METHUEN — If you haven't already, please add the name of Lowell senior R.J. Noel to the list of outstanding quarterbacks in the Merrimack Valley Conference.
Throwing a beautiful spiral most of the evening, Noel passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards and a score as the Red Raiders overwhelmed Methuen 41-14.
After splitting time at QB last year, Noel has taken over in a big way, leading Lowell to a 3-1 record. In the Red Raiders' lone loss, 44-41 to Nashua South, he threw for a school-record 501 yards.
"I think I'm up there with (Nick) LaSpada (of Billerica)," said Noel. "I worked hard over the summer."
Lowell coach John Florence wasn't ready to make comparisons, but he said: "I think LaSpada developed early and R.J. has worked at it and gotten better and better."
Whatever the case, Noel looked sharp last night, particularly in the first half. With Methuen's offense stumbling, Noel completed beautiful TD passes of 26 and 17 yards to give the Red Raiders a 14-0 halftime lead.
Eric Lacroix led the Rangers (2-2) on a 68-yard drive to open the second half, scoring from the 2-yard-line to cut the score to 14-7, but the Red Raiders came back with three straight touchdowns to put the game out of reach, the third coming after recovering a line-drive kickoff that bounced off a Methuen lineman.
Lacroix (19 carries, 93 yards rushing and 80 yards passing) scored his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late. Lowell outgained Methuen 471-277 for the game.
"We just didn't play very well," said disappointed Methuen coach Tom Tone. "I thought we were ready to play."
Lowell 41, Methuen 14
Lowell (3-1):7 7 13 14 — 41
Methuen (2-2):0 0 7 7 — 14
L — Jack Galvin 37 pass from R.J. Noel (Connor McHugh kick), 5:24
L — Gilberto Brown 17 pass from Noel (McHugh kick), 6:51
M — Eric Lacroix 2 run (Lacroix kick), 8:03
L — Noel 1 run (McHugh kick), 4:52
L — Brown 26 pass from Noel (McHugh kick), 0:38
L — Alex Kasirye 8 run (McHugh kick), 7:48
M — Lacroix 5 run (Lacroix kick), 3:26
L — Cam Latta 33 run (McHugh kick), 2:01
RUSHING: M (42-197) — Eric Lacroix 19-93, Ryan Savastano 19-79, Austin George-Williams 2-12, William Weinhold 2-13; L (38-229) — R.J. Noel 17-100, Alex Kasirye 13-67, Ngaliva Mason 6-27, Cam Latta 1-33, Kack Galvin 1-2
PASSING: M — Lacroix 11-19-0, 80; L — Noel 13-22-0, 242
RECEIVING: M — Colin Langford 5-51, Weinhold 2-13, George-Williams 3-12, Corey Shepherd 1-4; L — Kasirye 1-16, Galvin 7-163, Gilberto Brown 2-43, Ryan Garrigan 3-20