ANDOVER, Mass. -– Andover began its nonleague contest with No. 6 Gloucester last night with a 95-yard kickoff return for Pat Farnham, and ended it with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Tom Dempsey to Ben McQuaide at the final gun.
Unfortunately for the Golden Warriors, those bookends didn’t paint an accurate picture of what happened in the time between, as Gloucester rolled to a 38-13 win at Lovely Stadium.
The Fishermen (2-0) responded immediately to the challenge by Andover (1-1), as Jordan Shairs scored on touchdown runs of 8 and 77 yards on Gloucester’s first two possessions. In the meantime, the defense (three interceptions) forced three-and-outs on Andover’s first two possessions, and then held on fourth down at its own 18.
“When a team does that to you right off the bat, you have to say you know what guys, we’re in for a game, get excited and step up,” said Gloucester defensive end Chris Unis, who had a sack and overall was a frequent guest in Dempsey’s pocket.
“That’s what I think our team did a great job of tonight. We responded, took it to them and jumped on them.”
Brandon Cusumano scored on a 10-yard reverse early in the second, and Unis caught a two-point pass from Joseph Avila to push the lead to 24-7. Gloucester was forced to go for two-point conversions due to a pre-game injury to its kicker.
After an interception by Gilbert Brown (nine carries for 74 yards) set up Gloucester at the Andover 9-yard line, Shairs carried twice before giving the Fishermen a 30-7 lead at the break on his third and final touchdown.
“They have confidence in themselves, and they were upset that (the kickoff return) happened,” Gloucester coach Paul Ingram said of his squad. “I think that may have even fired us up.
“They just sucked it up and we had a pretty good game plan defensively, and offensively kids blocked and ran hard, and (Avila) just really had a good game. He made some real big passes and converted some third-down passes that were big.”
Any hope of a comeback for Andover faded quickly in the second half. On fourth-and-5 from the Gloucester 10, Shairs came up with an interception in the endzone. After Andover’s defense held on fourth-and-10 from its 31, the Golden Warriors marched back down field, but Dempsey was picked off by Adam Philpott at the Gloucester 36.
““We were inside the (Gloucester) 10 (yard line) three times and got nothing,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry. “You can’t do that.
“Against a team like this you know they’re going to put up points. You can’t get to the 10 (and not score) and keep putting the defense out there and expect it to stop them. That killed us.”
Avila (8-of-13 for 158 yards) hit Cusumano for a 50-yard touchdown to close out the Gloucester scoring midway through the fourth. Avila also had three two-point conversions (two rush, one pass) on the night.