ANDOVER — The night after he was inducted into Andover’s Hall of Fame, E.J. Perry III got to celebrate a program-defining win in front of thousands of fans.
His Golden Warriors battled 2021 Division 1 state finalist Central Catholic in a thrilling shootout at Lovely Field, emerging with a 30-29 victory that snapped a 10-year drought against their Merrimack Valley Conference rival.
“The win is huge for the program,” said Perry. “I don’t know if there was 5,000 people [in the stands], but whatever it was, this means the world to the school. I always want to play Central, they bring out the best in us, and this game was back and forth the way it should be. We just want to compete against the big dogs.”
Senior quarterback Scotty Brown (13-for-21 passing, 213 yards, 2 TDs) paced Andover with Andrew Wetterwald (three receptions, 98 yards) on the receiving end of both scores.
Central Catholic (2-2) dominated the line of scrimmage at points, racking up 376 rushing yards while getting consistent pressure on Brown on the other side of the ball. But Andover’s four-year starter evaded the rush to create several huge plays, including a 45-yard bomb to Michael Capachietti (four receptions, 64 yards) that set up Lincoln Beal’s 2-yard rush early in the fourth quarter.
“That’s been Scotty Brown for four years,” said Perry. “When things break down he can make something happen and he made some big things happen.”
Andover (4-0) took a 24-23 lead on Beal’s second touchdown run of the night, but the Raiders came right back with Markys Bridgewater (8 carries, 107 yards, 2 TDs) breaking a 25-yard touchdown run.
The Golden Warriors pulled off a double reverse pass from Capachietti to Brown to get to midfield before Brown hit Wetterwald on a slant that wound up going 50 yards for the go-ahead score. Wetterwald also caught a 20-yard touchdown and a crucial 2-point conversion in the third quarter.
With 5:40 remaining, Central had plenty of time to work down the field, but settled for a 36-yard field goal attempt. While Mike Ryan had converted a 31-yarder to end the first half, his potential game-winner went wide right and Andover took over in celebration with 0:35 left on the clock.
“You just need to stay in a game like that,” said Brown. “We’ve been in shootouts before, but I don’t think I’ve been in one quite like that. We just kept our heads we knew we had the players to win this ballgame and that’s what we did.”