Saturday, October 29, 2016

Perry's 9 Total TDs Push Andover Past Lexington in Overtime Classic

By Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7)

LEXINGTON, Mass. - Two of the highest scoring teams in the Bay State this season fought down to the wire in a wild shootout to open the MIAA State Tournament.

Lexington quarterback Sal Frelick was masterful as a passer and runner throughout the first half but, in the end, Andover’s EJ Perry IV was just a bit better, as he accounted for nine touchdowns, and ran for the game-winning score in a 54-48 overtime victory.

“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 four more [touchdowns] is really special,” said Andover head coach EJ Perry III.

As the second seed in the Division 1 North bracket, Lexington (7-1) entered the postseason undefeated and averaging 41.1 points per game, while No. 7 Andover (4-4) crept into the playoffs on the strength of their own prolific offense.

The Minutemen led 42-29 going into the break, but the Golden Warriors made the right adjustments during halftime. Perry IV (18-of-34, 394 passing yards, 5 TDs; 21 carries, 176 yards, 4 TDs) 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.

“We hit that play for a score on the first snap of the game and at halftime we said, let’s run it again and see if they cover it,” Perry IV explained about Gillette’s successive seam-busting touchdown catches.

Perry IV continued, “[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.”

Meanwhile, Andover’s defense stood strong throughout the third quarter by keeping Frelick (18 carries, 139 yards, 2 TDs) within the pocket. The Boston College baseball commit rushed for 122 yards in the first half, but was held to just 17 rushing yards after the break.

That was all that Perry IV and company needed to snare the momentum. The Golden Warriors forced a punt, recovered a fumble, and eventually, Perry was able to rush for his second score of the game to give Andover a 48-42 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

“We played [Lexington] two years ago in the playoffs and got down 33-13,” Perry IV recalled. “It was too late by then. So we knew that we had to take play one possession at a time and really focus this time around. They had us again early, but we just kept battling.”

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 put Andover on his back by rushing twice for 10 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown, and the Golden Warriors defense chased down Frelick to prevent Lexington from executing a matching score.

After the game, Perry IV had nothing but praise for his adversary in Frelick, who will join him at Boston College after one more year at Lexington.

The son of a coach, who set an MIAA record with 636 passing yards in a loss to Central Catholic during last year’s playoffs, Perry IV said he felt right at home in a shootout against Frelick and the Minutemen.

“It’s fun on offense,” Perry IV said. “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.”

Blame the defenses for missing tackles and blowing assignments in this high-scoring playoff game if you want, but there’s no doubt that Perry IV and Frelick are two of the most elusive, talented, and gutsy signal callers in the state, which is probably the primary reason that their head-to-head battle went down to the wire. 

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