(VIDEO) 2016 MIAA Playoffs - Perry and Andover Prevail in Overtime Shootout
Andover defeats Lexington
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
LEXINGTON, Mass – Andover quarterback EJ Perry IV '17 comes from football royalty.
His father and four of his uncles played quarterback, wide receiver, and excelled at every other sport under the sun and three of those uncles continue to coach at the collegiate or professional level.
Yet after throwing for 394 yards, rushing for 176 more and accounting for all eight of Andover’s touchdowns in a thrilling 54-46 overtime win at Lexington to open the MIAA State Tournament, Perry IV is living up to that legacy to say the least.
“Before this game, my brother James called my mom and said that I know you had seven kids, and five of them are great football players, but all put together we’re not as good as EJ [Perry IV],” began his father and Andover’s head coach, EJ Perry.
“I knew that tonight, [Perry IV] was going to have the game of his life. He’s had games like this, but to throw five and run for three more [touchdowns] is really special.”
The second seed in the Division 1 North bracket, Lexington (7-1) entered the postseason undefeated while averaging 41.1 points per game, while Andover (4-4) crept into the playoffs on the strength of their own prolific offense.
Those expecting a shootout between these two teams were not disappointed, as they lit up the scoreboard with a combined nine touchdowns in the first half.
While the Minutemen led 42-29 going into the break, the Golden Warriors made the right adjustments during halftime. Perry IV wasted no time in finding his favorite receiver Cedric Gillette (10 receptions, 293 yards, 3 TDs) for a 54-yard score early in the third quarter, and he hit Gillette on an identical play for a 47-yard touchdown after a successful onside kick.
Andover’s defense stood strong throughout the third quarter by keeping Lexington quarterback Sal Frelick (18 carries, 139 yards, 2 TDs) within the pocket. And eventually, Perry IV was able to rush for his second score of the game to give the Golden Warriors a 48-42 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
Frelick (7-of-12, 160 passing yards, 3 TDs) responded by hitting running back Ben Quint for a 46-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 48 and both offenses came up short in their attempts to break the deadlock before overtime.
In the extra period, Perry IV once again but Andover on his back by rushing twice for 10 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown, and the Golden Warriors defense chased down Frelich to prevent Lexington from executing a matching score.
Stars Who Shined
EJ Perry IV ‘17 QB/DB – The Golden Warriors run a rare type of high school offense in that they rarely hand the ball off to their running backs. That puts tons of responsibility on Perry IV, but he was able to connect on 18 of his 34 pass attempts for 394 passing yards and five touchdowns that were all badly needed to overcome the teams’ defensive mistakes in the first half.
When Lexington’s defense began to drop back into coverage, Perry IV made them pay by taking off for chunk yardage and running for three more scores, including the game-winner in overtime.
This is the same quarterback who set an MIAA record with 636 passing yards in a playoff loss to Central Catholic last year, so he felt right at home in this type of contest.
“It’s fun on offense,” Perry IV said about getting into a shootout. “Playing defense is a little frustrating and you wish you could stop them, but Sal Frelick, man, he’s unbelievable. Sometimes you get caught watching and you don’t know what to do because he’s been running around for 20 seconds and then he makes a play.”
Cedric Gillette ‘18 WR/DB – At 6-foot-1 and 168 pounds, Gillette is somewhat of a hybrid between a wide receiver and a tight end. He lined up in the slot on the majority of Andover’s offensive snaps, but with his deceiving speed, he was able to blaze past man-to-man coverage for touchdowns of 85, 54 and 46 yards on virtually the same play call.
“We hit it for a score on the first play of the game and at halftime we said, let’s run it again and see if they cover it,” recalled Perry IV.
“[Gillette] is unbelievable. He’s the hardest working kid on the team. This offseason he went from a 110-pound player and now he’s starting on varsity as our number one receiver right now.”
Tomas Hughes ‘17 TE/LB – While the final score might indicate that there wasn’t much defense played in this contest, the Golden Warriors came up with a couple of huge stops in the second half to snatch the momentum from the home team.
Hughes and his fellow linebackers were able to keep Frelick in the pocket and hold the shifty quarterback to just 17 rushing yards in the second half and overtime after he gashed Andover for 122 yards on the ground in the first half. Hughes also managed to sack Frelich on a key play late in the third quarter.
Joe Rockwell ‘17 WR/DB – Complimenting Gillette as an outside receiver, Rockwell caught five balls for 57 yards and a touchdown, including a 20-yard score on a beautifully run wheel route early in the second quarter.
Junior wide receiver John Marotta also made a phenomenal grab for a 16-yard score early in the second quarter, as all of Perry’s targets contributed to his huge night.
Sal Frelick ‘18 QB/DB – The Boston College baseball commit flashed his incredible athleticism throughout the first half, as he routinely extended plays in order to find his teammates down the field.
He cut through the entire Andover defense on a 48-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first minute of the game and threw a beautiful pass to senior Spencer Kendall for a 30-yard score right before the half.
Spencer Kendall ‘17 WR/DB – A true two-way player, Kendall made a huge impact on both sides of the ball in this contest. While he only caught three balls on the night, two of those went for touchdowns and one was a successful two-point conversion that out Lexington up 42-29 right before the half.
Kendall also broke up a long pass the would’ve put Andover in position to win the game in regulation, and intercepted Perry IV on third down to give Lexington a chance to win the game with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Ben Quint ‘18 RB/DB – With Quint running read option alongside Frelick, the future is bright for Lexington heading into next season. Both juniors are captains for the Minutemen and Quint did a great job of keeping the defense honest in this game, as he rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries during the first half.
He also picked off Perry IV on Andover’s second drive of the game, setting up a score that put Lexington up 22-8 early in the contest. While he was largely bottled up in the second half, Quint ran a delayed route down the seam to get wide open for a 46-yard touchdown that tied the game at 48.
James Lane ‘18 TE/DE – Lexington’s defense was able to generate pressure on Perry IV from time to time, but the Boston College commit simply used his athleticism to elude the rush on multiple occasions. However, Lane did bring him down twice for sacks as part of a solid effort.
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