Andover senior Toshi Hayashi had been through it all: the move to 5A, the 1-8 record a year ago, the repeated losses to rival Andover Central.
With one kick, all those bad memories washed away.
Hayashi connected on a 21-yard field goal as time expired, giving Andover a 17-14 win over Central on Friday.
“I knew it was the best thing that could happen and it meant the world to our team,” Hayashi said.
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Hayashi’s field goal was the only score of the second half by either team. Both defenses played strong most of the game, which seemed destined for overtime.
Then fortune struck when Andover’s Miles Starks made an incredible interception, one in which he bobbled the ball while falling to the ground. The turnover gave Andover a short field with just under two minutes to play.
The Trojans moved the ball to the 16-yard line with three seconds remaining. Hayashi came on to try a game-winning field goal, only to see the ball drift short and left.
But the Central defense made a big mistake by running into Hayashi.
“The first one, as soon as I saw it clear them cleanly, I knew it was in trouble and all I could hope for is for them to hit me,” Hayashi said.
The penalty gave Andover one untimed down, and Hayashi wasn’t going to waste the second chance.
“It was a good practice. I knew I was ready for the second one,” he said.
Central was the first team to score when junior Blake Meier found senior Taylor Brown for a 3-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
Andover answered on its very next drive, which ended with a 1-yard Alexander Olson touchdown run.
Central took its next drive right down the field again, Meier’s 1-yard run giving the lead back to the Jaguars.
It looked as if Central would take the lead into the half before Hayashi returned the following kickoff 69 yards to the Central 21-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the half.
“I think their kickoff return right before half shifted the momentum,” Central coach Tom Audley said. “It was a big play.”
Mason Biberstein punched it in for Andover from 3 yards out, sending the teams into the locker room tied at 14.
The second half stayed in the hands of each defense before Hayashi’s kick sealed it.
“This is as big as it gets for our guys. They have been through a tough couple of years,” Andover coach Mike Lee said. “To beat a team like that in a game like this, it’s a big night.”
|Andover Central (2-3)||7||7||0||0||—||14|
C—Brown 3 catch from Meier (Holinde kick)
A—Olson 1 rush (Hayashi kick)
C—Meier 1 rush (Holinde kick)
A—Biberstein 3 rush (Hayashi kick)
A—Hayashi 21 FG
Rushing—Andover, Biberstein 24-94, Gumeringer 14-81, Olson 9-58, Starks 2-16, Hayashi 1-4; Central, Milner 24-66, Brown 2-9, Stamp 1-7, Meier 5-6
Passing—Andover, Gumeringer 2-6-18-0; Central, Meier 10-21-128-1
Receiving—Andover, Bruner 2-18; Central, Holinde 4-62, Hurley 4-51, Lock 1-12, Brown 1-3