WALPOLE — When Walpole star running back Mike Rando sprained his ankle last week, the Rebels were reminded they weren’t a one-player team.
“Our [coaches] told us it wasn’t Team Rando,” running back Connor Moriarty said. “This is Walpole — the Walpole Rebels. And we really stuck to that.”
Moriarty didn’t take the message lightly, as he rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown to lead Walpole to a 31-0 victory over Needham Friday at Turco Field.
“My teammates didn’t put any pressure on me, and neither did the coaches,” Moriarty said. “I just played how I usually play and it happened to be a big game for me.”
No. 7 Walpole improved to 7-0, all Bay State wins, and sits atop the Herget. No. 11 Needham (5-2, 4-2) failed to do the same in the Carey.
While Walpole had little trouble dissecting the Rockets’ defense, Needham had a difficult time moving the ball against the Rebels.
Needham running back Mike Panepinto, who leads Division 1 with 16 touchdowns, was held to just 61 yards on 17 carries.
“Panepinto is a great player, as good a running back there is,” said Walpole coach Barry Greener. “But I think we slowed him down pretty well tonight.”
On Walpole’s first possession, quarterback Will Bolster (6 of 10, 84 yards) lobbed a pass to 6-foot-4-inch tight end Chris Collins, who outjumped a defender and hauled in the score.
“I used to play basketball, so I’m used to jumping that high and going after the ball,” Collins said.
Colton Mitchell later nailed a 27-yard field goal to put the Rebels up, 10-0, as rain dumped on the turf.
In the second quarter, Needham quarterback Ryan Charter injured his right (throwing) hand on a long run.
On the next play, Charter was intercepted by Brad Webber, and Cam Hanley ran for a 2-yard score soon after.
Charter didn’t return for the second half, and Needham coach Dave Duffy said he was uncertain about the extent of his quarterback’s injury.
On the second play of the third quarter, Webber intercepted Needham backup Matt McGloin, this time setting up a 9-yard run by Moriarty.
Walpole added one last score. Bolster floated another jump-ball to Collins, this one for a 14-yard touchdown.