Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
Josh Lowman’s first field goal of the season came on the last play of a 34-31 win over Sparkman.
After his last-second field goal decides heart-stopping win, Austin kicker calmly returns to the practice field
By Mark Edwards
Even after making a last-second field goal to win a game, Josh Lowman’s Monday afternoon stayed about the same.
When the 3 o’clock bell rang at Austin High and his football teammates prepared for the start of practice at 3:20 p.m., Lowman and three other special teams players were already out there, working on extra points, going through a workout that would last about 21/2 hours.
Jack Roberson would snap the ball to holder Jonathan Poole, who would place the ball on a tee for Lowman to kick through the uprights. Jordan Norris would chase down the kick, returning it to a pile of balls next to Roberson so the process could start all over again.
In fact, nothing much was different for Lowman in his entire first day back in class since his 21-yard field goal lifted Austin over Sparkman 34-31 on Friday.
Well, except for this: “Some of the teachers and the other students were saying congratulations to me,” he said.
During a break in practice, Lowman played down his accomplishment, but it surely will stand as one of the most exciting moments of the Black Bears’ season.
Lowman is a junior who is in his first season with the Austin football varsity.
He has had the tough task of replacing all-state place-kicker Morgan Hull, who beat Bob Jones with a last-second field goal last year and is now a walk-on at Auburn.
Although Lowman has made 10 of 11 extra points this season, he had not made a field goal until the one Friday. Even so, that didn’t seem to matter when the team needed him at Sparkman, winners of the Class 6A, Region 8 title in two of the last three years.
Sparkman scored a touchdown to tie it at 31-31 with 1:02 to play, and immediately, Lowman began thinking about what might happen next.
“I was pretty sure that if we could get down close, it would come down to a kick,” said Lowman, who also plays soccer for Austin.
So Lowman and Poole went to the team’s kicking net on the sidelines and began warming up.
“I was hitting the ball pretty good, so I felt pretty confident,” Lowman said.
In the last seconds, Austin’s Justin Jones found Freddie Moore for a 45-yard pass completion on third-and-10. Moore got out of bounds, which stopped the clock with about three seconds to play.
At that moment, Austin coach David Norwood called “X squad,” which means that the place-kicking unit needs to hit the field. And the focus turned to Lowman.
As they set up, Poole gave Lowman a bit of last-second advice.
“I just told him to calm down, concentrate and take it like it was practice,” Poole said.
It helped that Moore got out of bounds after catching the long pass, because Austin had no timeouts left.
The clock stops for first downs but starts again after the chains move and the officials set the ball.
“That was big because we had all the time we needed,” Lowman said.
From there, the process worked just as well as it does on all of those afternoons on Austin’s practice field.
“I had a strong feeling that if we all did our job, he would make the kick,” Lowman said. “I was nervous, but it was a good snap, and I just tried to get the ball on the tee for Josh, and he made a good kick.”
Lowman’s first thought after his kick went through the uprights — get ready to be mobbed.
“I figured the rest of the team would come out on the field,” Lowman said.
That’s exactly what happened.
“Everybody went crazy,” Poole said, smiling. “I just hugged him and kept saying, ‘Good job.’ ”
But on Monday afternoon, it was back to work for Lowman, Poole, Roberson and Norris. Even though they went through kick after kick after kick, showing no sign that something exciting had happened Friday night, at least they now know all this work can pay off in a big way.
“Lowman put on a show,” Poole said.
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