Andover may be young at several positions.
But the Huskies are becoming old pros at handling pressure-packed fourth quarters.
A week after a narrow 34-28 defeat at Alexandria, Andover bounced back by winning a 34-20 rollercoaster thriller over visiting Rogers on Friday.
“We played well against a very talented and well-coached team,” Andover head coach Rich Wilkie said.
“Rogers is very explosive offensively and we were able to limit many of their big plays when it counted.”
Rogers scored the opening touchdown of the night early in the first quarter, but the rest of the half belonged to Andover.
Andy Groebner and Carsen Syke ran for scores and Connor Knoepfle connected with Lucas Beberg on a 34-yard touchdown pass to give the Huskies a 20-7 halftime lead.
Rogers would not go quietly, though, reeling off a pair of scores in the third quarter to tie the score at 20-20 and set the stage for a dramatic fourth.
Andover took the lead on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Knoepfle to Beberg with just over four minutes remaining, then after a defensive stop, sealed the game on Syke’s second score with 1:47 to go.
“I felt the kids handled the momentum swing really well,” Wilkie said. “The game gets emotional and the time of possession becomes crucial late in the game. It was really satisfying that our defense held strong when they needed to late in the fourth quarter.”
Syke carried the ball 27 times for 175 yards and Knoepfle threw for 172 yards, 97 of which went to Beberg.
“Offensively, we really played well on the offensive line,” Wilkie said. “I can’t remember the last time we rushed for more yards than we passed and that’s really encouraging at this point of the season. Carson Syke had 175 yards and looked great.”
Defensively, Hayden Dunleavy set two single game team records with seven tackles for loss and two and a half sacks.
The next test for Andover will be at home Sept. 15 against Chisago Lake Area, which has opened the season with losses against Becker 56-44 and against Cambridge-Isanti 33-24.
“Each week poses new challenges and adjustments and we are pretty young at a lot of positions,” Wilkie said. “I think after two games we have made some great improvements, especially on defense. I thought we played really well in crucial situations late in the game and that should continue to help us down the stretch.”