LYNN — The KIPP football team overcame a slow start and had a huge second half Saturday afternoon, eventually rolling to a 33-6 win over Greater Lowell Tech at Manning Field. The defense was the story for KIPP, as the Panthers allowed less than 100 yards of total offense for the entire game.
“To be honest, we didn’t have the greatest week of practice and it definitely translated into the start of this game,” said KIPP coach Jim Rabbitt. “We came out with a sloppy start and made plenty of mistakes, and we needed our defense to bail us out a bit at the start. Eventually we were able to get back to our style of football and I was happy with the way the guys responded.”
Quarterback Piero Canales got into a great passing rhythm, completing 10-of-17 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for one touchdown. Running back Dave Filias stepped into the backfield after Daniel Oluwasuyi went down with an injury, and Filias finished with 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Victor Mafo had four receptions for 57 yards and one touchdown, while Joseph Tolentino had two receptions for 35 yards and one touchdown.
After a three-and-out on their first offensive possession of the game, KIPP forced a three-and-out on defense to get the ball right back. The Panthers capitalized this time around, running a seven-play drive that was capped off with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Canales to Tolentino to make it 6-0.
KIPP’s offense couldn’t get on the scoreboard for the rest of the first half, but the Panthers’ defense made sure that initial score held up. KIPP held Greater Lowell to -17 yards of total offense in the first half, never allowing a play of more than five yards at any point.
“I think we have one of the best defenses in the North Shore, and our guys have really rallied around the idea of not giving the other team an inch,” said Rabbitt. “Our guys really fly around on defense, they’re ball-hawks and they make plays. I’m really proud of the way those guys have stepped up.”
Despite having been in control for the entire first half, KIPP was in danger of throwing that all away early in the second half when Greater Lowell connected for a 73-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 6-6. But the veteran KIPP group never wavered, as the Panthers responded with an eight-play, 70-yard drive of their own and retook the lead after a 16-yard touchdown run by Filias.
From there, it was all KIPP. The Panthers’ defense held strong for the rest of the game, while Canales rushed for a touchdown and threw another to Mafo. Filias also rushed for another touchdown in the offensive barrage to close out the game.
KIPP (2-0) takes on cross-town rival Tech Friday night (7:30).
“We didn’t even need to tell the guys who we’re playing next week, they already know and they’re excited for it,” said Rabbitt. “This is a Thanksgiving rivalry game even though it’s not Thanksgiving, so we know everyone is going to be pumped up to play. We’re expecting our guys to rise to the occasion.”