WELLESLEY — In its 134th meeting against its traditional Thanksgiving rival, Wellesley was a huge favorite against Needham. But the Raiders needed to work overtime to secure a wild 34-28 win over the visiting Rockets.
Wellesley’s Carlos Giron made a huge pass breakup on fourth down of the Rockets’ possession in OT. One play later, Wellesley didn’t waste any time securing the victory when Louis Person tallied the second of his two touchdown runs, rumbling in from 10 yards out for the winning score.
“That’s Thanksgiving,” said Wellesley coach Jesse Davis, whose team wrapped up the season at 8-3. “Needham is unbelievably well-coached, they’re a tough football team, they were ready. They took it to us but we were able to make one more play.”
Before Giron’s big play, Wellesley believed it had made a stop on fourth down, but Needham got a reprieve when a Wellesley player’s helmet came off, resulting in a flag. But after they conferred, officials called offsetting penalties.
Giron came up with his big defensive play, setting the stage for Person’s 10-yard TD run that set off a wild celebration.
“Coaches just kept us going through it and told us to play hard,” Giron said. “Last play, he ran that out and I was just sitting waiting for it.”
“I had 20 family members come out today, first time ever,” said Person, who also had a 2-yard TD run to help Wellesley take a 14-7 lead after the first quarter. “It was just a great experience overall.”
Sam Gear also scored on a 25-yard pick-6 TD for the Raiders in the first quarter. Ryan Hannigan accounted for Needham’s only score in that frame on a 55-yard touchdown catch from Jay Kastantin.
Wellesley pushed the lead to 21-7 on Jacob Parker’s 19-yard touchdown run. With one second left in the half, Needham pulled within 21-14 on Kastantin’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Hannigan.
Needham tied it, 21-21, at the start of the third quarter on Adrian Rufo’s 2-yard run that capped a six-minute drive. Three plays later, Gear made a brilliant one-handed catch for a 55-yard touchdown, giving Wellesley a 28-21 lead.
Needham tied it again, this time at 28-all, on Rufo’s 5-yard TD run with 6:17 remaining.