LEXINGTON — Minimal tackling, 102 total points, and a whole lot of EJ Perry.
Just another day in the life of an Andover football fan.
In an epic, jaw-dropping first-round playoff matchup Friday night, Andover defeated Lexington, 54-48, in overtime behind eight Perry touchdowns — five passing and three rushing.
Andover will play Saturday’s Acton-Boxborough-St. John’s Prep winner next weekend in round two of the Division 1 North bracket.
Andover coach and father EJ Perry brimmed with pride following the win.
“These games are really for my dad,” said the elder Perry. “He never missed EJ play. My brother James called my mom and said ‘I know you had seven kids and I know five of them were good football players, but all put together we’re not as good as EJ.’
“I knew tonight he was going to have the game of his life.”
With his jersey number almost obscured by mud on a damp, frigid night, Perry did just that.
Attaining possession first in overtime after a dizzying four quarters, the Golden Warriors struck the knockout blow.
Following a 2-yard keeper that brought the ball to the 8, Perry weaved his way through defenders in slippery fashion, finding the end zone to give Andover a 54-48 lead.
A failed 2-point conversion left the door open for Lexington’s own star quarterback Sal Frelick.
The Minutemen couldn’t capitalize.
On a night dominated by dueling offenses, Andover punched its ticket to the second round with a rare but clutch defensive stop.
As soon as Frelick’s fourth-down heave hit the muddied turf, chaos ensued.
“You just have to make a play,” said the younger Perry. “That’s overtime in a nut shell; one play changes everything. You get a turnover or a big stop and it changes the game. You have to score every time you get the ball in OT.”
Perry, a BC quarterback commit, finished with 385 yards on 19-of-37 passing while accruing 182 yards on the ground on 21 carries.
Junior wideout Cedric Gillette finished with 10 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s unbelievable,” the QB said of his main target. “He’s in there every single day. He works the hardest on the team out of everyone. I think he weighed like 110 [pounds] last year and now he’s starting on the varsity.”
Frelick impressed in defeat, passing for three touchdowns (two to junior running back Ben Quint) and running for two more on 288 yards of total offense.
Despite what the scoreboard may have indicated, Andover’s defense responded after halftime, only allowing 6 points in the final two quarters and overtime.
Three Golden Warrior touchdowns to begin the third quarter turned a 42-29 halftime deficit into a 48-42 lead heading to the fourth.
Lexington finally rediscovered its groove with 6:38 left to play, as Frelick hit Quint for a 46-yard score, tying the game. Neither team would find the end zone again until Perry’s OT magic.