ANDOVER — Everyone in attendance could feel the momentum shift.
"We need to fix our punt," said Andover coach E.J. Perry. "It was a tie game, then we get two punts blocked and suddenly we're trailing by two scores. We struggled on offense, but the punt was a problem."
The Golden Warriors could not recover from a pair of blocked punts, one returned for a touchdown, and managed just 35 yards of offense in the second half. Chelmsford, the No. 8 team in Eastern Mass., took full advantage with a 35-7 victory last night.
It was the 11th time in 12 years that the Lions have defeated Andover, and since The Eagle-Tribune began keeping complete records in 1984, the Golden Warriors are now 5-21-1 against Chelmsford.
"Special teams is such a huge part of the game," said Lions coach Bruce Rich. "The punt game is the biggest momentum swing in football, and we were able to swing it twice. Chris Marino got in there twice, and that was the big difference."
The Golden Warriors took advantage of their own big play on special teams early in the second quarter. After recovering a fumbled punt, Tom Dempsey fired a pass to Ben McQuaide, who used some fancy footwork to get into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 7-7.
But that would be as close as Andover would get. Chelmsford scored on the following possession, held Andover to a three-and-out, then blocked their first punt and ran it back for a touchdown.
After allowing Methuen to rush for a whopping 313 yards a week ago, the Lions limited the Golden Warriors to just 76 ground yards last night. Star linebacker Ned Deane led Andover with 41 yards on eight carries while seeing limited duty at fullback. Andy Coke added 16 carries for 38 yards.
"We really focused on the run," said Rich. "Methuen ran all over us last week, and the real key to football is stopping the run first of all."
The Lions, who lost All-Scholastic-caliber running back Joe Gennaro in the second quarter to an apparent shoulder injury, also benefited from an interception return for a touchdown for their final score of the day.
Deane again led the Golden Warriors with seven tackles and a sack, while Kevin Sharrio had six stops and Mark Zavrl had five stops and a sack.
"We need to do everything better," said Perry. "Punting, line, backs, receivers — we really need to take a look at the way we did things."
Chelmsford 35, Andover 7
Chelmsford (5-1):7 14 7 7 — 35
Andover (4-2):0 7 0 0 — 7
C — Anthony Andre 30 pass from Joe Gennaro (Charlie Calenda kick), 5:15
A — Ben McQuaide 17 pass from Tom Dempsey (Mark Zavrl kick), 8:34
C — Zach Hayes 5 pass from A.J. Rotella (Calenda kick), 2:50
C — Corey Everleigh 15 blocked punt return (Calenda kick), 1:52
C — Eddie Sheridan 1 run (Calenda kick), 1:41
C — Hayes 41 interception return (Calenda kick), 7:00
RUSHING: A (29-76) — Ned Deane 8-41, Andy Coke 16-38, Brian Miller 2-6, Tom Dempsey 3-(-9); C (32-139) — Eddie Sheridan 13-75, Joe Gennaro 8-41, Matt Rabbito 4-20, A.J. Rotella 4-14, Colby Emanouil 2-(-4), Sean Sarault 1-(-7)
PASSING: A — Dempsey 5-17-1, 30; C (6-12-0, 88) — Rotella 5-11-0, 58; Gennaro 1-1-0, 30
RECEIVING: A — Ben McQuaide 1-17, Miller 3-9, Will Heikkinen 1-4; C — Anthony Andre 3-65, Zach Hayes 2-14, Andrew Jaquint 1-9
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