Some advice to future opponents up against the Andover defense: don’t get backed up into third-and-long situations.
Andover stonewalled Andover Central on first and second down on Friday night in its 39-7 demolition over its cross-town rival, then showed what it can do when coordinator Dustin Murray is able to unleash the wrath of his team’s pass rush. The Trojans finished with eight sacks and two defensive touchdowns in what was another dominant performance in a season already filled with them.
Andover improved to 2-2, while Andover Central fell to 1-3.
“You have no idea how much fun that was,” Andover senior linebacker Casey Mayes said. “That’s the most fun thing I’ve ever done, by far. It’s blitzing every play, getting a sack, and celebrating with your teammates. It was awesome.”
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After spending the first three quarters wiping out Andover Central drives with sacks on third down, Andover’s defense finally fulfilled its wishes of scoring a touchdown. The unit forced plenty of turnovers in its first three games, but nothing had been returned yet.
That changed in the fourth quarter when sophomore lineman Connor Hall intercepted a shovel pass and returned it for a touchdown, then defensive back Kale Rishel followed with his own pick-six to give Andover the cherries on top on Friday.
“It’s funny, Rishel actually called his pick-six during the week,” Andover coach Cade Armstrong said. “We had actually been preaching to our defense that we were due for one. We know we’re going to create a lot of turnovers, so it was just a matter of time with the amount of pressure we bring. The kids made it happen tonight.”
The game was close for the opening quarter, as the teams traded touchdowns. Andover freshman quarterback Eli Fahnestock scored a rushing touchdown, then Andover Central capitalized on a turnover committed by the Trojans on their own 10-yard line by scoring on a pass from Reagan Jones to Peyton Jensen.
That would be the lone positive for Andover Central on offense for the remainder of the game.
Although the Jaguars brought a solid defensive effort of their own, Andover’s defense was too disruptive. Mayes, Grant Staehr, and Slade Swan are standout linebackers, while Hall and Tyler Wilson are disruptive forces on the line and the secondary is bolstered by Rishel, Brent Alfaro, Alex Jones, and Isaiah Maikori.
“We just try to be as aggressive as possible and of course with Central, it was heightened a little bit tonight,” Swan said. “We really like our odds against anybody right now.”
Andover took a 10-7 lead on a David Kemp field goal, then tacked on a touchdown on a five-yard run by Peyton Henry and a safety before halftime to take a 19-7 lead into the break.
The lead was never in jeopardy, as Central struggled to prolong an offensive drive until the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. Andover essentially clinched the game when Fahnestock connected with Aidan Hartman on a throwback in the back of the end zone for a 26-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“The team down south, they always plays hard and it’s always fun playing them,” Hartman said. “But it’s great to beat them in a great atmosphere like tonight. Our student section rocked it and the place was packed. It was an awesome feeling to win this game.”
For Armstrong, it was a exhilarating way to be introduced to the cross-town rivalry.
“Coming from Derby, I never got to experience anything like this with an inner-city rivalry,” Armstrong said. “This was a special, special night. Just the buzz that was around this community leading up to the game is what really impressed me. I could see how much this game meant to my kids. You could see it in their eyes and their emotion. They were so ready for this and they got the job done.”
Andover Central (1-3)
A—Fahnestock 3 run (Kemp kick)
AC—Jenson 5 pass from Jones (Schoonover kick)
A—Kemp 27 field goal
A—Henry 5 run (Kemp kick)
A—Safety (punt out the back of the end zone)
A—Hartman 5 pass from Fahnestock (Kemp kick)
A—Hall 46 interception return (Kemp kick)
A—Rishel 49 interception return (kick failed)