By David Willis
---- — At the same stadium that hosted its last playoff game a season ago against St. John’s Prep, Andover football was hoping last Friday night to lock down a second straight trip to the postseason.
Unfortunately for the Golden Warriors, back-to-back postseason berths were not in the cards, as a gritty Lowell squad used an outstanding defensive effort and some timely offense to beat Andover 28-7.
The loss ended the Warriors’ tourney chances, and moved them to the consolation bracket of the newly realigned MIAA playoff system. They finished as the No. 9 seed in the Division 1 North bracket, with the top eight making the postseason. Malden finished as the final seed to qualify.
Andover will now play Lawrence this Friday in a home game at Eugene V. Lovely Field.
“The first half was back and fourth and I thought the defense played well,” Golden Warriors coach E.J. Perry said. “But we left the D out on the field for too long, which has been the case a lot of the season, and that is tough. Now we just have to wait and see what happens.”
Andover started the game with its best drive of the day, advancing to the Red Raider 35-yard line, with Oliver Eberth hitting Will Eikenberry on a 10-yard pass and Sylvester carrying to the Red Raider 35-yard line. But Eberth was stopped on fourth-and-1.
“We had the first drive going and we didn’t execute on the fourth-and-1,” Perry said. “That really hurt us.”
Sylvester, coming off back-to-back, 200-yard rushing games, faced a Lowell defense that stacked eight and nine players in the box to slow him. He finished with 49 yards on 15 carries.
Eberth posted Andover’s lone score in the fourth quarter, running a keeper 75 yards for a touchdown.
Senior lineman Ben Hartford was a bright spot, making 10 tackles and linemate Ommel Bonilla had eight stops.
Now in the consolation round, the Warriors will follow their Lawrence match-up by traveling to Peabody next week, then host a rematch with Chelmsford on Nov. 15. The season will end with their traditional Thanksgiving meeting with Central Catholic.
Lowell 28, Andover 7
Andover (3-4): 0 0 0 7 — 7
Lowell (5-2): 7 7 7 7 — 28
L — Keagan Latta 15 pass from Brian Dolan (Evan McHugh kick), 7:06
L — Jack Galvin 17 pass from Dolan (McHugh kick), 3:39
L — Latta 4 pass from Dolan (McHugh kick), 5:07
L — Ngaiiva Mason 1 run (McHugh kick), 5:31
A — Oliver Eberth 75 run (Ryan Payne kick), 0:10
RUSHING: A (26-124) — Oliver Eberth 9-85, Jack Sylvester 15-49, E.J. Perry IV 2-(-10); L (44-198) — Shyhiem Cullen 14-76, Ngaiiva Mason 11-62, Brian Dolan 19-60
PASSING: A — Eberth 4-12-0, 30, Perry 0-3-0; L — Dolan 13-18-0, 119
RECEIVING: A — Kenny Doherty 1-15, Will Eikenberry 1-10, Cam Davey 2-5; L — Jack Galvin 5-39, Keagan Latta 3-45, Tom Smith 4-30, Mason 1-5
UP NEXT Who: Lawrence (2-5) What: MIAA Division 1 North consolation round Where: Eugene V. Lovely Field, Andover Lawrence at a glance: After losing five straight to start the season, the Lancers have won their last two. They rely heavily on their passing game, with QB Nelson Velario throwing for 528 yards and 3 TDs in the last two weeks. The Warrior offensive line faces a task in Xavier Santiago, who had seven sacks last week.