NEEDHAM — He didn’t register a rush, reception, or pass in the second half, but Mike Elcock found the ball in his hands when it mattered most Friday night.
The Division 2 leader in receiving touchdowns with 10 entering the game, the senior wideout pounced on a Needham fumble in the end zone for a touchdown with 4:35 remaining. Elcock’s fumble recovery wound up being the spark Needham needed to win its Division 2 South playoff opener, 42-28, over Duxbury at Memorial Field.
“I just saw it squirt out,” said Elcock. “Mike [Panepinto] got hit right when he got the ball. I saw it go under a huge pile and fortunately it popped out and I was able to capitalize and jump on it.”
A week after collecting a school-record six touchdowns in the Bay State Carey title game, Panepinto amassed 228 yards and four touchdowns. The Rockets (7-1) will face Mansfield in the D2 South semifinals next weekend.
“It is a very tough sectional,” said Needham coach Dave Duffy. “We’re out of the frying pan and into the fryer next week down in Mansfield. But to get by Duxbury, that’s a very good football team. To have our first home playoff win, that’s very exciting for the town and for the community.”
Trailing, 21-7, late in the first half, the Green Dragons stormed back. Freshman quarterback Bobby Maimaron (189 total yards, four touchdowns) connected with senior wideout Wes Quinzani for a 69-yard touchdown pass. A failed point-after attempt kept the Rockets’ lead at 8 heading into the break.
On Duxbury’s opening drive of the second half, Maimaron marched the Dragons 48 yards on seven plays, capped by an 8-yard TD rush by the quarterback.
Sean McCarthy found Cam Walsh on the 2-point conversion to tie the game. On Duxbury’s ensuing drive, Maimaron connected with senior Drew Hadley for a 5-yard score to give the Dragons a 28-21 lead with 10:23 left in the fourth.
However, Needham answered right back. Starting at his 5-yard line, Panepinto rushed three times for 45 yards to bring the ball to midfield. Two plays later, the senior running back took a screen pass from senior quarterback Ryan Charter, stiff-armed a Duxbury cornerback, and ran 50 yards to the end zone. With 8:10 remaining, the game was tied at 28.
Elcock pounced on the loose ball on Needham’s following drive for the 35-28 advantage. Maimaron made a bid down the right sideline with less than three minutes remaining, but sophomore defensive back Will Macaluso intercepted a pass intended for Walsh.