LOWELL, Mass. -- Central Catholic's season could look a lot different right now, and Chuck Adamopoulos would probably be the first one to tell you.
The Raiders took an early season test against St. John's Prep and failed, rather miserably at that, with a lopsided loss and a probably a lot of empty feelings after they could muster next to nothing offensively against one of the premier defenses in the state.
There are usually one of two ways a team can go after a demoralizing loss like that; keep digging youself deeper and deeper, or pick yourself out of the funk.
It's easy to say that Adamopoulos's crew took road No. 2 after defeating Lowell last night, 42-34, for its sixth victory in a row at Cawley Stadium on the road. The Prep game was the turnaround for the Raiders, and now they find themselves right at the top of the heap in the very crowded Merrimack Valley Conference.
"In that [Prep] game, I thought our defense actually played pretty solid," said the Raiders head coach, whose team moved to 7-1 on the year. "We just went three-and-out all day and our defense really got tired. I think we only had three offensive plays in the fourth quarter. We had fumbled twice in the fourth quarter. But I saw enough in our line that day that I felt good about that. Michael [Milano] showed a lot in our scrimmages that we didn't panic about that game.
"I thought we learned a lot from that game. The next week we had North Andover, who is a good team, and we were down in the first half. I think we had a hangover from the Prep game. We rallied and had a really good second half and we just kind of used it as a springboard from there."
SECONDS TO SPARE
Things were almost going too swimmingly for the Raiders last night, and all it took was a holding call that negated a drive to wake up the home team. Lowell bounced back from a 20-7 hole to score 14 unanswered points after Cam Latta (four touchdown passes) found Alex Kasirye for a 21-20 lead.
The referees said there were two or three more seconds on the clock despite the scoreboard posting all zeroes after a Raiders punt right before halftime. Adamopoulos argued that the teams should be in the locker room for the half, but it's lucky those extra seconds stayed with the referees.
Latta tried throwing a pass to the right flat and D'andre Drummond-Mayire picked it off and took it 45 yards the other way for the 28-20 lead after a Milano two-point conversion rush.
"We caught a break on that last play with the interception for a touchdown," said Adamopoulos. "It kind of changed the way we were going into the half. We were definitely down at that point."
Lowell would take back the lead in the third quarter lead after Ngaiiva Mason sprinted 44 yards for the 34-28 lead. But Milano avoided the rush on a fourth-and-17 and found Cody Demers in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
Lowell would have several more chances to get points on the board, but the Raiders defense forced Latta into incompletions on nine of his last 10 throws, including an interception by Ryan Doherty to end the game.
CENTRAL CATHOLIC 42, LOWELL 34
Central Cath. (7-1) 20 - 8 - 0 - 14 -42
Lowell (6-2) 7 - 14 - 13 - 0 - 34
CC - Michael Barry 30 pass from Michael Milano ( Thomas Jenoski kick)
LO - Jack Galvin 46 pass from Cam Latta (Zach Noel kick)
CC - Milano 1 run (Jenoski kick)
CC - Cody Demers 25 pass from Milano (kick failed)
LO -Galvin 34 pass from Latta (Noel kick)
LO - Alex Kasirye 25 pass from Latta (Noel kick)
CC -D'andre Drummond-Mayire 45 INT return
LO - Kasirye 67 pass from Latta (Noel kick blocked)
LO - Ngaiiva Mason 44 run (Noel kick)
CC - Demers 34 pass from Milano (Jenoski kick)
CC - Santino Brancato 34 run (Jenoski kick)