LOWELL – An episode of “Little House on the Prairie” turned into a Wild West shootout as the Lowell Red Raiders defeated the Malden Golden Tornadoes Friday night at Cawley Stadium.
After a stagnant and sloppy first half, both teams came out on fire in the second half. The Red Raiders took the opening kickoff and traveled 73 yards in two plays and 24 seconds to extend their lead to 13-0. Josh Villanueva (12 carries, 164 yards, two touchdowns) peeled off a 35 yard rush to set up a 38-yard touchdown pass from Matt Smith (13-of-23, 236 yards) to Keith Lynch (eight catches, 146 yards), one of four touchdown hookups between the two.
Lynch made the play a memorable one, making a one-handed grab on the run across the middle before turning up field.
Malden fired back immediately, needing just four plays and 1:50 to travel 49 yards. Jared Martino found Isaiah Likely for a 34-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 13-7.
The teams exchanged touchdowns twice more before the Red Raiders put the game out of reach, with Smith, Lynch, and Villanueva grinding out the clock to give the Red Raiders (3-7) the win in their final home game of the season.
A.J. Pagan had a solid game on defense and also added a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Both teams were plagued by miscues and missed opportunities in the first half. The Red Raiders scored on the opening drive of the game after Lynch recovered Lowell’s onside kick, but things drastically slowed down from there.
Malden had a chance to tie the game later in the first quarter when Danley Exilhomme intercepted a pass in the back of the end zone and returned it 106 yards to the Lowell 3-yard line. But Lowell’s defense clamped down and got an end zone interception of their own, with Lynch hauling in the errant pass and taking a knee in the end zone.
The teams’ first-half woes continued as they combined to go 4-for-13 on third down and 0-for-4 on fourth down.
Malden was called for 13 penalties for 135 yards.