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Violence mars Thanksgiving Day classic

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By Maddie Gerber
Hometown Weekly Intern

The Needham-Wellesley football rivalry is notorious for being the oldest in the country, and a much-anticipated tradition for both communities. However, the 132nd game ended with both teams throwing fists rather than throwing passes in a massive, bench-clearing brawl. As a result, the referees called the game early, with less than three minutes remaining, giving Wellesley a 27-0 shutout over the Rockets.

Wellesley started out strong, with senior Matt Segal’s 17-yard touchdown run giving the Raiders a 7-0 lead barely three minutes in. As the quarter progressed, Wellesley’s tough defensive line prevented Needham from gaining any significant yardage, and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Wellesley senior quarterback Matt Maiona (3 touchdown passes) to junior Anthony Perez made it a 14-0 game by the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started with a series of punts and interceptions by both teams, with neither team able to make any significant progress. However, about five minutes into the quarter, a punt return by Wellelsley’s Wedner Cadet led to another Raider touchdown, but the extra point was no good, leaving the score at 20-0. Throughout the rest of the quarter, stout Wellesley defense prevented the Rockets from making any progress. The quarter ended with the Raiders leading, 20-0.

Wellesley defense continued to prove its dominance in the second half, pushing Needham quarterback Will McDonald out of bounds in an early play and forcing the Rockets to punt. After strong defensive efforts by Needham senior Tim Morely, Wellesley punted back to the Rockets, who were unable to gain any yardage and ended up punting back to the Raiders after a series of unsuccessful plays. With less than three minutes left in the quarter, a run by Wellesley senior Matt Segal took the ball deep into Needham’s half, where the Raiders were able to score another touchdown, this time caught by senior Teddy Komjathy from Maiona, making the score 27-0.

The fourth quarter was wrought with tension and penalties on both teams, preventing either from making any motion down the field. The tension finally came to a head with less than three minutes remaining, as a small skirmish between the Rockets and Raiders escalated into a major altercation, forcing the police to intervene. After seeing that both teams were unlikely to calm down, the referees called the game, with Wellesley taking a decisive victory over Needham, 27-0.

Although Needham undoubtedly had a tough game, and an unfortunate end to their 2-9 season, the team was still in good spirits. “We always played our hardest, with maximum effort and a lot of emotion,” said junior tight end Andrew Barnett. “A lot of games didn’t end the way we wanted to, but we stuck together as a family and in the end, that’s really what matters.”

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