SUDBURY — Defending state champion North Andover, a team left for dead in early October after a 1-3 start, came within one win of another Division 2 title game journey.
But a return trip to Gillette Stadium wasn’t to be for the Scarlet Knights.
No. 2-seeded Lincoln-Sudbury took a two-touchdown lead early in the second quarter, and No. 4 North Andover could not recover, falling 27-14 in the Division 2 North title game on Friday night.
“They just outplayed us in every facet of the game,” said Scarlet Knights head coach John Dubzinski. “They were more aggressive, they moved the ball well on offense, and we struggled to sustain any offense of our own. The best team won today.”
The game marked the third straight season North Andover and Lincoln-Sudbury have faced off with the Division 2 North crown on the line. The home team has won all three meetings, with the Warriors holding a 2-1 edge.
After falling behind 14-0 early in the second quarter, North Andover cut the lead in half when QB Will Schimmoeller fired a pass to senior Matt Chicko, who used his track speed to break away for a 45-yard touchdown.
The Warriors, however, reclaimed command with a touchdown with 0:45 left before halftime, then another 1:37 into the third quarter to take a 27-7 lead.
North Andover began to rally midway through the third, when Schimmoeller found Chicko again for a 31-yard TD to make it 27-14.
The Scarlet Knights then limited the Warriors to just 15 yards and no first downs over their final five drives, but the damage was done.
North Andover twice drove inside the Lincoln-Sudbury 35-yard line in the fourth quarter, but twice turned the ball over on downs.
“They (North Andover) are a great team,” said first-year Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Jim Girard. “We knew they had dynamic players, some really explosive kids, so we had to be really disciplined defending the running game.”
The Warriors stifled North Andover’s explosive rushing game, limiting the Scarlet Knights to just 53 yards on 25 carries, a week after rushing for 281 yards in a North semifinal upset of No. 1 Reading.
“They were just so much more aggressive than us up front,” said Dubzinski. “We had a hard time protecting. We just got out-played, plain and simple.”
A bright spot for the Knights was the play of Chicko, who caught five passes for a career-best 124 yards and two touchdowns. His previous high was 97 receiving yards in a win over Westford Academy
Jack Carbone (10 tackles), Ricky Brutus (eight tackles) and Max Wolfgang (eight tackles) led the North Andover defense,
The Scarlet Knights now turn their focus to a massive Thanksgiving Day matchup with Andover (7-4), which beat Everett on Friday.
“I told the kids that the goal is always to end the season with a victory,” said Dubzinski. “We’re going to pour everything we can into this last game. We’re going to treat this game like the Super Bowl, and I know Andover is going to do the same thing.”
Lincoln-Sudbury 27, North Andover 14
North Andover (6-4): 0 7 7 0 — 14
Lincoln-Sudbury (8-2): 7 14 6 0 — 27
Division 2 North title game
LS — Griffin Brown 27 pass from Collin Murphy (Tyler Rosenberg kick), 2:10
LS — Gordon Gozdeck 67 run (Rosenberg kick), 10:41
NA — Matt Chicko 45 pass from Will Schimoeller (Seth DiSalvo kick), 8:33
LS — Andrew Cahill 3 run (Rosenberg kick), 0:43
LS — Jesse McCullough 66 pass from Murphy (kick failed), 10:23
NA — Chicko 31 pass from Schimoeller (DiSalvo kick), 6:53
RUSHING: North Andover (25-53) — Freddy Gabin 10-35, Will Schimoeller 10-10, Jadynn Mencia 1-0, Matt Chicko 2-7, Ricky Brutus 1-1, Sebastian Vente 1-0; Lincoln-Sudbury (33-144) — Gordon Gozdeck 10-75, Andrew Cahill 14-59, Leon Mulrain 3-20, Ben Ohler 2-1, Collin Murphy 1-(-2), Jack Malone 3-(-9)
PASSING: North Andover — Schimoeller 11-29-0, 187, Chicko 0-1-0, Peter Radulski 0-1-0; Lincoln-Sudbury — Murphy 6-12-0, 160
RECEIVING: North Andover — Chicko 5-124, Brutus 2-14, Max Wolfgang 1-16, Gabin 2-25, Mencia 1-8; Lincoln-Sudbury — Jesse McCullough 2-83, Nolan O’Brien 1-27, Cahill 1-14, Malone 1-9, Griffin Brown 1-27
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.