From 81st to 8th: Victory Bumps Andover to Top Rank in MA

Just ten seconds after Andover’s defense recovered a forced fumble early in the first quarter, Jake Howell ’14 secured a touchdown pass from Thomas Lane ’15 to increase Andover’s lead over Choate to 14-0.

Andover went on to defeat Choate 41-7 on Saturday, improving its winning streak to three games.

Coming into the game, Choate was ranked ninth in Massachusetts by MaxPreps. Andover’s convincing victory vaulted them from the 81st ranking to eighth among prep schools in Massachusetts.

The team’s offense jumped out to a hot start and quickly took a 21-point lead by the end of the first quarter.

Howell led the team in receiving with 131 yards and two touchdowns. Lane and Ian Maag ’14 split time at quarterback. Lane finished with 111 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Maag was seven for eight with 132 yards and a touchdown.

With a touchdown and 102 yards on the ground, Ryder Stone ’14 lead the NEPSAC League in rushing for week three.

Co-Captain John Cifrino ’14 said, “We ran the ball really effectively, starting with Matt [Ilalio ’14]’s run to start the game, then Ryder’s running. That allowed us to use the play-action pass. Our rushing attack caught the defense off-guard, and the passing game really opened up.”

Cifrino credited the offensive line with moving the running game forward.

Cifrino said, “We [the line] are definitely a unit, and we play together instead of playing as individuals. We work together, and even though we’re not the biggest unit, we’re very technically sound, and during games it just becomes natural. We just have great chemistry.”

The defense shut down Choate’s offense for most of the game, allowing only one late-game touchdown.

Michael DeLaus ’14 led the defense with 12 total tackles, while Rob Needham ’15 came in with 11 tackles. Andover also had ten sacks over the course of the game.

Cifrino attributed Andover’s defensive prowess to its defensive backs. “We have so much talent at cornerback and safety and in the defensive backfield, and that allows us to get to the quarterback without worrying about getting burned. It all starts with the defensive backs,” said Cifrino.

Additionally, Andover recovered four fumbles during the game, allowing them to keep control of the clock and tire out the Choate defense.

Jumaane Ford ’16, who had five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, said, “We generated turnovers by being aggressive and gang-tackling. The pressure that we created helped a lot in terms of getting turnovers because we forced the quarterback to throw the ball and make bad choices with the ball.”

Andover will look to continue its strong defense and extend its winning streak on Saturday against Cushing, which just defeated Northfield Mount Hermon.

“Special teams was a point of weakness for us,” said Ford. “We did a lot of other things really well, so we won’t change much on defense. We’re really going to focus on shutting down their [Cushing’s] running game because they have a really strong running back.”