Just before halftime, Matt Whalen ’16 jumped a route and brought down an interception to give Andover Football a chance to swing the momentum in its favor during its game against Loomis Chaffee last Saturday.
After Whalen’s interception, Andover’s offense stalled out and was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, a common theme throughout the game.
Despite six offensive turnovers, Andover still had an opportunity to steal a victory from Loomis late in the second half, but the offense once again could not muster the strength to get on the scoreboard and fell to Loomis 13-0 in the season opener.
With 12 tackles from Dewitt Burnham ’16 and ten tackles each from Brendon Misterman ’15, Max Anthony ’15 and Dane Wagner ’15, the defense delivered one of the best defensive performances in Head Coach Leon Modeste’s coaching tenure.
“It was the worst offensive performance I can remember here, but [with] that said, it was one of the best defensive performances I can ever remember,” said Modeste.
“[Loomis] was really big upfront, and their linemen were so big that it was hard to get a run off of the line, so we had to throw, which caused the turnovers,” said Jumaane Ford ’16.
The game was locked in a scoreless tie at halftime, and the defense was holding up against a talented Loomis attack. In the third quarter, Loomis scored on an interception from Thomas Lane ’15 to break the deadlock, taking a 6-0 lead.
“There’s no getting around the point that, as a team, we did not play to our potential,” wrote Captain Rob Needham ’15 in an email to The Phillipian.
Despite a poor offensive performance through three quarters, Andover found itself down by only one touchdown entering the fourth quarter. As Andover turned to the passing game, Loomis’s ball-hawking secondary made play difficult for quarterbacks Lane and Ford, forcing several late turnovers to ice the game.
Andover finished the game with 69 total yards, 55 of which came on the ground.
“No one can win a football game giving the ball over to the other team six times,” said Modeste.
On a more positive note, Andover’s once-again stingy defense kept the game close until the final whistle. Needham and Anthony notched two sacks apiece, and Whalen grabbed a pick to help the defense stifle the Loomis attack. Two goal-line stands epitomized the hard-nosed nature of this Andover team.
After leading the team in tackles, Burnham ended up being the most valuable player.
“[Burnham] played one of the best games I’ve seen for an [Andover] athlete on both sides of the ball — on special teams, he punted. On defense, he had 12 tackles, a couple of assists and he defended a few passes,” said Modeste.
Andover will take on Kent at home this weekend, and Kent has a few stand-out players that Andover will need to prepare for. Coach Modeste said, “[Kent] has a great pair of backs. We’re going to have to make them throw, because they have those two kids who can just run.”
During practice, the team’s main focus will be reducing its turnovers.
“If we can have no turnovers —especially interceptions — it’ll be a marked improvement, because our defense will keep us close,” said Modeste.
Andover Football will look for its first win of the season against Kent tomorrow at 6:00 p.m.