Despite a promising 9-7 lead in middle of the third quarter, Andover Football fell to Exeter 35-9 in Saturday’s rivalry matchup. The game marked Andover’s fifth consecutive Andover/Exeter loss.
Exeter entered the game well and scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game to go ahead 7-0. Andover maintained composure and prevented any more Exeter touchdowns for the rest of the half.
Andover later tacked on six points of its own at the goal line when Larken Kemp ’13 broke free from his defender and caught a floated pass from quarterback Joey Verhaegh ’13. Andover headed to the locker room at halftime down by just one point.
Andover then went ahead in the third quarter with a 35-yard field goal by Tom Mullen ’14, a goal which opened the possibility of a huge upset Andover victory. Unfortunately, Exeter would soon follow with superb runs from tailback Andreas Robinson PEA ’13 and go ahead to lead 14-9.
With little time left in the third quarter, Andover looked to take the lead back, fueled by strong passing from Verhaegh. However, the drive was quickly stopped when a controversial call resulted in an Exeter touchdown.
“Joey [Verhaegh] threw a nice ball to Alex Kramer [’13], and I thought we had a first down. Then the refs said the ball was loose, resulting in the other kid [Robinson] taking it for a touchdown,” said Head Coach Leon Modeste.
The game went downhill from there, with Andover giving up two more touchdowns to let Exeter pull away with an overwhelming victory.
“I thought we played really well, but a few big plays went the other way, otherwise we could have won,” said Vergaegh.
In addition to missed plays and tough calls, the team had to adapt after the loss of Captain Jack Ward ’13 midway through the game due to injury. The team also lost Kemp, a key asset, because of an ejection, after Kemp argued with the referees on a missed pass interference call.
“Exeter was a very good team, and we had to play great to hang with them. They could run the ball, and there was also always the threat of their strong passing game. Their defense didn’t give an inch, and moving the ball consistently on them was difficult even with our offense playing as well as it was,” said Tommy Lane ’15.
Exeter’s prowess was evident in the statistics, as Andover rushed for less than 100 yards compared to Exeter’s 214, 188 of which Robinson ran.
Verhaegh was the Andover leader in both passing and rushing during the game, as he passed for 142 yards and rushed for 46, in addition to the passing touchdown.
The team’s 2-5 record was an improvement on a winless 2011 season.
“Coming off a winless season [last year], we knew there weren’t very high expectations from many. We had high expectations because of the great group of players we knew we had, and we did show many glimpses of a great team throughout the season. The team this year did a great job transitioning us from the bottom of the league into a middle-of-the-pack team.” said Lane.
Andover hopes that it can make the transition to a top-of-the-pack team next season, with fresh faces and new Co-Captains Tyler Marshall ’14 and John Cifrino ’14.