By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ERMA — There have been times in recent seasons when the Lower Cape May Regional High School football team was simply out-talented in losses.
But this one was much different.
The Caper Tigers had a three-game winning streak stopped after surrendering two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 24-13 loss to Gloucester Catholic on Saturday.
“I said before the season, we have a schedule that’s conducive for us to be competitive and that has shone through,” Lower coach Brian Hindle said. “At the end of the day, this is a game we felt we should have won.
“It was communication stuff, small errors and bad execution. We didn’t change any of our core concepts. It just came down to us not being able to execute.”
Trailing 12-7, Lower finished off a 14-play, 69-yard drive with a touchdown, quarterback Connor Eckel sneaking into the end zone from one yard out. Lower failed on the two-point try, but took a 13-12 lead with 8:39 to play in the game.
But a big return of a short kickoff by Gloucester Catholic’s Mike Dougherty gave the Rams the ball at the Lower Cape May 33-yard line to start their next drive. Two plays later, DaShaun Harris ran in from 30 yards out to give his team the lead again.
Lower then fumbled two plays into its next possession and Harris sealed the proceedings for Gloucester Catholic with a three-yard touchdown run with less than three minutes to play.
Harris opened the scoring for the Rams (2-5) with a five-yard touchdown run with 53 seconds to play in the first quarter. The extra point kick missed, though, and Lower came back to take a 7-6 lead after Pat Moore’s acrobatic 22-yard touchdown reception of an Eckel pass, followed by Moore’s extra-point kick.
Da’jaun Vales restored Gloucester Catholic’s lead with a 55-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half.
Lower (4-3) responded to retake the lead, only to see the Rams close well and come away with the victory.
The game was marred by penalties, particularly of the personal foul variety, especially in the second half. Nine personal fouls were called overall.