Sports

STONE SCORES TOUCHDOWN IN FINAL SECONDS

With 31 seconds left in the game, Ryder Stone ’14 followed his blockers, fought for extra yards and extended the nose of the ball towards the goal line. The referee raised his arms to signal a touchdown. Chaos ensued as Andover fans stormed the field in celebration.

The last-minute touchdown gave Andover Football a 13-12 lead and snapped the team’s five-game losing streak to archrival Phillips Exeter Academy. The record for the 133 year-old rivalry now stands at 69-54-10 in Andover’s favor.

Andover’s win also completed its undefeated 8-0 regular season, clinching first place in the NEPSAC League Division A.

Until the fourth quarter, Exeter’s defense shut down Andover’s offense, only allowing seven points. However, after Exeter’s defense forced Andover to punt early in the fourth quarter, Coach Leon Modeste decided to switch from a spread offense to a smash-mouth, grind-it-out style of play.

“We weren’t syncing with our spread, and our spread was not working. So we decided that putting [Michael] Moore [’14] in the game to lead block and occasionally run the ball on misdirection would help the run game,” said Modeste.

Andover’s offense burned nine minutes off the clock on its final drive of the game, using 22 plays to go 89 yards for the touchdown.

Until the last drive, eter’s defense frustrated Stone, who finished the day with 96 yards. But Stone got his revenge. He was almost stopped before the goal line on his game-winning touchdown run, but battled Exeter’s defenders and found his way into the end zone.

“I knew Coach Mo was trusting me to get to the end zone, and I wasn’t going to stop until I got there. I saw a small seam, cut up field and got stopped three or four yards from the end zone when I met a linebacker, and I just kept driving until I got into the end zone,” said Stone.

The switch in offensive styles led to one of the most impressive drives Modeste had ever witnessed.

“At least where I have been involved in the Andover/Exeter rivalry, there are certain things that are just named. One of them is ‘The Screen,’ when we beat them [Exeter] by two points back in ’87. There was ‘The Catch,’ which was Titus Ivory’s ’96 catch back in ’95. But now we have a new one. It’s called ‘The Drive.’ That drive is going to be etched in people’s minds for a long time,” said Modeste.

Ian Maag threw 16 passes, completing eight of those for 51 yards against Exeter’s defense.

“They did a really good job of shutting down our outside receivers on those long balls. That’s normally our go-to move when we need a big play,” said Maag. “Their defensive line was really good, and they got after me a lot. I had a little trouble seeing the field there for a while.”

Rob Needham ’15 said, “This Exeter team was the biggest team that I’ve played against. Every one of their linemen was 250 [pounds] minimum. But we prepared for it, we had our defensive scheme, we knew that we had to stay low and fire off, and we did that and we ended up shutting them down.”

Andover surrendered just two touchdowns all game. Andover’s defense hadn’t given up more than two scores in any game this season.

Moore led the team with 17 tackles, while Tyler Marshall ’14 finished with ten tackles. Needham led the team with two sacks.

The defense forced three turnovers, all of which came at crucial points in the game. The first two interceptions by Matt Rusk-Kosa ’14 and Brandon Michel ’14 came in the first half. The third turnover that Andover forced was an interception by Alec Tolentino ’14 at the very end of the game.

Since Stone’s touchdown came with 31 seconds left on the clock, Exeter had a chance to kick a game winning field goal. With less than 15 seconds left, Tolentino intercepted a tipped pass and ran down the sideline until the clock ran down to zero.

“All I was doing while I was running was looking at the clock, waiting for it to run down, and when it did, I don’t remember what happened. But when I was running down the field I felt myself smiling,” said Tolentino.

Following the victory, Andover fans stormed onto Exeter’s field. “This game was such a great experience, especially since we came out on top. The fans rushing the field afterwards—that’s something that I’ve never been a part of. That was really cool,” said Maag.

Andover will play against New Brunswick in the Jack Etter Championship Bowl at Avon on Saturday. This will be the team’s first playoff game since 2007.