LOWELL — Despite Andover High dictating pace for most of a scoreless first half, Massachusetts high school football’s ultimate brawler, St. John’s Prep, never stopped punching.
All those body shots took their toll in the second half as Prep junior sensation Jon Thomas finally found some room here on the Cawley Stadium turf.
“Jonny Rockets” zoomed through a second-half for the ages, chewing up 184 yards and scoring all three TDs on 20 carries, lifting the Prep to a 21-0 Eastern Mass. Division 1 semifinal win over the Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 champions.
Thomas finished his night early with 28 carried for 209 yards, adding a pair of catches for 24 yards. He accounted for all but 69 of the Prep’s 302 yards.
“They had nine people in the box, sometimes 10, and we’re still pounding it at them,” said Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “He just had to get it through that first level, and he was gone.”
St. John’s will now face Brockton for the EMass. Division 1 title Saturday, most likely at Bentley University.
Andover clearly had the better of it in the first half, outgaining St. John’s, 136-70, and making a pair of trips into the red zone.
But a missed field goal (wide left from 29) and a 4th-and-1 failure from the Eagles’ 5, was all that Andover could muster.
“The missed opportunities hurt,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry, who has now coached Andover to a pair of MVC titles in the last three years, falling twice in this game. “We needed to do a better job of taking advantage.”
The 0-0 tie at the break was a new lease on life for the Catholic Conference champs.
Andover junior Jack Sylvester burst a big one on the first play from scrimmage after halftime, a 64-yard dash from the 18 to the 18. But the Prep defense slammed the door shut there, forcing another field goal miss (from 31) and holding the Warriors to 50 yards and two turnovers over the next 14 Andover plays.