North Andover Scarlet Knights Football '16

Perry (7 TD passes) ends career in spectacular fashion

ANDOVER — As the clock began to tick down in the fourth quarter, Andover QB E.J. Perry IV was pulled aside by his coaches.
“They said, ‘This is the last pass of your high school career,’” Perry IV remembered. “So they asked me what I wanted to call.”
Like with so many choices in his record-setting career, Perry IV made the perfect decision.
The soon-to-be Boston College quarterback stepped back in the pocket and dropped a picture-perfect over-the-shoulder pass into the hands of classmate Jack Boese. All he had to do was shake one defender then cruise into the end zone for a 58-yard TD.
“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.”
That was touchdown No. 7 on the day for Perry IV, to five different receivers as Andover rolled to a 49-20 victory over North Andover before a small crowd of about 300 fans in the second installment of their Thanksgiving Day rivalry.
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.”
Perry won’t be playing basketball or baseball as he’s graduating early and will enroll at BC in January.
Perry IV and his receivers were unstoppable in their Thanksgiving finale, as the QB threw touchdown passes on all but one possession he played before leaving the game early in the fourth.
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 then rode off into the sunset, receiving countless hugs and pats on the back from teammates as he remained on the sidelines for the final quarter.
“We wanted to stay out there and finish it,” joked Rockwell. “It’s so sad to think that’s the last time I will be catching passes from E.J. But we went out the way we wanted to. We wanted to finish it off right.”
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.
Sure-handed duo
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.”
For the Knights (4-7), one highlight was a brilliant broken field run by Darren Watson for a 40-yard score in the first quarter. He also caught a 52-yard TD pass from Jake McElroy.
Perry’s final numbers
E.J. Perry IV’s new records: 
Career passing yards — 8,754 (second in state history)
Career TD passes — 114 (second in state history)
Season TD passes — 47 (ties state record)
Season passing yards — 3,416

Andover, North Andover
North Andover (4-7):      6  6 0 8 — 20
Andover (6-5):     21 14 7 7 — 49
First Quarter
 A — Jeremy Travaglini 8 pass from E.J. Perry IV (Charlie Ziegenbein kick), 9:28
 NA — Darren Watson 40 run (rush failed), 5:53
 A — John Marotta 8 pass from Perry IV (Ziegenbein kick), 3:22
 A — Joe Rockwell 71 pass from Perry IV (Ziegenbein kick),1:21
Second Quarter
 A — Rockwell 5 pass from Perry IV (Ziegenbein kick),7:57
 NA — Jake McElroy 52 pass from Watson (rush failed), 2:22
 A — Cedric Gillette 18 pass from Perry IV (Ziegenbein kick),0:53
Third Quarter
 A — Rockwell 6 pass from Perry IV (Ziegenbein kick), 9:39
Fourth Quarter
 A — Jake Boese 58 pass from Perry IV (Ziegenbein kick), 9:45
 NA — Connor Walsh 26 interception return, (Joseph Allen rush), 2:49
RUSHING: ANDOVER (18-160) — E.J. Perry IV 14-140, Vishvesh Kaul 4-20; NO. ANDOVER (28-96) — Darren Watson 14-94, Connor Walsh 8-5, Jake McElroy 4-(-7), Will Testa 2-4
PASSING: ANDOVER — Perry IV 20-30-0, 315, Nick Dellatto 1-2-1, 10: NO. ANDOVER — Watson 1-1-0, 52; McElroy 3-6-0, 14; Walsh 0-1-0
RECEIVING: ANDOVER — Joe Rockwell 5-118, Cedric Gillette 7-80, Jack Boese 3-80, John Marotta 3-24, Jeremy Travaglini 2-13, Patrick Dennehy 1-10; NO. ANDOVER — McElroy 1-52, Watson 2-11, Nick Tierno 1-3

Reach sportswriter/videographer David Willis on Twitter at @DWillisET

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