Andover Golden Warriors Football '07

Fri, Nov 09, 2007 07:00 PM @ Andover
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Valley Forge 0 2 0 14 16
Andover 0 14 7 0 21

Hughes, Andover far from outmatched

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Saturday, November, 10 By David Willis
Staff writer

ANDOVER | After allowing its opening two drives to fizzle in Andover territory, Valley Forge Military Academy finally seemed poised to grab the lead with the ball on the Golden Warriors' 8-yard line. But Brendan Hughes had other plans.

"The quarterback had been looking me off the whole game," said the senior. "He threw a quick slant and I jumped it and made a play on the ball."

The defensive back, who missed all of last week with a staph infection, picked off the pass in the end zone to halt the drive. Andover then responded with touchdowns on two straight possessions to grab control of the eventual 21-16 victory over the non-league foe, who travelled all the way from Wayne, Pa. Valley Forge (5-5) is rebuilding, but does have a national reputation, having sent 14 players to the NFL over the years.

"That stop at the goal line (by Hughes) was huge," said Golden Warriors quarterback Mike Pierce. "Watching them on film, they looked like an NFL team they were so big. We were worried. But we got over it in the first quarter and we realized we could play with them."

It was Hughes' first interception of the season. He added a pair of tackles and knocked down another pass.

He also paced a Golden Warrior defense that shut down the Trojans' passing attack. Valley Forge quarterback Randall Nixon finished 9-of-20 throwing for 79 yards and the pick. He was 1 for 4 on the game's final drive.

"We know we messed up against Chelmsford," said Hughes, who helped the Warriors improve to 7-3, 5-2 MVC. "Today we tried to keep our linebacker in the box and cover the flats, then just let the defensive backs do the rest."

Junior defensive tackle Andrew Lebowitz had a pair of sacks, one of them on a crucial fourth-down play in which he sliced through the middle and dragged down Nixon.

Sam Clark led the way with 12 tackles, giving him a team-high 63 for the season. Tripp Stevens and Kevin Hitchko each added seven stops.

On offense, it was all Pierce, all the time. Andover's all-time leading passer completed 19 of 32 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He surpassed 2,000 passing yards and set the modern-area record for single-season passing yards.

"We saw we had an upper-hand in the passing game," said Pierce, who now has 19 TD passes this fall. "They were playing soft on the outside and were giving up the middle. So we took the short stuff over the middle."

Slot receivers Mike Morander and Peter Hanson turned out to be the key targets. Morander caught three passes for 119 yards and touchdowns of 65 and 40 yards.

Hanson added four catches for 56 yards. Matt Rayner chipped in with three catches for 45 yards, including his seventh touchdown of the season.

After falling behind by 19 points, the Trojans did muster a comeback with two fourth-quarter scores. But a two-point conversion was knocked down, and Stevens made the tackle on a final short pass to the sidelines.

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