By Steve Hamrick
---- — PEABODY — Andover just missed qualifying for the Division 1 football playoffs, but that hasn’t kept the Golden Warriors from enjoying themselves in the also-ran category.
One week after posting a 29-point victory, the Warriors continued their winning ways with a convincing 35-14 victory over Peabody last night.
The offensive explosion held true to season-long form, which has seen Andover post at least 33 points in each of their five wins while being held to 22 or fewer in each of their four losses. In their two outings since being knocked out of the postseason picture, the Warriors have outscored opponents 74-24.
Peabody (3-6) looked strong early on, going 90 yards on 15 plays on its opening drive and scoring when Ryan Collins ran it in from 9 yards out.
“We knew coming into the game that’s what we had to do,” Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt said. “We had to control the ball and keep their offense off the field. You obviously saw what (the Warriors) could do when they got opportunities.
“The key was to run our offense ... but before you knew it, it was 14-7 and we’ve lost all our momentum.”
Following the Peabody touchdown, Andover’s Oliver Eberth ran 53 yards for a score on his team’s first offensive play to tie the game. A successful onside kick gave the Golden Warriors the ball back, and they scored again on Jack Sylvester’s 5-yard run.
“Coach (Ryan) Nolan and (Peter) Reilly do a tremendous job with the special teams,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry.”Those two worked all week and we saw on the film they were vulnerable to that (onside kick). We just wanted to come out and make sure we took the lead — then went after them.”
From there, quarterback E.J. Perry IV threw a pair of touchdown passes (19 yards to Christopher Nicholas and 43 yards to Brandon Marti) and ran for a conversion, while Eberth hit Kenny Doherty with a 9-yard TD strike.
The Tanners added a 30-yard scoring toss from Michael Raymond to Andrew McLaughlin with 6:04 remaining to cut their deficit to 21.