Last Minute Defensive Surge Propels Andover to 2nd Among Prep Schools

After an intense footrace in the final minute of the game, Michael Moore ’14 tackled a Cushing player who broke away from the pack on Andover’s 5-yard line. Moore’s tackle saved a potential game-tying touchdown and set up a last-minute goal-line stand that clinched Andover Football’s fourth straight victory.

Andover’s defense denied Cushing on three straight plays from inside the 5-yard line, and walked away with a 7-0 win to keep their four-game winning streak intact.

Andover’s offense stalled around midfield with less than a minute left on the clock and decided to try to pin Cushing’s offense deep against its goal-line with a punt. After a fumbled snap, a Cushing defender scooped up the ball and would have scored had Moore not brought him down.

Andover moved to number two in the MaxPreps High School Football Rankings after the win, trailing only behind Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, New York.

Head Coach Leon Modeste said, “It was ugly, but we’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss anyday.”

In addition to the key tackle at the end of the game, Moore had 12 others and led the team’s defense. For the second game in a row, Andover’s stout defense held its opponent to seven points or less.

Brandon Michel ’14, who made one of the critical tackles with just minutes left on the clock, said, “On the goal-line stand, we just muscled down and fought. The situation was dire, but with a victory on the line, we didn’t doubt that we could stop them. It was merely a matter of staying strong and going hard.”

“Everyone muscled down and played well at the end,” said Rob Needham ’15. “It was just a great team stop.”

The Cushing offense, which featured a strong rushing attack, was dormant for most of the game as Andover’s defense was tough to break.

“It was a great defensive game, so it was fitting that we wound up winning on a goal-line stand,” said Modeste.

Andover defense kept consistent with this year’s defensive philosophy against Cushing. The front seven were aggressive, and the defensive backs were strong in their coverage.

“We have great athletes in our secondary. Our four defensive backs—Matt [Ilalio] ’14, Matt [Rusk-Kosa] ’14, Brandon [Michel] ’14 and Alec [Tolentino] ’14—are, as a group, one of the best defensive backfields I’ve ever had, so we can play man coverage,” said Modeste. “That lets us pressure the passer and we can say, ‘Well, our guys are going to cover their guys well.’”

Cushing’s defense was just as formidable and frustrated the Andover offense for much of the first half. Michel finally broke the tie after scoring on a screen pass inside the red zone towards the end of the second quarter. The touchdown ended up being the deciding score.

“Our offensive line did an incredible job of getting out to block and with the score at 0-0, I felt like I needed to contribute in some significant way,” said Michel.

Ryder Stone ’14 continued his productive season, adding to his season rushing total of 466 yards with 26 carries and 176 yards for the game.

Ian Maag ’14 threw the ball 11 times for 44 yards, and made the big play with his touchdown pass to Michel.

Andover will look to extend its winning streak when it hosts Northfield Mount Hermon this Saturday at 4:30 p.m.