Huskies offense sputters again in back-to-back losses

Andover's Derek McLaughlin, right, evades a Totino-Grace tackler in driving rain Friday. Photo by Bill Jones

For the second week in a row Andover was kept to one score, this time at the hands of Totino-Grace at Huskies Stadium, 39-6 on Oct. 4.

Huskies head coach Rich Wilkie categorized the latest defeat as missed opportunities. Andover has been out scored 59-13 over the last two games and the Eagles out gained Andover 400-236 yards on offense plus held the ball nearly five minutes longer.

“I think we had eight dropped passes and that just doesn’t happen to us,” Wilkie said as quarterback Connor Wilkie completed 14-35 passes for 164 yards and two interceptions. “It definitely was a shared effort. A couple were for first downs and touchdowns.”

Andover kick returner Derek McLaughlin took the opening kick to Totino’s 20-yard line. The Huskies offense stalled inside the red zone and came away without any points in their Homecoming game.

Both teams struggled to put up points, but Totino-Grace led 7-6 at the break.

After a scoreless first quarter, Totino-Grace marched 67 yards over 10 plays for its first touchdown on a Carlton Djam one-yard plunge for a 7-0 lead.

Connor Wilkie hooked up receiver Justin Freyholtz on a six-yard touchdown pass 21 seconds before halftime to cap an 11-play, 42-yard drive that took 1:31, but Andover missed the extra point to trail 7-6.

Andover’s defense made a strong stand to open the third quarter and it appeared Andover would take the lead early in the second half. But Huskies receiver Chris Larson dropped a would-be touchdown pass that seemed to turn the momentum back toward the visitors.

“It was just a lack of concentration,” Wilkie said about the missed chances. “And when Totino got rolling we had a tough time putting the brakes on them.

“[Totino-Grace] is a good team, well-coached and like any good team they take advantage of the chances they get.”

The Eagles turned it on in the second half, scoring five times over the final 19:23, including runs of 32 and 55 yards in the final 4:38, once the game was already out of reach.

Totino running back Lance Benick scored his second touchdown of the game from 32 yards out and finished with a game-high 110 yards on 16 carries.

Andrew Metz added a 55-yard run for the final Eagles score with 1:34 left. He finished with 69 yards on three carries.

McLaughlin ran for 68 yards to lead Andover and receivers Freyholtz and Larson each had five catches. Larson had 76 yards and Freyholtz had 56 yards and the score. Jake McNallan and Sam Steckman pulled in two catches for 16 yards each.

Andover’s Wes Walstad led the defense with 13 tackles (seven solos) and Jake Nelson had eight tackles. Jason Dilly and Austin Lorch combined on one sack.

According to Wilkie, the defense performed well, but “it’s the same old deal. “If you give them the ball that much, they’re going to score,” Wilkie said.

Andover faces Park Center and Armstrong in the final two regular season games and the goal of a top seed in Section 4-5A remains the same. “We still have to win to get that and the reality is, the regular season is table-setting for the playoffs and everything is still in tact. We hope to get a bye and host a couple games for our fans,” Wilkie said. “There is no magic formula. We need to get a win and the kids know what the goal is and build off that.”

The losses don’t directly affect Andover’s place in the Section 4-5A seedings process. The Huskies are tied with Irondale for the top spot with matching ranking system scores of 81.3 followed by Mahtomedi (73.0), Spring Lake Park (71.6), Cooper (41.6) and North St. Paul (21.9).

Jason Olson is at


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