ANDOVER — The time to celebrate finally arrived for the Andover High football team on Friday.
After a wait of 477 days — or just under 16 months — due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Golden Warriors could finally celebrate their long-anticipated victory on the football field.
“It’s been a long wait!” said budding star QB Scotty Brown. “We have been waiting and dreaming of this victory for a long time. We knew we needed this win, and I think we showed a lot of people that Andover is back in it with this performance.”
Brown ran for three touchdowns and lineman AJ Heidtke led a dominant defensive effort as Andover rolled in its 2021 “Fall 2” home-opener, beating Lowell 33-14 at Eugene V. Lovely Field on Friday.
It marked Andover football’s first victory since Thanksgiving of 2019, due to the fall season being pushed back to the late winter/early spring by the coronavirus. The Warriors opened the season on March 12.
“It’s been so long since our last win, and even longer since it was under the lights,” said Heidtke. “We wanted this so much. The feeling is indescribable.”
Andover’s defense surrendered just 58 yards in the first half, never allowing Lowell to pass the 50-yard line, as the Golden Warriors built a dominant 24-0 halftime advantage. Lowell didn’t break up the shutout until there was 4:44 left in the third.
“This win has been a long time coming,” said linebacker Tomas Loureiro. “We were frustrated, and we wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth today. We had to control the line of scrimmage and be more physical than them. It’s fun to go out, be physical, and show who is the tougher team.”
Offensively, the Golden Warriors rode the sophomore backfield duo of Brown and halfback Lincoln Beal.
The 5-foot-8, 150-pound Brown carried 26 times for 115 yards and three scores. Beal rushed 18 times for 83 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 71 yards, both setting up scores.
“Scotty ran unbelievable,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry. “He was making the cuts he needs to make. We tightened up a few things on offense and gave him better running lanes. And Lincoln is also playing unbelievable running and receiving.”
It was Beal who gave Andover the lead. Following an interception by Anthony Previte — an All-Merrimack Valley Conference soccer player who went out for football when it was moved to Fall 2 — Beal drove his way in for a 1-yard touchdown.
Andover then forced a fumble that was recovered by Loureiro. Five plays later Brown took a keeper around the left corner and scored a 6-yard touchdown.
Lowell again fumbled the ball away on the next possession, recovered by Connor Sheehan, and Brown scored again five plays later, this time on 5-yard a draw up the middle.
Beal caused and recovered a fumble two possessions later, and an Andrew Wetterwald field goal on the final play made it 24-0 at halftime.
Andover’s defense — led by Heidtke wreaking havoc at nose guard — stymied Lowell’s wing-T offense installed by first-year Red Raiders coach Rob Pike.
“We had to be tough up front,” said Heidtke. “They’re a tough team, but we had to be tougher. That’s a fun way to play football.”
That was never more obvious than on the first possession of the second half, when Parker Rankin and Sheehan came barreling through the line and sacked the Lowell QB in the end zone for a safety.
Sheehan led the Golden Warriors with 10 tackles, Loureiro added seven tackles and Beal made six stops.
Lowell scored two late touchdowns, but Brown erased any thought of a comeback when he maneuvered his way in for a 1-yard touchdown with 2:55 to go in the game.
“I love when my line is physical, and I love the feeling of scoring touchdowns,” said Brown. “Our main focus was to get the offense back on track, and we executed very well today. I love when they rely on me to carry the ball, and we’re so excited to get the win.”
Andover 33, Lowell 14
Lowell (0-2): 0 0 7 7 — 14
Andover (1-1): 0 24 2 7 — 33
And — Lincoln Beal 1 run (Andrew Wetterwald kick), 11:04
And — Scotty Brown 6 run (Wetterwald kick), 6:16
And — Brown 5 run (Wetterwald kick), 4:34
And — Wetterwald 21 field goal, 0:00
And — Safety, AJ Heidtke and Connor Sheehan sack QB in end zone, 10:24
Low — Kevin Yrrizarry 6 run (Blake Ramos kick), 4:44
Low — George Dristiliaris 29 pass from Aidan Finn (Ramos kick), 8:30
And — Brown 1 run (Wetterwald kick), 2:55
RUSHING: Andover (49-220) — Scotty Brown 26-115, Lincoln Beal 18-83, Andrew Layman 5-22
PASSING: Andover — Brown 5-12-0, 109
RECEIVING: Andover — Beal 2-71, Aidan Ritter 2-33, PJ Reming 1-5
SWIM TEAM TOPS METHUEN
Polina Malinovskaya won the 100 breaststroke (1:15.74) and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay as Andover beat Methuen 112-74 in swimming last week. Claire Neilly won the 100 butterfly and was a member of the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays, Emily Chen won the 100 backstroke and Melissa Haddad was a member of the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.