ANDOVER – It didn’t take a last-second field goal for Andover to defeat Andover Central this season. Just a late touchdown, a knee-knocking extra point and two late turnovers.
Andover’s Cole VanEpps scored on 1-yard run with 2:59 remaining, and Tommy Fiszel booted the extra point through to give the Trojans a 14-13 victory over their crosstown rival Friday at Andover District Stadium.
Andover got an interception from Gage Moss and a fumble recovery by Cooper Nichols to stop Central’s final two possessions and preserve the victory in a game that was delayed two hours by lightning delays. The game ended after 11 p.m. with Andover students celebrating on the field with the football team, which improved to 5-0.
VanEpps, a junior, gained 67 yards on 10 second-half carries to lead Andover’s balanced rushing attack. Playing without starting quarterback Cole Gumeringer, who was injured midway through the third quarter, the Trojans got the winning points after getting the ball at Central’s 40 with 3:46 remaining.
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VanEpps ran around the right end for 27 yards on the first play of the winning march. Moss added a 12-yard run to the left side to get to the Jaguars’ 1. Then VanEpps scooted into the end zone to tie the score.
With a heavy rush, Fiszel chipped the extra point through to give Andover a 14-13 lead.
It was the second deficit the Trojans overcame in the contest.
Central, which lost 17-14 to Andover on the final play of last year’s meeting, took a 13-7 lead midway through the third quarter. After Central’s Cameron Koenigs intercepted a Gumeringer pass inside the 10, the Jaguars got 19 yards on two carries by sophomore Jordan Birch. Then Central quarterback Blake Meier connected on a post route with receiver Ryan Banwart for a 59-yard touchdown. Meier’s pass floated just out of reach of Andover’s Miles Starks, a senior cornerback who set up the Trojans’ winning points in last year’s meeting with an interception.
After two lightning delays forced the teams to delay their pregame warmups twice, both offenses came out sharp.
Central marched 77 yards in 17 plays on the game’s opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. Running back Lucas Milner ran for 47 yards on the march and Meier completed 4 of 6 passes for 30 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown in the flat to fullback Kier Stamp.
The Jaguars went 5 for 5 on third-down conversions during the drive, using up more than 7½ minutes.
Andover answered with a 15-play, 67-yard drive to tie the score. Senior running back Steven Young, back after missing two games with an ankle injury, ran for 47 yards on the march. The Trojans were successful on three third-down plays, including a 6-yard touchdown run by quarterback Cole Gumeringer behind the lead block of lineman Anthony Jackson.
The Trojans missed an opportunity to take the lead early in the second quarter. After Gumeringer’s touchdown, Andover’s Jake Dusenbury recovered a fumble by Central’s Zach Lock on the ensuing kickoff. Andover marched to Central’s 12, but Gumeringer was stopped for 2 yards on fourth and 3 to turn the ball over on downs.
Later in the quarter, Andover sophomore Eli Renoux returned a Central punt 43 yards to the Jaguars’ 41. A facemask penalty moved the Trojans to Central’s 20, but Renoux fumbled and Lock recovered to end the threat.
Central managed 11 yards of offense the rest of the first half after its touchdown drive.
AC—Stamp 4 pass from Meier (Peckham kick)
A—Gumeringer 6 run (Fiszel kick)
AC—Banwart 59 pass from Meier (pass failed)
A—VanEpps 1 run (Fiszel kick)
Rushing – Andover Central, Milner 21-91, Meier 5-21, Birch 2-19, Stamp 4-3. Andover, VanEpps 10-67, Young 13-66, Renoux 7-56, Gumeringer 12-42, Moss 4-20, Rasmussen 6-17, Jackson 2-3, Starks 1-2, Dusenbury 1-(-1), Lopez 1-(-4).
Passing – Andover Central, Meier 6-18-102-1. Andover, Gumeringer 2-6-17-1, Rasmussen 0-3-0-0.
Receiving – Andover Central, Banwart 1-59, Harris 3-30, Lock 1-9, Stamp 1-4. Andover, Butler 1-12, Nichols 1-5.