By David Willis
---- — 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.”
Nicholas also knew the ball was coming his way.
“It was a great call,” the junior receiver said. “We tried a run and it didn’t work. They came up with that great play and I was confident it was coming to me. I ran a good option route, was open and Eberth made a great throw.”
After the score, the Warriors needed only Payne — in his varsity debut — to kick the extra point. The senior was perfect again, as he was all day, delivering the boot to clinch the victory.
“I just went crazy after the kick,” quad-captain Matt Sutliff said. “North Andover is our rival and there is basically nothing better than beating them. Payne really stepped up.”
Eikenberry was a force on defense, making 17 tackles and scoring the first Andover touchdown of the game on a 76-yard run. Ommel Bonilla was also dominant with 14 tackles, eating up the inside. Eberth’s OT score was his second of the day, the first a 38-yard score to E.J. Perry IV.
“As a senior, I don’t think anything has been better than this game,” Hartford said. “It means the world to us to do this.”
Who: Boston College High School (0-1)
When: Today (Thursday, Sept. 12), 7 p.m.
Where: Eugene V. Lovely Field
Fast facts: BC High is ranked No. 23 in Eastern Mass, 10 spots behind Andover (13th). ... The Eagles were upset by North Attleboro in their opener, 20-12. Senior running back Robert Harnais did rush for 229 yards on 27 carries in the loss.
agateHed:Andover 33, North Andover 32
agateText:Andover (1-0): 3 10 6 7 7 — 33
agateText:North Andover (0-1): 6 6 8 6 6 — 32
agateText: A — Ryan Payne 23 field goal, 5:35
NA — Bubba Shkiew 29 pass from Casey Walsh (kick failed), 1:41
agateText: NA — Shkiew 6 run (kick failed), 10:55
A — Will Eikenberry 76 run (Payne kick), 9:38
A — Payne 18 field goal, 0:30
agateText: NA — Matt Iannone 39 pass from Walsh (Iannone pass from Walsh), 5:42
A — E.J. Perry IV 38 pass from Oliver Eberth (pass failed), 0:47
agateText: NA — James Foote 8 interception return (pass failed), 8:29
A — Eberth 6 run (Payne kick), 1:53
agateText: NA — Shkiew 6 pass from Walsh (run failed)
A — Christopher Nicholas 7 pass from Eberth (Payne kick)
agateText:RUSHING: A (34-156) — Will Eikenberry 12-98, Oliver Eberth 15-51, Brandon Marti 6-5, Connor McCullough 1-2; NA (34-131) — Tom Sabile 16-93, Bubba Shkiew 4-27, Casey Walsh 14-11
agateText:PASSING: A — Eberth 11-15-1, 95, McCullough 7-12-1, 55; NA — Walsh 14-31-0, 164
agateText:RECEIVING: A — E.J. Perry IV 3-49, Alex Marshall 4-47, Christopher Nicholas 4-29, Cam Davey 3-16, Zach Walker 1-5, Ryan Payne 1-2, Brandon Marti 1-1, Will Eikenberry 1-1; NA — Shkiew 7-69, Matt Iannone 4-80, James Foote 2-12, Tyler Salois 1-3