Friday Night Hero: South Rowan’s Thomas Lowe
By Bret Strelow
LANDIS ó Thomas Lowe was separated from football last season, and it made him sick.
“I caught pneumonia and was out of school for about two weeks,” Lowe said. “The life was just taken right out of me because I didn’t have anything to do. Football was all I had.”
Lowe, dismissed from East Rowan’s team after the third game of 2008, enrolled at South Rowan but didn’t play immediately for the Raiders.
Now a senior, he’s split carries with D’Andre Harris in South’s two-back set. Harris sustained a pulled hamstring in the first half against Carson on Friday, and Lowe helped lead the Raiders to a 46-21 victory.
He rushed 23 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns, with 16 carries and 87 yards coming after Harris left the lineup.
“He never skipped a beat,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “You never know what’s going to happen, but he stepped up for him and played his little hind end off. To know one of your cohorts back there goes down, it’s a pretty big blow, and he was not afraid to step up and lead.”
A second consecutive 100-yard game pushed Lowe into ninth place in Rowan County history with 3,017 career yards.
Lowe ranks fourth in the county this season with 843 yards, and Harris is next with 682. Quarterback Blake Houston is also a running threat, and a potent ground game has contributed to South’s 7-2 start.
Two touchdowns apiece from Lowe and Harris put Carson in a 25-0 hole, and Harris injured his left leg on a 47-yard reception.
“Thomas walked over to him and said, ‘Don’t worry about it; we’ve got your back,’ ” offensive coordinator Steve London said.
“He’s never been anything to me other than, ‘Yes sir, no sir.’ If I asked him to run through a brick wall, I think he’d try to. He’s a good kid, smart kid, who’s earned the respect of this team and the coaches.”
Already missing Harris, South’s backfield depth took a hit when Josh Suber suffered a knee injury on special teams.
The Raiders often went to a four-receiver package with Lowe lining up to the left or right of Houston, who continued to take shotgun snaps.
Lowe broke loose for a 23-yard gain shortly after Carson closed within 32-14 and had five rushes for 40 yards on an eight-play scoring drive. He capped South’s next series with a 13-yard touchdown.
“The offensive line, Blake, they got behind me and said, ‘You have to be the horse,’ ” Lowe said. “The offensive line buckled down, Blake buckled down and we all just took one big stride with it.”
Lowe uses a combination of speed and strength ó his powerful legs produced a midseason squat of 500 pounds ó to wear down defenses.
East coaches resisted the urge to pull Lowe up from the jayvee team as a freshman, and he rushed for 1,779 yards in his first varsity season.
He recorded three 100-yard games prior to his dismissal as a junior, and Rollins said this summer was an important time for Lowe to become comfortable with his new teammates.
“It helped him bond with the guys and become part of something,” Rollins said. “He realized, what we do here, we take a lot of pride in using everybody that we have on our field. We’re not a one-dimensional team, and we don’t believe in a one-dimensional team.
“He understood that coming in, and that was going to be a big challenge. I think he realizes ó I know he does ó this is about the team and what we do together as a group. That showed Friday night.”