Football Dominates Possession Battle, Beats Choate 28-6, RB Tandem of Fernandez and Houghton Gain 370 Yards

Playing through a freezing rainstorm under the Saturday night lights of Phelps Stadium, Andover defeated a very tough Choate squad 28-6. Matt Fernandez ’06 rushed for over 200 yards and two touchdowns, and the Andover defense held the Choate offense to just 138 total yards and six points. Choate entered the game fresh off a 32-6 win over Exeter the previous week. Choate had a 2-0 record and had outscored its opponents 58-23, and its tailback had run for over 400 yards already on the season. Coach Modeste said “Choate’s game has always been ball control. Their goal was to get out to an early lead and have it stay that way, by holding onto the ball using the running game to pound the interior line.” The harsh field conditions, coupled with the steady wind and rain, made for a more rushing-oriented gameplan for both teams. After both teams traded unsuccessful possessions to start the game, Andover started its second possession pinned on its own six-yard line. The team did not remain there long, as Fernandez rushed to the right side and broke through the Choate defense for a 94-yard touchdown, putting Andover up 6-0 after a missed extra point attempt. After forcing another Choate punt, Andover answered with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Joey Lokitis ’06 to Andrew Badger ’06. The two-point conversion was successful, and Andover had an early 14-0 lead. Choate started the second quarter by stringing together a long drive that resulted in a 3 yard rushing touchdown that reduced the lead to 14-6 when the extra point attempt sailed wide left. Andover got the ball back and immediately responded with a 70-yard run by Charlie Houghton ’06, followed by a 24-yard Fernandez rushing touchdown that put the Blue up 20-6. Choate mounted a drive late in the quarter, but a Houghton interception to end the half stopped this threat. The third quarter opened with unsuccessful drives until Andover was able to run the ball into Choate territory. On the Choate 44-yard line, Houghton picked up a fumbled snap and ran it past the entire opposing team for a touchdown, giving Andover a 28-6 lead after a two-point conversion. Andover ran out the clock to preserve the victory. Fernandez finished the day with 213 rushing yards on 11 carries for two touchdowns, while Houghton rushed for 157 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Badger led the air attack, catching two passes from Lokitis for 81 yards and a touchdown. “Our line did a great job on both sides of the ball, and on offense opened up the game for us to break out for some big plays to get the important early lead. The downfield blocking by Badger and Tom Tassinari ’06 also helped us open up the field on the long plays.” said Coach Mo. The defense put in a tremendous collective effort, holding the Choate offense to just 84 yards on the ground, and 54 through the air. Brendan Gallagher ’06 led the defense with 12 tackles and two sacks, as did Captain Matt Ward ’06, who had 11 total tackles of his own. “The defense did an awesome job in containing the Choate running game,” Coach Mo said. “Gallagher, Captain Ward, and Peter Casey ’07 stopped any threats the Choate running game posed, and Tassinari was there to take care of the longer runs.” The early lead was crucial as the weather worsened throughout the game. By the third quarter, establishing any offensive rhythm was impossible. The Andover defense did not allow Choate’s offense to even sniff the end zone in the second half. Andover, looking to avenge last year’s 19-7 loss at home, takes on a very skilled Cushing team on Saturday at Cushing. The Penguins have opened its season with a 1-2 record, and are coming off a 27-16 loss at New Hampton last week.