Co-Captain John Simourian ’16 and Jack Belluche ’16, burst off the line, blowing by Deerfield blockers en route to the kicker. A Deerfield lineman pushed Belluche off the ball while he was shooting the gap but was unable to stop Simourian, who extended to block the kick. From there, Belluche snatched up the football and outran the opposing defense to the end zone to secure two points for Andover, narrowing its deficit to 13-9. Ultimately, Andover would lose 27-23, bringing its record to 3-3.
Michael Codrington ’18 said, “So [we ran] a FG block play we had put in two days before, in which Belluche shot the gap behind Simourian. Belluche got pushed out of the way, and Simourian was able to block the kick. Belluche was able to pick up the return ball and, from there, it was basically a foot-race, and Belluche can run with almost anyone – so that was an easy two points.”
Entering the fourth quarter, Andover trailed 20-9. After a relatively quiet first half, the offense began to find its groove.
Quarterback Robert Jones ’16 connected with running back Ben Anthony ’16 for multiple scores on consecutive possessions in the second half. Anthony’s touchdowns would give Andover a 24-20 lead late in the fourth quarter. On the day, he accumulated 89 yards and hauled in three touchdowns, off of a screen pass, an out route and a seam down the middle.
Jones has thrown for over 1000 yards through six games this season, averaging 170 yards per contest. His eleven to two touchdown-to-interception ratio is stellar, and his low turnover rate has kept the ball in Andover’s hands consistently.
Despite the late touchdowns, Andover struggled to create offense in the first half. Once again, it played with a largely debilitated offensive line, which faced a daunting task in blocking Deerfield’s massive defensive tackles.
Defenders consistently swarmed Jones, leaving less time for the quarterback to find wideouts Hallvard Lundevall ’16 and Belluche on the outside. “They had some large lineman, so their pass rush was very strong,” Lundevall said, “That definitely limited our time in the passing game, and they were playing a cover-3. Their defensive backs were solid, and they had a very tall free safety, which made it extremely difficult to make plays over the top.”
Because of the swarming interior defense, Andover was forced to rely on outside runs and quick screens. The play calling of Head Coach Leon Modeste enabled Jones to find Anthony on the outside for touchdowns. Anthony said, “Coach [Modeste] was able to see the weakness in the defense and make the right play calls. Rob was then just able to throw some really good balls. His accuracy was stellar, and the ball was being put in the right spot.”
The Andover defense struggled without top defensive end James Antoine ’16, who was out with a strained meniscus. “Injuries are really setting us back,” said Coach Modeste.
However, the absence of veterans presented opportunity for players who were younger and less-experienced and allowed the remaining leaders to impose a strong presence. “Defensively, Co-Captain Jumanne Ford ’16 stepped up in the absence of James. Larson Tolo ’18 really stepped up taking reps at noseguard and linebacker because a lot of our starters were banged up. He grinded, and he made some plays for us,” said Codrington.
Antoine said, “Obviously, at the end of the day, we didn’t get the win, and we didn’t all play well enough. However, I feel like every week is about getting better, and I think my injury put more focus on the depth we have at my position. Although the final score may not show that, we made more plays than we made mistakes despite playing with relatively inexperienced guys.”
Although the contest was not very defensive-oriented, three Senior starters, Simourian, Ford and Dewitt Burnham ’16, showed their leadership on that side of the ball. The trio accounted for 45 percent of the team’s defensive tackles and played nearly the entire game. “We couldn’t get [our Seniors] off the field,” said Coach Modeste.
With the loss to Deerfield, Andover’s win and loss totals are equal. The team looks to get its winning percentage over .500 with a victory on Saturday against an explosive Worcester team.