Interceptions Prove Costly as Andover Falls to Exeter for Second Consecutive Year

In a stadium packed with over 1,000 fans and almost as many umbrellas, Andover football ended its season on Saturday with a loss to rival Exeter, 14-31. A steady downpour forced both teams to rely on their rushing attacks, which led to Exeter’s success on offense. Clay Cleveland ’10 said, “It was a tough loss. The defense had a lot of missed tackles. The Exeter running back just put his head down and got all of the yards he could get. The weather wasn’t the best but that is not an excuse.” Exeter jumped to a sudden 14-0 lead early in the first quarter due to its powerful running game. Coach Leon Modeste said, “They were just a good team and no doubt championship caliber. They didn’t do anything surprising; we just couldn’t stop the running game. [The Exeter running back] was by far the best back we had seen all season.” Andover bounced back by sticking to its gameplan of short, high percentage passes. Andover marched down the field as quarterback Andy Vailas ’10 continually found wide receiver Eddie von Kuhn ’10 open near the sideline. Vailas capped off the drive by powering his way through the pile into the endzone to cut Exeter’s lead in half. Von Kuhn was Vailas’s go-to receiver all game. Von Kuhn finished with seven receptions for 90 yards on the day. With the return of All-New England wide receiver Luke Duprey ’10 and the constant threat of the running game, Von Kuhn took advantage of the opportunity. Von Kuhn said, “I think Exeter was really worried about stopping Cleveland and Vailas so they brought a lot of guys up which opened up the passing game. Despite the rainy weather, Vailas threw it right to me, which made it easy to catch in the rain. Their corners played pretty far back to prevent the deep ball, so the short routes were open almost every time.” Along with his rushing touchdown, Vailas had another impressive performance through the air despite the soggy conditions. He had 15 completions for 180 yards and one passing touchdown. Duprey was very impressed with the way Vailas and the whole offense handled the conditions. “We were able to catch the ball mostly because Andy made amazing throws to the receivers, and Clay and Malcolm [Mason Rodriguez ’11] grinded out yards on the ground despite the ground being soaked and so difficult to run and cut on,” Duprey said. After giving up another touchdown to Exeter, Andover forced a three-and-out, leading to a blocked punt. This defensive stand gave Andover great field position. The team took advantage and rallied to score late in the second quarter on a Vailas to Von Kuhn touchdown connection, pulling Andover within a touchdown going into halftime. To start the second half, Exeter received the ball and, on the first play from scrimmage, the Exeter running back broke a huge run to the Andover 15-yard line. Exeter finished the drive with another score, giving Exeter the 28-14 advantage. With the clock ticking in the second half, Andover began forcing deep passes downfield. The Exeter defense was ready for these passes and ended two Andover drives with interceptions. These turnovers made it difficult for Andover to overcome the large deficit, and the final whistle blew with Exeter winning 31-14. Andover finished the season with a record of 3-2-1, with two cancellations. Modeste was pleased with the season. He said, “We did a great job. It was a winning season despite being abbreviated. We never gave up all season even though they had many setbacks, including the loss of running back Tom Sullivan ’10.” Co-Captain Zach Boyd ’10 said, “Although it was a tough finish, I still feel we have great team. We overcame some adversity and had some big wins and great experiences. I look forward to seeing how the returners lead the team for the years to come. Malcolm is next year’s Captain, and I think he’ll do a great job.”