Andre helps Rockets land berth in Super Bowl
READING - A journey that began in the sweltering heat at double sessions in August continues into the cold nights of December.
The calendar year reached its final month, but senior quarterback Stanley Andre showed little wear and tear, willing himself into the end zone twice on barreling rushes, singlehandedly leading Reading to a 20-6 victory over Dracut last night at Birch Meadow - and with it a ticket to the Division 2 Super Bowl against Natick (3:30) Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s a special group,’’ Reading coach John Fiore said of Andre and the Rocket seniors, including Tino Perrina, formerly the state’s leading scorer before he was sidelined by a torn anterior cruciate ligament. “They’ve been through a lot together. I just can’t say enough about how proud I am of every player and coach in our program.’’
The Rockets (12-0) looked like they were in trouble early. Dracut (9-3), which scored on the game’s opening drive after a 45-yard pass from Matt Silva (playing with a dislocated non-throwing shoulder) to Jared Gauthier, got the ball back three plays into Reading’s ensuing drive on a Tom Szymanski interception.
The momentum was in Dracut’s favor, but Reading began a trend of punishing physical play that would continue, stopping the Middies on fourth down at the Rockets’ 6-yard line to regain possession.
“They kept the ball away from us,’’ Dracut coach Jeff Moore said. “They did a good job keeping our offense off the field. They’re a powerful football team and we knew that.’’
Reading controlled the ball for 5 1/2 minutes in the second quarter, including a key conversion on fourth and 10 at the Dracut 29-yard line. Andre plowed into the middle on a keeper, rushing to the 15-yard line. Two plays later, he ran into the end zone unscathed from 13 yards. With a Dan Bourque kick, the Rockets took the lead for good, 7-6.
The Rockets put on a clinic in clock-killing at the start of the third quarter, running 15 plays and earning four first downs. Andre finished the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Pat Mahoney with 51 seconds left in the quarter. Mahoney, at the front corner of the end zone, dived and juggled the ball momentarily before falling with possession.
Dracut was running out of time and options when Reading gained possession with 4:31 left in the contest. Six plays into the drive Andre insured a Rocket victory, running past numerous defenders en route to the end zone for a 23-yard score. With another Bourque kick, it was 20-6.
“We just battled back,’’ Fiore said of Reading’s early deficit. “Nobody lost their composure. There was an unbelievable focus from everyone on this team.’’