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Better late than never: Wellesley relishes huge rivalry win over Needham

Wellesley's Carl Callahan (6) lifts the trophy as he and teammates celebrate their rivalry win over Needham.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

NEEDHAM — After Wellesley had blanked archrival Needham for a second consecutive win in the nation’s oldest public school rivalry, and after all the celebration, trophy-raising, and hugs with family members, Raiders senior captain Carl Callahan crouched just outside the end zone at Memorial Park, seeming to take it all in.

Callahan had just led a dominant defensive effort in Friday’s 34-0 victory with two of Wellesley’s seven sacks, a tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery. The win gives Wellesley a 64-60-9 lead in the historic Thanksgiving rivalry.

While the Raiders also received huge contributions from a sizable contingent of sophomores and juniors, this win had extra significance for members of the class of 2021, who were unable to play last Thanksgiving because of the coronavirus pandemic.


“The win means everything,” said Callahan, who will play lacrosse at Trinity.

Wellesley's Jakob Parker (9) tackles Needham's Thomas Fullbrook during Friday's game.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

“Yes it’s not Thanksgiving, but this one of the oldest rivalries in the country, and we’ve all grown up knowing siblings, friends, and cousins playing in this game. To get [the win] as a senior, it’s an amazing feeling. Now it’s time to celebrate for a little then it’s on to next week.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Wellesley (2-0) capitalized on great field position with sophomore Vincent Ferrara hitting senior Wedner Cadet for a 15-yard touchdown. A few minutes later, senior Josh Yen rushed for a 3-yard score to give the Raiders a 13-0 halftime lead.

Needham (1-1) managed just 51 scrimmage yards in the first half, and after Andrew Barnett caught a 19-yard pass to produce a first down midway through the third quarter, Will McDonald had a pass tipped and picked off by Anthony Perez for a 32-yard pick-6. That came moments after Perez caught a 33-yard bomb from Ferrara for a touchdown on fourth-and-28.

“We’re playing a lot of sophomores,” Wellesley coach Jesse Davis said. “I think our seniors did a really good job of bringing those guys into the mix.”


Along with Callahan, senior Anthony Messore, junior Tom Seifert, and sophomore Will Hutzler led a ferocious pass rush that produced seven sacks and kept the Rockets from finding their footing. By the time James Dolan ran for a 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter, the sizable crowd on the hill behind Memorial Park had thinned considerably.

“We just had a great connection,” Callahan said. “Our entire team was ready. We came out with energy and we were flying around.”

Wellesley's James Dolan (7) carries the ball during Friday's game against Needham, the oldest rivalry of public schools in the nation.Erin Clark/Globe Staff
Wellesley's Carl Callahan (6) and Wedner Cadet (4) were flying high as they celebrate a touchdown during their win over Needham.Erin Clark/Globe Staff