Rushing Attack Propels Football Over Cushing, Houghton and Fernandez Run for 400 Yards

Last Saturday, the Andover Football team traveled to Cushing and came away with a convincing 49-34 win behind the efforts of tailbacks Charlie Houghton ’06 and Matt Fernandez ’06, who combined to rush for over 400 yards and five touchdowns. Cushing entered the game missing some of its starters to injuries, and its normally rushing-oriented offense had taken on more of a passing-oriented look. The Penguins had a better passing game than expected, as well. Cushing’s home field is made of a new turf playing surface, called Evergrass, which Coach Modeste was grateful for. “The rain was still coming down during the game, but the biggest difference was that we were able to get good footing on the turf, because we didn’t have any mud to deal with like last week.” Andover picked up where they left off last week, and opened the game with three scores within the first three minutes of the game. Two Joey Lokitis ’06 touchdown passes of 60 yards to Tom Tassinari ’06 and of 21 yards to Jason Soule ’06, with a 48 yard touchdown run by Houghton sandwiched in between, gave Andover a quick 21-0 lead. Peter Casey ’07 and Tassinari stopped Cushing’s first two drives by each intercepting passes. The score would remain until Cushing scored on a nine yard pass ten seconds into the second quarter to close the deficit to 21-7. Within a minute and 10 seconds, Andover drove back down into Cushing territory, and Fernandez ran in for a six yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, but Andover held a 27-7 lead. The second quarter wound down, but not before Cushing scored on another 28 yard pass, which Andover answered with a 47 yard Houghton run for a touchdown, bringing the half to a close with the score 33-14 Andover. The second half changed into a battle of running games as Cushing and Andover alternated rushing touchdowns. Cushing’s tailback ran for three touchdowns in the half, and Houghton scored on rushes of 20 and 36 yards for Andover to bring the score to 49-34 in Andover’s favor. Captain Matt Ward ’06 sealed the game with an interception on Cushing’s final drive. After Andover’s three scores in four minutes to start the game, Cushing never cut the lead to any closer than two touchdowns. The amazing combination of Houghton and Fernandez finished the game with a total of 413 yards rushing. Houghton carried the ball 16 times for an astounding 273 yards, to go along with four touchdowns. Fernandez took the ball 15 times for 140 yards, and scored one rushing touchdown. He also had a punt return for a touchdown, and an interception for a touchdown, but both were called back due to penalties. Coach Mo said of Houghton and Fernandez, “They’re the best combination of tailbacks I’ve ever coached. They both also have a great ability to block for each other, and are such great teammates, so they can share the load of carries. They’re like thunder and lightning out there.” Coach Mo also praised the work of the offensive line in contributing to the great success in the running game. “Those 400 rushing yards per game don’t happen without the line,” he said, “Casey Shannon ’07, David Giller ’06, Mike Bourbeau ’06, Matt Skinner ’07, Colin Serafino ’06, they all deserve credit for their work.” Andover’s defense played well in the rainy conditions, taking advantage of four interceptions on the day. The defense also faced the task of playing against Cushing’s slow, pounding offensive drives, on which Cushing ran over 20 more plays than Andover. Penalties hurt Andover on numerous occasions, and took away two scores from the books, but the team came away with a very important victory on the road. Andover will host Northfield Mount Hermon (1-3) on Saturday for Parent’s Weekend. Game time is 3:15 at Phelps Stadium.