A rivalry as intense as Andover vs. Andover Central should go down to the last play of the game And fittingly, it did. Twice.
With the score tied, Toshi Hayashi came on to try a 26-yard field goal for the Trojans with three seconds left in the game. The Jaguars stunted and crashed a defender from the secondary up and over the line. He was able to get a piece of the ball and deflected it to the left, no good.
However, Central was called for offside and the ball was moved five yards closer. There was no time left on the clock, but a half cannot end on a penalty by the defense.
Given a second chance, Hayashi and the Trojans came through. The snap was good, the line held long enough and Hayashi booted the ball through the uprights from 21 yards out to lift Andover to a 17-14 win.
"The first kick, as soon as I saw him clear it (the line) cleanly I knew I was in trouble," Hayashi, said. "It was good practice, and I knew I was ready for the second one."
Needless to say, this was a big win for Andover, now 4-1 overall and 3-1 in league.
"This is as big as it gets for our guys. They've been through a tough couple of years," said AHS coach Mike Lee. "To beat a team like that in a game like this, it's a big night."
The winning field goal was set when Andover's Miles Starks stepped inside of Kolten Holinde to pick off a pass at the Central 48 with 2:09 remaining.
Cole Gumeringer picked up five yards and Alex Olson six for a first down at the 37. Gumeringer hit Dallas Bruner for five more before Mason Biberstein picked up 14 yards on three carries to move the ball to the 9-yard line. Enter Hayashi for the game-winner.
"It was a helluva a game, it really was," said ACHS coach Tom Audley. "As far as our series … as far as evenly matched, heck of a ball game down to the end, this was probably one of the best ones."
Central (2-3, 1-2) started its first scoring drive from its own 36-yard line. Big plays were completions from Blake Meier to Cameron Hurley for 15 and 18 yards. With second and goal from the 10, Lucas Milner pushed the ball to the 3. From there, Meier hit Taylor Brown for the score with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.
The Trojans came right back from their own 39 on their next possession. Biberstein, one of several who stepped up big-time in the absence of Chase Ogden, carried seven times for 28 yards on the drive. Gumeringer showed his ability to run, picking up 13 yards to the Central 19. Olson scored on a 1-yard plunge that tied the game with 7:55 left in the second quarter.
Page 2 of 2 - Each team scored once more before intermission. Central recovered a fumbled punt at the Andover 21 to keep a drive alive. Five plays later Meier scampered in from the 1.
Hayashi gave his teammates great field position by returning the ensuing kickoff to the Jags' 21. Biberstein carried four straight times for the score. Hayashi's extra point tied the game at 14-all with 44 seconds left before halftime.
"To be honest with you, I thought their kickoff return right before half shifted the momentum," Audley said.
Milner carried 22 times and gained 61 yards for Central. Meier was 9 of 18 passing for 122 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Holinde caught four passes for 63 yards.
Biberstein gained 91 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Olson picked up 44 yards on six carries and scored once.
"Andover Central is kind of a measuring stick," Lee said. "You're going to play a very good team. They're going to give you their best."