LOWELL — Haverhill fended off Lowell for as long as it could.
Forcing five turnovers kept the Hillies in the Thanksgiving Day hunt, but motivation ended up playing a bigger role. With a share of the MVC Large title on the line, Lowell literally beat up Haverhill, 36-23.
The Red Raiders finish at 9-2, tied with playoff representative Andover and Central Catholic. Haverhill wraps up its best season in recent memory with an 8-3 record.
Four of the turnovers came in the first half as a Joshua Dion fumble recovery turned into a 30-yard Patrick Yale field goal 13 plays later for a 3-0 Hillie lead, and a Stephane Bristol swipe thwarted Lowell a yard away from the end zone.
But the Red Raiders wouldn’t be denied. They forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety followed by three straight touchdown-scoring possessions in the second quarter to take an insurmountable 23-9 advantage into the final 24 minutes. Lowell rang up four takeaways of its own on the day. Battling through a leg injury suffered against Chelmsford in his last game, quarterback Cam Latta was stellar for Lowell, completing 16 of 26 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, two in the game-changing second quarter.
Just as importantly, the Red Raiders were able to effectively bottle up Hillie standout Chance Brady, holding the senior without any breakout runs until the final minutes of the contest. He did become the fifth player in area history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season and scored his 32nd touchdown of the fall.
At the end of a 30-yard dash — his best of the day that got him over the 100-yard plateau, Brady was clobbered by two Lowell defenders. After several tense minutes, he was assisted to the sidelines and later carted off the field after the game.
“He’s a little banged up, his head’s a little woozy, but he’ll be fine,” Hillie head coach Tim O’Connor said of Brady, who joined Jordan Hunt, Joshua Dion and Shain Roche in the injured ranks yesterday. “Lowell did a helluva job, they were very physical on both sides of the ball, and that’s where the game was lost.