Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Sports

September 12, 2013

Eberth, Warriors open season with OT thriller

One had never thrown a varsity pass heading into the game.

The other had never caught a pass.

The third had never kicked in a varsity game.

The result was nothing short of magic.

With the game on the line in the season-opener, sophomore Oliver Eberth connected with junior receiver Christopher Nicholas for the game-tying overtime touchdown, and Ryan Payne booted his third extra point of the game as Andover rallied past North Andover 33-32 in overtime last Friday.

“Just amazing,” senior Will Eikenberry said. “We didn’t come all the way back just to lose in OT. The young kids stepped up and made some big plays and I have never been more impressed than I am of Payne.”

Andover appeared to be in trouble, trailing by a touchdown with just over two minutes left in regulation.

But senior lineman Ben Hartford sparked the rally when he burst through the line and blocked a punt, giving the Warriors a first down from the Scarlet Knights 9-yard line.

“There was no time left in the game,” Hartford said, “but once we got that blocked punt and we were able to do something with that, we knew we just had to keep fighting.”

Three plays later, Eberth scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game and send it to overtime.

North Andover had first possession in OT and scored a touchdown, but Hartford then struck again when he sacked North Andover QB Casey Walsh on the two-point conversion attempt.

The Golden Warriors then took over, and on their second play from scrimmage, Eberth swung a pass out to Nicholas for a touchdown that tied the game.

“That’s my play,” Eberth said. “I talked with our offensive coordinator (Neil Powers) and we decided to go with it. I knew I was going to throw it to Nicholas as long as he was open.”

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