Through its first two games of the season, the Tewksbury High football team had managed to score just 14 total points, en route to an 0-2 record.
But on Saturday, the Redmen found the cure for what ailed them in the form of an Andover High squad that, which had been wracked by injuries -- despite a 2-0 record. The suddenly porous Warrior defense gave up more than 400 yards rushing and Tewksbury rolled to a 38-28 upset win at Doucette Field.
"(Tewksbury) played a very good game," said "They had a good game plan to get to the flanks. That was good on their part. We've got to learn to stop that the next (game)."
and two touchdowns on 26 carries but he was held largely in check by the Tewksbury defense.
Junior quarterback CJ Scarpa misfired on his first six passes, but caught fire in the second half. Scarpa finished 14-for-23 for 189 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. With the Warriors trailing, 38-16 in the fourth quarter, Scarpa led a furious comeback, tossing a pair of touchdown passes
Cam Farmham split the Tewksbury secondary and made a brilliant leaping catch for a touchdown from 30 yards out to pull the Warriors to within 38-22 with 3:10 to play. The score was set up by the first of two fumble recoveries by Jake Flaherty.
With 1:34 left to play, Flaherty recovered another fumble at the Andover 30-yard line. Scarpa marched the Warriors quickly downfield, helped by a 34-yard catch and run by Coke. Two plays later, following a 21-yard reception by Farnham, Will Heikkenin hauled in a three-yard touchdown pass on a quick slant to make it 38-28 with 18 seconds to play.
"I'm always optimistic. This is a resilient group," said Perry. "We were down against North Andover (Week 1) and we stormed back. I didn't think we were out of this game, ever."
Andover tried to pull to within one score with a two-point conversion, but Farnham was crushed at the goal line by Tewksbury's Kevin Saunders as he tried to make the catch on a pass from Scarpa.
Farnham lay on the ground for several minutes before getting to his feet and being helped off the field very slowly and then taken to a hospital for tests. His status for next week's game isn't clear.
The first half began the way most observers expected it to. Coke gave Andover a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 27-yard touchdown run. But that proved to be the highlight of the afternoon for Coke.
The star of the game for Tewksbury was halfback Chris Bettano, who ran the ball 21 times for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Bettano had seven runs of 15 yards or more and four of better than 25 yards.
Bettano led a relentless ground attack for Tewksbury, which rolled up 406 yards on the ground on 54 carries. Quarterback Kevin Saunders ran for 59 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while Dan Altavesta ran 11 times for 86 yards.
An eight-yard touchdown by Saunders and a spectacular 50-yard scoring run by Bettano staked the Redmen to a 14-7 lead with 4:40 to play in the first half.
"We made some mistakes in the first half that were key because we weren't able to build a lead," said Perry, whose club has been hit with several key injuries over the first few weeks of the season, forcing him to use underclassmen at key positions.
Andover answered with a 10-play scoring drive, capped by a five-yard touchdown run by Coke. But the PAT try by Mark Zavri failed, leaving the score 14-13.
Zavri would have a chance to redeem himself. A quick three-and-out by Tewksbury gave Andover the ball back a their own 47 with 38 second to play in the half. A pair of completions from Scarpa to Heikinnen moved the ball to the Tewksbury 12-yard-line with six seconds left.
From there, Zavri knocked through a 29-yard field goal to give Andover a 16-14 lead at intermission.
The second half belonged to Tewksbury. Touchdown runs by Bettano (1 yard and 3 yards) and Saunders (1 yard), each accompanied by a two-point conversion, helped the Redmen build a 38-16 lead.