Football Earns Bid to New England Superbowl; Offense Crushes Worcester Under the Lights

Under the Saturday night lights of Phelps Stadium, Andover clinched a berth in the New England Championship game and raised its record to 7-0 by defeating a strong Worcester Academy squad, 36-15. Joey Lokitis ’06 threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns, and Charlie Houghton ’06 ran for over 150 yards and two touchdowns to lead Andover to victory. Worcester, last year’s New England runner-up, entered the game with a 4-1 record and a tough run defense. Right from the first whistle, the Worcester defense stacked eight men up on the line of scrimmage to try to stop the running game of Houghton and Matt Fernandez ’06. This strategy left wide receiver Andrew Badger ’06 in single coverage most of the game, which would come back to haunt the Hilltoppers as Badger had a fantastic game. Andover quickly marched down the field on its first possession, taking advantage of Badger’s coverage mismatches. After Lokitis’ first touchdown pass of the game to Badger, and a Houghton rushing touchdown, the score climbed to 15-0 in favor of Andover. PA continued its defensive might throughout the first quarter, and came into the second quarter with the 15-0 lead intact. After Andover stopped another Worcester drive at midfield, the Hilltoppers punted, pinning Andover close to its own end zone, eventually resulting in a safety. Despite giving up two points and having to give the ball back to Worcester, the Andover defense held strong and gave the offense the ball back. On the ensuing drive, Lokitis lofted a pass over the defender’s head, and into the hands of Badger in the right corner of the end zone. The score brought the Andover lead to 21-2. Worcester was able to score in the waning minutes of the first half, and a last-minute drive by Andover fell short, leaving the halftime score at 21-8. Penalties dogged the Andover offense, as they negated a Houghton rushing touchdown and a Badger touchdown reception. Andover came out firing in the third quarter, quickly extending the lead to 36-8 on another Houghton rushing touchdown and a third Lokitis to Badger touchdown pass. The large deficit was too much for Worcester, and the Hilltoppers only managed to score once more during the winding seconds of the fourth quarter, bringing the game to its 36-15 conclusion. Facing a Worcester defense that had allowed slightly over nine points per game over the course of the season, Andover was able to put up 36, and the combination of Houghton and Fernandez ran for 238 yards on the game. Both tailbacks shrugged off Worcester tacklers at the line of scrimmage and turned busted plays into huge gains. Lokitis finished the night eight out of 15, with 215 yards passing. All three of his touchdown passes were to Badger, who finished with seven catches for 182 yards. Brendan Gallagher ’06 and Captain Matt Ward ’06 headed an outstanding defensive effort and led the team in tackles, with twelve and ten, respectively. The Andover defense also forced three turnovers, with interceptions by Chris Bramwell ’07 and Tom Tassinari ’06. Tassinari also recovered a fumble, and Bramwell recorded a sack. The secondary contained the Worcester passing attack to a 40 percent completion rate. Andover travels north to Exeter, New Hampshire Saturday to take on archrival Phillips Exeter to cap off the regular season.