Storybook season has perfect ending, as Niners top Braves to finish 15-0
INDIANAPOLIS — What started as a blowout turned into a shootout. Although a late interception for a touchdown seemed to seal the victory, it wasn't until the final play of the game, when a Brebeuf Jesuit pass into the endzone fell incomplete, that Andrean had its second 3A state football title.
The Fighting 59ers' 35-27 win over the Braves Nov. 29 in Lucas Oil Stadium concluded a 15-0 season, making Andrean only the third region team to finish a perfect season with a state championship.
"This is a very special group of guys ... a 65-man effort," said Andrean head coach Phil Mason. "They did everything we asked of them."
The Niners took a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter, only to see Brebeuf come back with a pair of scores before halftime. The Braves returned in the second half with two more touchdowns and only a missed extra point gave Andrean a slim 28-27 advantage with three minutes left in the third period.
With the state title on the line, Mason turned to his defense and a keep-away offense to put the game away. Two interceptions and a long, clock-eating drive did much of the damage.
After a John Albomonte interception gave Andrean the ball at its own 21, the Niners marched 72 yards in 17 plays. A fourth-down pass in the endzone fell incomplete, turning the ball back to the Braves with 2:12 left.
Brebeuf took to the air, but five plays later, Andrean's Donovan Chandler stepped in front of an Aaron Banks pass and took it to the house 46 yards later.
"I saw the receiver make his cut and jumped his route," said Chandler. "The ball was there. I caught it and ran."
The extra point gave the Niners an eight-point cushion, leaving Brebeuf with a minute remaining to potentially tie the game and go into overtime. The Braves reached the Andrean 21, but Banks' final pass into the endzone fell incomplete, giving Andrean its second state title since 2004.
Two years ago Andrean had an undefeated season, only to lose the sectional opener. Last year the Niners lost the semistate game. Heading into the 2013 finals, junior end Josh Barrajas said, "We were more excited than nervous. We wanted to get the job done, and we used the crowd to our advantage. As long as there was time on the clock, we knew we had to make plays."
Chandler described this Andrean club as "really close, all very good friends, like brothers."
Among those "brothers" is quarterback Matt DeSomer. The three-year starter entered the title game with a banged-up ankle, but he passed for 137 yards and rushed for another 62. "It feels pretty good - a little shaken up, and but I'm good," DeSomer said in the post-game locker room. "I'm playing with my best friends."
Trevor Berg, who left the game injured, led Andrean's ground game with 165 yards on 24 carries and a pair of touchdowns. "We all came together," Berg said, adding that after taking a three-touchdown lead, "we lost our focus and got down a little. In the end, we knew we could get it done."
Mason said these Niners "love to have fun. They're the most relaxed group, and they're not going to get rattled."
Andrean scored on its first drive on a 37-yard Berg run. DeSomer then took to the air, going on top 43 yards to Jamie Johnson for the second score in the opening quarter. After DeSomer had a 1-yard TD sneak midway through the second period, Berg finished the scoring on a 34-yard burst with 1:07 left in the half for a 28-14 lead. Mike Gore was 5-for-5 in extra points.
Chandler and Barrajas led the Niners in tackles with 10 and 8, respectively. Barrajas also knocked down 4 passes, one of which led to a Noah Pavlina first-half interception. Andrean tied a 3A state mark with 3 picks.
Mason, in his sixth year at Andrean, said, "My hat's off to Brebeuf. We haven't been challenged since the Merrillville game, but we won. Fifteen and 0 is pretty darned hard to do at any level."
In gauging his emotions, the Niner skipper noted, "I feel a little sad. "I'm not going to be coaching these guys anymore."