ANDOVER — With one final play left for Andover’s record-setting passing attack, receiver Jack Boese had to finish 2016 in style.
“I knew what it meant, so I knew I HAD to catch that pass,” said Boese. “It was amazing running into that end zone on my home field one last time. It was an honor to catch E.J.’s last touchdown pass.”
Soon-to-be Boston College quarterback E.J. Perry IV stepped back in the pocket and dropped a picture-perfect over-the-shoulder pass into the hands of Boese. All he had to do was shake one defender then cruise into the end zone for a 58-yard TD.
That was touchdown No. 7 on the day for Perry IV and his dynamic group of receivers, as Andover rolled to a 49-20 victory over North Andover in the second installment of their Thanksgiving Day rivalry.
Five difference Andover players caught touchdowns, an appropriate end to a season that saw Perry IV and his receivers rewrite record books.
“This was one fun, fun season,” said Rockwell, who caught three touchdowns on the holiday. “It was amazing to be part of this (passing attack). Growing up with these kids, we knew this come be something special. I’m just sad this is the last time I will catch passes from E.J. But we went out the way we wanted to.”
With his final monster day, Perry IV tied the Massachusetts single-season record for touchdown passes with 47, matching the mark set by Troy Flutie of Natick in 2013.
He also upped his final career touchdown pass total to 114, passing future BC teammate Flutie for second in the state’s history.
“It all just really started to hit me,” said Perry IV, fighting back a bit of emotions as family members and friends lined up for photos. “I never tried to think about the numbers, but it is pretty amazing. And I went out a winner in my last Andover game. That’s really special.”
Just four plays into the game, Perry IV fired a dart into the end zone for an 8-yard score to running back Jeremy Travaglini.
On the second possession, he lofted a pass into the end zone that John Marotta jumped for, then landed with his tiptoes just in bounds for a TD.
Andover then used some trickery on possession No. 3. Perry IV tossed the ball to Travaglini, who flipped it to receiver Cedric Gillette, who sent the ball back to Perry on a flea-flicker. The QB then lofted a pass to longtime best friend Joe Rockwell, who cruised 71 yards into the end zone for the first of his three TDs on the day.
After Rockwell struck again, Perry found Gillette to close out the first half. He opened the second half with another Rockwell score.
Finally, it was Perry to Boese for the 58-yard score to close out his career.
“Coach Ibby (Bryan Ibbitson) let me make the last call and I wanted to throw one to Boese,” said Perry IV. “Boese burnt the defender off the line, I threw it to him and he made a great play. It was a perfect way to end it.”
Perry IV and his receiving corps then rode off into the sunset, receiving countless hugs and pats on the back from teammates as they remained on the sidelines for the final quarter.
“We wanted to stay out there and finish it,” joked Rockwell.
With his 315 yards — on 20 of 30 throwing — Perry IV finished his career with 8,754 yards, second in state history to Flutie (9,014).
He also rushed for a game-high 140 yards on the day, giving the former strict pocket passer 1,007 rushing yards on the season, entering a select list of area QBs to throw and pass for over 1,000 yards in a season.
Heading into the season with just one career catch, Rockwell’s 118 receiving yards and three touchdowns on Thanksgiving gave him 1,063 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Cedric Gillette (7 catches, 80 yards, TD) ended his junior season with 1,158 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
“We just wanted to throw the ball around one more time,” said Gillette. “It’s been amazing to play with E.J. and the rest of these guys. It’s been a wild year.”
Reach sportswriter/videographer David Willis on Twitter at @DWillisET