter, it seemed like it was punt-after-punt after both offenses went cold, in large part due to the quality of both defenses. 

To start the fourth quarter, the Rangers had the ball—but this wasn’t for long. Six seconds into the quarter, Jimmy threw his second interception of the day. Despite a couple of turnovers, Jimmy had an efficient day through the air as he went 12/17 for 117 yards. Junior Jonah Spates was once again the leading receiver, hauling in 57 yards through the air on 5 receptions, averaging 11.4 yards per catch. 

With the Red Arrows now having the ball, they began to drive down the field at will until they reached near the endzone. On 4th and inches, the Ranger defense came up big once again, stuffing the Lowell run with 8:12 remaining in the game. When the time came to show up, the FHC defense did exactly that.

“I don’t care how much yardage other teams’ offenses produce,” Rogers said. “We have only given up one defensive touchdown in the last eight quarters; I think we have a good plan, and our defensive players are executing at a high level.”

After the Red Arrow defense remained potent once again, the Rangers were forced into yet another 4th and short. FHC punted, and Lowell now had just under six minutes to tie or win the game, starting the possession at their own 19-yard line. Lowell started to really get things going offensively, but they were forced into a tough situation as they faced a 4th and 6 with 2:12 remaining. The nerve-wracking down was converted, and the Red Arrows continued to march down. 

Following the conversion, Lowell’s Grant Pratt ran up the middle for a gain of 8 yards, giving the Red Arrows a 1st and 10 from the FHC 12-yard line. After three short gains, the Red Arrows walked up to the line of scrimmage, only needing 1 yard to continue the game and 3.5 yards to be in a position to tie or win the game. This is when the pair of Carsons—Carson Deines and Carson Mocherman—combined to stuff the Red Arrows, clinching the win for FHC in thrilling fashion. 

This moment was emotional and exciting for everyone involved. Not only was this a fierce rivalry win for the Rangers played in front of the biggest crowd of the year on Homecoming, but this win puts varsity football at 6-2 on the season, sealing a spot in the playoffs for FHC.

“This is one of the top regular-season wins [in my time at FHC],” Rogers said. “We had a lot on the line with Homecoming, a playoff berth, and playing our arch-rival; this win was special.”

Now at 6-2 overall on the season, the Rangers also move onto 4-1 in conference play. With a favorable matchup in Greenville ahead next week, FHC is looking to improve, clean up some mistakes, and get another win before the playoffs begin.

“If you want to make a run in the playoffs, you have to get as many home games as possible. This win [and potentially next week] should help us solidify a first-round playoff game, and maybe even more.”