WEST ANDOVER — Looking to remain in the Commonwealth Conference hunt, taking on Greater Lowell Saturday morning, Greater Lawrence instead made things too easy in the opening half for the visiting Gryphons.
Taking advantage of a couple fumbles, an interception and a botched kickoff coverage, Greater Lawrence scored four touchdowns before intermission and cruised to a 35-13 victory.
“Ever since the North Reading game (in Week 2) it’s been one of those things,” Greater Lawrence coach Tony Sarkis said of his team’s early turnovers. “We’ve shot ourselves in the foot way too many times, and (playing) a good team like Greater Lowell, we’re never going to recover.”
Entering play a half game ahead of the Reggies (2-2 conference, 3-2 overall), Lowell began five of its six first-half possessions inside Greater Lawrence territory and never had to travel more than 60 yards for any of its touchdowns.
“If you don’t give it up and get a couple extra drives, you have a shot at winning,” Gryphons coach Shane Abrams said after his team improved to 3-0, 4-1. “We changed a little bit offensively, changing our schemes up a little bit. We had a different kid in at quarterback, who was making his first start of the season. So we weren’t afraid to open it up a little bit more.”
With Jacob Trzcienski calling the signals, the Gryphons needed only 22 plays to open a 24-0 lead. After Benji Hatch began the scoring with a 4-yard run, the junior quarterback threw touchdown passes of 58 yards to Ryan Hickey and 32 yards to Nik Zioli before running in from 2 yards out with 19 seconds left before the half.
None of Greater Lowell’s first-half scoring drives lasted longer than 3:11.
“That’s a break down in coverage,” Sarkis said of his pass coverage. “We have plenty of talented kids, so that tells me it’s more of a mental focus than anything else. We’ll start on (the coach’s) end to make sure we’re doing what we need to do and find out who wants to play the rest of the year.”
Greater Lawrence found some momentum after intermission behind quarterback Shamil Diaz’ running. The senior first ran for all 44 yards on the Reggies’ first possession — the final 9 providing Greater Lawrence with its first points.
Diaz, who finished with 176 yards on 24 carries, ran for 51 yards and threw for 20 more on the Reggies’ ensuing possession, cutting the deficit to 24-13 on a 5-yard run with 10 minutes remaining.
But Lowell secured matters almost 7 minutes later on another Trzcienski to Hickey scoring pass.
“Every game now this late in the season means a lot,” Sarkis said. “We’ve taken some steps forward but now we’re not playing Reggie football, and that’s the most discouraging thing to me. We’re going to find out who wants to play and who doesn’t moving forward. That’s for sure.”
Greater Lowell 35, Greater Lawrence 13
Greater Lowell (3-0, 4-1): 14 14 0 7 — 35
Greater Lawrence (2-2, 3-2): 0 0 7 6 — 13
Greater Lowell — Benji Hach 4 run (Cole Blades kick) 4:56
Greater Lowell — Ryan Hickey 58 pass from Jacob Trzcienski (Blades kick) 2:32
Greater Lowell — Nik Zioli 32 pass from Trzcienski (Blades kick) 11:51
Greater Lowell — Trzcienski 2 run (Blades kick) 0:19
Greater Lawrence — Shamil Diaz 9 run (Kevin Matul kick) 9:31
Greater Lawrence — Diaz 5 run (kick failed) 10:00
Greater Lowell — Hickey 24 pass from Trzcienski (Blades kick) 3:24
RUSHING: Greater Lowell (41-122) — Hach 15-55, Kyle Proulx 7-32, Trzcienski 13-21, Gabe Rivera 2-8, Zioli 2-8, Team 1-(-2); Greater Lawrence (35-219) — Diaz 24-176, Mark Dejesus 8-39, Frankly Espinal 3-4
PASSING: Greater Lowell — Trzcienski 9-16-1, 180 yards; Greater Lawrence — Diaz 3-8-1, 17
RECEIVING: Greater Lowell — Hickey 3-97, Zioli 2-50, Proulx 1-19, King Mondiene 1-11, Jeremy Sar 1-10, Hach 1-(-7); Greater Lawrence — Espinal 1-14, Dejesus 1-6, Alvin Torres 1-(-3)