Central Catholic needed just one more yard to secure a two-point conversion and second-half comeback for the ages, Thursday. Senior quarterback Matt McDermott lined up in the shotgun formation and took a dive play to pay dirt to give the home team the 48-46 victory in double overtime against visiting Andover.
Andover surrendered a 20-7 halftime lead to the Raiders, while McDermott went 6-for-7 in pass attempts and threw for 148 yards in the second half.
The Warriors won the toss to open the game and deferred to receive in the second half, opting to put the defense out first for momentum. And the defense delivered.
After a quick first down, the opening Central drive fizzled and the Raiders were forced to try and punt. Andover junior Mark Zevrl broke through the line on the punt attempt, however, and blocked it to the delight of the packed Andover stands. Zevrl recovered his block, giving the Warriors possession on the opposition’s 13-yard-line.
Andover phenom, option back and captain, Andrew Coke went to work on the next couple plays taking a dive play to the house for a seven-yard touchdown run. Zevrl, who also kicks, hit the PAT to put the Warriors up 7-0.
McDermott and company had a similar second drive to their first. After a quick first down again, another Raider drive sputtered and the punt team returned to redeem themselves. Unfortunately for Central, Andover brought heat again and this time it was junior Adam Ladd getting his fingertips on the pigskin, forcing only an eight-yard punt from the line of scrimmage.
Andover began the drive in enemy territory once again, but could not muster the same quick score. Coke teamed with senior Freddie Scribner for a couple rushes on the drive and QB CJ Scarpa found fellow junior wide-out Will Heikkinen, but the Warriors were stuck with a fourth-and-two. Coke took the ball up the middle for first-down yardage but decided to make a cutback that lost the yards and forced an Andover turnover.
Central came storming back and finally put together a scoring drive to open the second frame. Senior captain Devon Lattrell capped a drive that he began with a 35-yard screen reception, with a quick 17-yard power up the middle into the end zone. The extra point was good and the score was knotted at 7-7.
It looked to be a shootout as Andover took the following drive to the house from its own 40. After Scribner scored on a 17-yard scamper of his own, the Warriors faked the extra point with a rollout pass attempt that was stopped, leaving Andover with a 13-7 lead.
Andover head coach E.J. Perry said that the team had run the fake play before and that the Warriors were going for that extra point early.
“We were trying to avoid what [eventually] happened,” Perry said of the broken play. “If you sort of get that extra point and they miss one, [you’re at an advantage].”
On the very next drive it was Andover’s defense that got in on the scoring. Senior captain, linebacker, Will Clark dropped back into coverage and intercepted McDermott’s first pass attempt of the drive and took it to the end zone for the pick-six. Zevrl hit the PAT to put Andover up 20-7.
In the closing seconds of the half, Zevrl attempted a 45-yard field goal that fell less than a yard short of the crossbar.
The Raiders kneeled out the clock and Andover went into the locker room with a 20-7 lead and the ball to start the second half.
“‘Keep doing more of the same,’” is what Perry told his players at halftime. “We came out and went down and scored, and again, we had the momentum there and we just needed to stay persistent.”
The third quarter seemed the same story of a dominant road win by the Warriors. Andover took its opening drive 57 yards down the field to the end zone, and capped it on a powerful run by Coke. He was met at the goal line by Central Catholic sophomore defensive back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, and after an audible clash of helmets and pads, Drummond-Mayrie was on his back looking up at Coke standing in the end zone. Zevrl hit his third extra point, 27-7 Andover.
Nobody told the Raiders the game was out of hand, however. Central began a long, time-consuming drive from its own 20 following the score. After finally making back into Andover territory, McDermott fumbled the option handoff but recovered it back at the Central 45-yard line. The Raiders faced a third-and-20, and went with an outside screen to senior Henry Rodriguez, who took the rock 21 yards for the first down. The Warriors blitzed the middle linebackers and McDermott found senior John Bilsky over the top for the 33-yard score. The PAT was good and Central began its comeback, 27-14.
Shadowing two, costly Andover fumbles that resulted in turnovers, and a rejuvenation from Central Catholic, the Warriors were faced with their first deficit of the game, trailing 34-27 with 4:26 remaining.
Andover put together a masterful four-minute drive with option rushes from Coke, rushes and short receptions from Scribner, and receptions from Heikkinen. On second-and-goal from the one yard line, Scribner and the Andover line muscled their way home and Zevrl hit another PAT to tie the game at 34-34 with :22 remaining to force overtime.
Andover won the toss again and deferred to go second in the first round of the shootout-style overtime. Each team’s offense began on the opposition ten-yard line and used four downs to score. If it scored, the scoring team had to go for two.
Both teams scored on their first attempts but missed their two-point conversion attempts, both on passing plays. 40-40 all.
The roles reversed in the second overtime, and Andover went first, scoring, but failing again to make the two-point conversion. 46-40 Warriors.
A botched pitch sent the Raiders back to the 20, but McDermott found junior Michael Barry on a fade route in the end zone. Barry made one of his numerous athletic plays and reached over his defender, Greg Calabro, who was all over Barry with tough coverage. Andover junior Jake Flaherty came in late to put a hit on Barry drawing a flag and allowing the Raiders to attempt a two-point try from the one-yard line instead of the three. McDermott rushed the ball, and the win, home.
“I thought I was going to get [the ball] when it was up there,” Barry said of the overtime touchdown. “I saw they threw the flag and for some reason thought they were going to take it away. One of my teammates told me the flag wasn’t on me and I just started going crazy with my team.”
McDermott was 12-for-18 for 236 yards and had 94 rushing yards on 17 attempts for Central, while Scarpa was 18-for-26 for 190 yards and 12 rushing yards on three attempts for Andover. Coke and Scribner each finished with 43 rushing yards, while Heikkinen had 10 catches for 103 yards.
The Warriors finish their season at 7-4.
“I’m happy with the way the season turned out,” Perry said. “We had many highs. This group of seniors has gone through many experiences and it’s just tough when you lose this way.”