LAWRENCE — Johnny Thomas may have loaded, cocked and aimed the weapon.
But Michael Geaslen fired the perfect kill shot on Central Catholic, ending the home team’s night with a perfect 35-yard TD strike to Logan Mahoney in a huge Division 1 showdown here before about 2,000 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“Coach was yelling at me to throw to the other side where we had (three receivers), but my receiver on the left, Logan Mahoney, had 1-on-1 with no safety help,” said Geaslen, the St. John’s Prep quarterback. “He gave me the signal and made a great move up the field. I just hit him.”
In stride, perfectly to put the game away at 33-21 with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter as the No. 4 St. John’s went on to ice the No. 9 Raiders 40-21.
For Andover’s Geaslen, it was a night of getting the job done when he had to as Central stacked the box with nine in a bid to slow Thomas.
“It’s on me, but there really was no pressure,” said Geaslen, who was 6 of 10 for 97 yards and added a TD run. “We spread it out, hoping to make room for Johnny but teams are going to stack the line no matter who we play. We just have to make plays.”
The Maryland-bound “Johnny Rockets” lived up to the pre-game hype and then some. On the ground, he riddled the Raiders with 232 yards on 30 carries. But it was his final barrage — a 106-yard interception return on which coach Jim O’Leary noted, “I’ve never seen a return like that in my life,” — that left jaws dropping all over the joint with 3:03 remaining.
“In a word, you could call that return overpowering,” said Geaslen. “But it was so much more. He was running away from them, and it looked like there guys were trying to run away from him, like they didn’t want to tackle him.”