LOWELL — Central Catholic’s conference game at Cawley Stadium last night proved to be so wild, crazy and often confusing that coach Chuck Adamopoulos wasn’t sure if his team’s 8-point victory was unique or commonplace.
All that was known for sure was his Raiders scored 14 points over the game’s final 9 minutes to pull out a key Merrimack Valley Conference road victory over Lowell.
“A 42-34 game is not my style,” a relieved Adamopoulos said after his Raiders improved to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in conference. “But it was a good win. You knew coming into the season Lowell was one of those teams if you were going to win this league.
A mere 3 minutes later Adamopoulos answered a question with: “We’ve had a few wins like this where we’ve had to come from behind. These kids think they should win games.”
Central, which led by 13 in the first quarter and by seven at half, gave up two long scoring plays in the third quarter and trailed 34-28 entering the final period.
That was when Mike Milano found his inner Tom Brady. On a fourth-and-17 snap, Central’s sophomore quarterback shook off a would-be sack, made a 360-degree spin then found Cody Demers 34-yards down the middle for the winning score.
“Everything was going through my mind,” Milano said. “I knew my line was going to protect me. Right when that guy came in, I made a quick move and my linemen picked him up right after that and I saw Cody Demers wide open, and he’s a miraculous receiver.
Coming of age: Milano, who entered the game with four touchdown passes, enjoyed his biggest game of the season. He threw for the trifecta with touchdown passes of 30 yards to Mike Barry and 25 to Demers in the first quarter. He finished with seven completions and 134 yards on 15 attempts.
“He’s come a long way,” Adamopoulos said of his signal caller. “He’s very calm for a sophomore. He shows a lot of leadership.”
Cool when confusion reigns: The first half appeared over after a Central punt, but the on-field timekeeper ruled the clock reading all zeros was wrong and put another 3 seconds back on. Adamopoulos vehemently disagreed.
“I wanted off the field,” the Central coach said.
But instead of taking a knee at the Lowell 45, quarterback Cam Latta attempted an ill-advised screen pass to the right sidelines. The overthrown ball ended up in D’Andre Drummond Mayire’s hand and he had nothing but open space on a scamper to the end zone that provided Central a 28-21 halftime lead.
“Earlier in the game they hurt us with that screen,” Drummond-Mayire said. “They had the back come out and cut me ... We were in man coverage this time. I shoved the cut block and saw the ball come at me. didn’t even know if I’d caught it, I just took off.”
Central Catholic 42, Lowell 34
Central Catholic (7-1, 2-0): 20 8 0 14 — 42
Lowell (6-2, 1-1): 7 14 13 0 — 34
CC — Michael Barry 30 pass from Mike Milano (Tom Jenoski kick), 9:38
L — Jack Galvin 46 pass from Cam Latta (Zach Noel kick), 9:05
CC — Milano 1 run (Jenoski kick), 2:36
CC — Cody Demers 25 pass from Milano (kick failed), 0:00
L — Galvin 34 pass from Latta (Noel kick), 2:30
L — Alex Kasirye 25 pass from Latta (Noel kick), 0:36
CC — D’Andre Drummond-Mayire 44 interception return (Milano run), 0:00
L — Kasirye 67 pass from Latta (kick blocked), 7:36
L — Ngaiiva Mason 44 run (Noel kick), 2:10
CC — Demers 34 pass from Milano (Jenoski kick), 8:55
CC — Santino Brancato (Jenoski kick), 2:04
RUSHING: CC (42-165) — Brancato 18-106, Drummond-Mayire 11-46, Milano 10-16, Michael Balsamo 1-3, Demers 2-(-6); L (19-84) — Mason 6-42, Latta 7-22, Shyheim Cullen 6-20
PASSING: CC — Milano 7-15-134 (0 interceptions); L — Latta 12-30-236 (3)
RECEIVING: CC — Demers 2-59, Barry 2-38, ryan Doherty 1-24, Zachary Coffey 1-14, Drummond-Mayire 1-(-1); L — Kasirye 5-130, Galvin 5-94, Mike Holder 1-6, tom smith 1-6
Laying down: Leading by one, Central finished the game's scoring on a 34-yard run by Santino Brancato with 2:04 left on a play Lowell allowed the senior to run untouched in order to get the ball back. Coming up big: After watching Latta complete nine-of-11 attempts in one stretch, Central finally got a pass rush going that harried the Lowell quarterback into missing 11 of his final 12 attempts which included Ryan Doherty's second pick of the night on Lowell's final play. "We just stepped up," Doherty said. "We knew they weren't hurting us on the run, they were hurting us on the deep ball. But we just stepped it up, and shut down the deep ball."