CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- Saturday's matchup between No. 4 Chelmsford and No. 13 Andover was the epitome of a seesaw battle. Ultimately, it was Chelmsford that came away with a 48-28 victory.
The teams traded possessions for most of the first quarter. It was not until there was 0:46 left in the quarter that Chelmsford’s Eddie Sheridan broke through the Golden Warriors' defensive line and outran the Andover defense 75 yards down the sideline.
The Lions (5-1) scored again in the second when quarterback Colby Emanouil snuck through the heart of the Andover defense on a designed quarterback sneak an ran 57 yards for a touchdown.
Andover (4-2) answered back when C.J. Scarpa hit Will Heikkinen on with a deep pass down the right sideline. Luck was on their side during the extra point attempt. Mark Zavrl, the kicker, was not set to kick, but the ball was snapped anyway. Adjusting on the fly, he took off towards the pylon. The holder pitched him the ball and he ran it in for the unintentional two-point conversion.
The Golden Warriors took the lead later in the quarter after Andy Coke, the prolific Andover running back, took a pitch to the right, but rather than run, he passed it to a wide open Cam Farnham for an easy score. The Chelmsford defense was so committed to the run that they moved towards the ball after Coke took the pitch, allowing Farnham to slip behind them for the score.
Chelmsford answered right back when Sheridan took the ensuing kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, giving Chelmsford a 19-15 lead.
Coke took a pitch 14 yards for a score two minutes before the half, once again swinging the lead back in Andover’s favor.
Chelmsford’s running game came out and asserted itself in the second half. It helped Chelmsford execute a 70-yard drive that took almost six minutes off the clock that was capped off with a one-yard Sheridan run to once again swing the lead back in his team’s favor.
“A problem we had in the first half was our scoring drives were one play,” said Chelmsford coach Bruce Rich. “That put our defense back on the field too soon and that Andover spread offense can wear you down. That was a big difference in the game. I think the key to the game was in the second half when we got the ball we were able to sustain a long drive and I think that took a little bit out of them.”
Its defense also started creating turnovers, something it did not do in the first half. With Andover pinned deep in its own territory, linebacker Tim Joy jumped in front of a slant pass intended for Heikkinen, intercepted it, and took it down to the 3-yard line. That set up one of Eddie Sheridan’s three rushing touchdowns.
Sheridan ended the game with 20 carries for 145 yards and three rushing touchdowns. His quarterback, Colby Emanouil, only attempted nine passes all game, but had 11 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
“(Eddie) just sees the field so well and he has that great breakaway speed,” said Rich. “He ran the ball tough tonight. He got some hard yards.”
Later in the third, defensive tackle Brett Harrington intercepted a tipped pass and brought it back for a touchdown, giving him a rare defensive touchdown.
“I was trying to read the tight end and finally they threw it to him and I was there for it,” he said.
At one point in the third, Chelmsford had scored 20 unanswered points, putting all the pressure on the Andover offense to produce. The defense was able to hold Coke to only 90 yards on the ground. He contributed in other ways however, including six catches for 45 yards and the 40-yard halfback pass that went for a touchdown.
Scarpa was 13-of-30 for 126 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Emanouil added a 43-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to make it a three-score game with under three minutes left to go, putting the exclamation point on the game for the Lions.
Penalty woes: Neither team made it easier on itself in the first half. They collectively committed 11 penalties. Before Andy Coke’s rushing touchdown in the second quarter, Chelmsford was called for 35 penalty yards on that drive alone. Since that drive started at the Andover 37, that was the same as if the Golden Warriors started deep in Chelmsford territory.
“The problem in the first half was that we had too many penalties,” said Rich. “That was an adjustment at halftime: we just told the kids they have to play smarter. Those penalties just killed us. They were able to sustain drives because of it.”
In the second half, the Lions were only called for two false start penalties, not giving Andover as much free yardage as it did in the first half.
Switching it up: Because Andover was having so much offensive success in the second quarter, Chelmsford made defensive adjustments at halftime, getting them better equipped to deal with the spread in the second half.
“The coaches switched out our defensive ends, made us more of a four-front instead of an odd-front like we usually play,” said Harrington. “It just worked out a lot better. We contained them really well and everyone read their keys and did a good job. We didn’t come out ready to play in the first half. I don’t know if it was the Saturday night game or what but all I know was in the second half we came out flying ready to play.”
Joy-ful fruition: Tim Joy’s third quarter interception was a product of tape study and seeing the play multiple times already in the game. Scarpa looked for Heikkinen four times on the same slant pattern to the left earlier in the game, which each time resulted in an incomplete pass. The fifth time, Joy jumped in front of the pass and put his team in a great position to score.
“He predicted he was going to do that,” said Rich. “We saw that on film so we knew that was a big play for them. We worked on it all week and Timmy actually said that he was going to go back and get one of those and he did. You saw the athlete that he is.”
He showed off the athlete he is again in the fourth quarter when he ran back and extra point attempt 95 yards for two points.
NO. 4 CHELMSFORD 48, NO. 13 ANDOVER 28
CHE (5-1) 7 12 20 9 --- 48
AND (4-2) 0 22 0 6 --- 28
C - Eddie Sheridan 75-yard run (Charlie Calenda kick)
C - Colby Emanouil 57-yard run (rush failed)
A - Will Heikkinen 47-yard pass from CJ Scarpa (Mark Zavrl run)
A - Cam Farnham 40-yard pass from Andy Coke (Zavrl kick)
C - Sheridan 96-yard kickoff return (rush failed)
A - Coke 13-yard run (Zavrl kick)
C - Sheridan 1-yard run (Calenda kick)
C - Sheridan 3-yard run (kick blocked)
C - Brett Harrington interception return (Calenda kick)
A - Farnham 4-yard pass from Scarpa
C - Tim Joy extra point block return
C - Emanouil 43-yard run (Calenda kick good)