Buco ’11 Returns Kickoff for Touchdown in Win over Choate

Midway through the fourth quarter against Choate on Saturday, Jason Buco ’11 received a kickoff and flew down the left side of the field for an 87-yard touchdown return, nearly breaking the ankles of an opposing player on a spectacular juke. This was one of Andover’s three touchdowns of the night, as the team emerged victorious 21-18 against its talented opponent. “Buco’s return was one of the best returns I’ve ever seen,” said Coach Leon Modeste. “The juke he put on one of the players was simply unfair.” The first quarter yielded no points for either team, as both teams were figuring out each other’s defenses. Tommy Shannon ’12 started the second quarter by faking a handoff to TJ Hickey ’11 and evading two tackles before rushing into the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown run. Shannon also passed for 179 yards on the day. Choate responded with a touchdown later in the quarter but was not able to convert on the point after. After a scoreless third quarter, Andover went into the final quarter with just a one-point lead. Joe Kruy ’12 began things by blocking a Choate punt, just one of many spectacular defensive plays in the game. Kruy lead the defense with 13 tackles and five assists, while Tom Szymanski ’11 also had a big day with 12 tackles and four assists. “Our defensive line did a great job throughout the game, which allowed me to make more tackles,” said Szymanksi. “Great play calling also helped me out. Every time I blitzed, no one would block me.” “Kruy and Szymanski were excellent,” said Modeste. “Kruy, playing outside linebacker, figured out the offense and used his quickness to penetrate. Szymanksi, on the outside, made tackles for losses, including some on the goal line.” The blocked punt got some momentum going for Andover, and TJ Hickey ’11, who ran for 75 yards in the game, was able to scamper into the endzone for a touchdown shortly after. “Our run game started to click and the offensive line really dug in to give Tommy Shannon [’12] and me some running room,” said Hickey. Choate responded with a quick touchdown, but again failed to make the point after. Buco then returned the kickoff for a touchdown, assisted by the fantastic blocking of Max Lippe ’11. Lippe cleared out two Choate players on the return and blocked many other opposing players throughout the game. Modeste said, “Even though Lippe didn’t get the ball at all, he did a great job of blocking and decoying on pass plays. Choate required basically one and a half guys on every play to cover him.” Choate’s final touchdown could not make up the deficit, and Andover prevailed. “Our kicking, both field goals and punting, was better than theirs,” said Modeste. “That was the difference in the game.”? Liam Murphy ’11 made all three of his extra points, which gave Andover the points it needed to win. Shannon had a great day punting, landing four punts inside the 10-yard line. Modeste was not fully satisfied by the defense, which allowed just as many touchdowns as Andover scored. Choate found holes in the defense multiple times and converted for long passes, two for touchdowns. “Our secondary needs to play better and more consistently,” he said. “We will certainly address that in practice.” This Saturday, Andover will finally get to play at home against Cushing (0-2). “Cushing has an excellent QB, and a great spread offense,” said Modeste. “They have big guys defensively, but we’re just going to play our game and take chances.”