ANDOVER – Every time Goddard would score, Andover Central had the answer – and in spectacular fashion, no less.
The Jaguars outscored the Lions 27-13 after halftime, erasing a 13-7 deficit and holding on for a 34-26 victory Friday night in newly christened Jaguar Stadium. Among the Andover Central scoring plays were a 97-yard pass and runs of 70 and 84 yards.
"Some of them were explosive plays that we didn’t expect to be explosive," Jaguars coach Derek Tuttle said afterward. "They just kind of hit big at a good time and gave us some good momentum."
But Andover Central (3-0) seemingly needed every point to counteract the rapid-fire attack of Goddard senior quarterback Kyler Semrad, who completed 31 of 43 passes for 349 yards and three of the Lions’ four touchdowns.
Neither team was clicking in the first half, but both squads made up for that in the second half.
Goddard (3-1) struck first on its first drive, going 54 yards in 10 plays for a 6-0 lead on a 2-yard pass from Semrad to Jake Shope. Shope finished with 125 receiving yards and two scores.
But in the waning seconds of the first quarter and the Jaguars at their 3, seniors Chase White and Jack Bell connected on a 97-yard scoring play for a 7-6 lead.
"I give credit to (Bell)," White said afterward. "I just throw it up, and trust my players. That’s all it’s really about."
Bell said, "I couldn’t have asked for a better ball. I just had to do the rest by running."
Goddard came right back and took a 13-7 lead into the break on a 33-yard pass from Semrad to senior Soren Carr.
Andover Central retook the lead after a Bell interception at the Goddard 44 on the Lions’ second play of the half. The Jaguars went 56 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 12-yard scoring pass from White to Kyle Kohman and 14-13 advantage.
Goddard tried to climb out of the hole early in the fourth quarter, but Semrad was intercepted by sophomore Bronx Wood at the 15, and he rumbled into the end zone to make the score 20-13.
A score from Semrad to Shope of 13 yards tied the score at 20-20, but on the next play from scrimmage, senior Jacob Rees outran the Goddard defenders for a 70-yard score.
On the next drive, junior Dylan Reese pulled the Lions to within a point, 27-26, with 1:44 to play, fraying some Andover Central nerves.
But junior Ashton Barkdull pretty much iced the victory by breaking through the line on a draw and racing 84 yards for Andover Central’s final touchdown.
Getting his touchdown run was a welcome relief for Rees, he said afterward.
"There were probably about 3-4 plays where I was a step away from breaking it earlier in the half," he said. "And I knew that one time, it was going to happen. Right there, it was perfectly blocked. I broke one tackle and was gone. It was an amazing feeling to know that we stepped up when we needed to."
Andover Central managed to match Goddard’s air attack with 291 yards on the ground, paced by Barkdull’s 143 yards on 13 carries and Rees’ 11 for 141 yards.
"Goddard did a great job of defending our pass, and so we had to resort to a lot of our running game stuff," Tuttle said. "But the backs really hit the holes hard, and that broke open for Jacob and Ashton."
Barkdull praised his blockers for his success. He also had a 53-yard run earlier in the game.
"Our line, we’ve got a great line; you’ve just got to work behind those boys and eventually you’ll break one," he said.
Goddard 6;7;0;13 – 26
Andover Central 7;0;7;20 – 34
G – Shope 2 pass from Semrad (pass failed)
AC – Bell 97 pass from White (White kick)
G – Carr 33 pass from Semrad (Collins kick)
AC – Kohman 12 pass from White (White kick)
AC – Wood 15 interception return (kick failed)
G – Shope 13 pass from Semrad (Collins kick)
AC – Jacob Rees 70 run (White kick)
G – Reese 3 run (kick blocked)
AC – Barkdull 84 run (White kick)
RUSHING: Goddard: Bantz 4-22, Reese 13-9, Semrad 6-0. TOTAL 23-31. Andover Central: Barkdull 13-143, Jacob Rees 11-141, Jackson Rees 1-8, Wilson 1-4, Bell 1-2, White 6-(-7) TOTAL: 33-291.
PASSING: Goddard: Semrad 31-43-2-349. Andover Central: White 5-8-0-119.
RECEIVING: Goddard: Shope 11-125, Bantz 6-118, Carr 5-76, Reese 2-25, Haskell 2-5. Andover Central: Bell 1-97, Kohman 3-28, Simms 1-(-6).