WESTFORD — With a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the ball, Lowell coach John Florence said this year’s unit is the product of three years of hard work and chemistry.
If Friday night’s 21-0 win over Westford is any indication of what Lowell’s hard-hitting defense can accomplish, that chemistry has yielded a bond that will be hard to break.
The Red Raiders’ defense three times stopped the Grey Ghosts inside the 10-yard line to keep them off the scoreboard Friday night and open the season with the shutout win.
“It was great to see the defense make those stops,” said Florence, whose team’s three goal-line stands all came in the second half. “Defensive backs made a couple good plays there. The linebackers, defensive line, it was a really a team effort on the defense.”
Lowell was up, 21-0, with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter when Westford quarterback Luke Moran lofted a completion to fellow senior Will Puduski at the Lowell 1-yard line. Following a false-start penalty, Westford was pushed back to the 6.
After an incompletion and a rush for no gain, Moran peeled right, firing toward Puduski in the end zone. Just before Puduski could wrap his hands around the ball, Lowell defensive back Musa Mansary reached in and swatted the ball to the ground.
Moran went to Puduski again on fourth down, this time in the back-right corner of the end zone, but Mansary had his man beat again, this time picking off Moran.
Lowell took over at its 5-yard line but a muffed snap immediately put Westford back in business with a first down at the Lowell 6.
But senior linebacker Shy Cullen and defensive end Alex Quintero made their presence felt. On fourth and goal, Westford’s Ben Rodman pushed his way to the 1 before Lowell’s hulking front seven pushed back.
“All we do is play football, all the time, 24/7,” said Mansary of his fellow defenders. “[We] talk about football, play football, watch film all the time with the coaches, too. We all get together and bond.”
Lowell’s offense did its part as well. On the Red Raiders’ first possession, quarterback Brian Dolan — a Lawrence Academy transfer — raced 20 yards to the Westford 45. After a facemask penalty, a 28-yard scamper by Mason set up a 7-yard keeper by the quarterback for a 7-0 lead.
Following a Westford fumble at its 35-yard line, the Red Raiders went back to work. Three plays later, Dolan hit senior wide receiver Jack Galvin on a slant over the middle for a 34-yard touchdown pass, giving the Red Raiders a 14-0 advantage after one quarter.
“Those guys work well together,” said Florence. “They’ve grown up together. [Dolan] didn’t go to Lowell High at first, but they played junior high together. They’ve been friends. They already had that kind of bond together.”
Lowell boosted the lead to 21-0 on its first possession of the second half. Mason took a punt back 37 yards to Westford’s 13-yard line. Two plays later, he trotted in.