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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
In the wackiest of circumstances, the Wellesley High football team captured their first Bay State Conference Herget Division title since 1999 after a hard-fought 38-26 victory over Milton, a game which took two days to complete due to a lightning postponement.
The Raiders (8-0, 6-0) entered Friday night’s contest having not surrendered more than seven points in a single game throughout the season, but Wellesley quickly found themselves in a high-scoring dogfight with the Wildcats despite the monsoon-like environment present at kickoff with high winds and pouring rain.
Defensive end John Refojo (three tackles for loss) and the Raider defense stood strong to hold Milton to a field goal after Wellesley fumbled the opening kickoff.
Wellesley was forced to a three-and-out on the their next possession but the defense again stepped up to the challenge by strip sacking the Milton quarterback deep in Wildcat territory. The Raiders recovered the loose ball and quarterback Jack Tishman punched in a five-yard scramble on the second play of the ensuing drive to put his team ahead 7-3.
Milton responded with a quick six-play scoring drive to regain the lead at 9-7 (missed PAT).
Geo Reynaud’s 37-yard run set up Wellesley in the red zone on the next Raider possession, but an interception in the end zone by Milton on the final play of the first quarter put a halt to the drive.
A bad snap on Milton’s punt attempt gave the Raiders the ball back inside the Wildcat 10 yard line to start second quarter and Tishman again cashed in with a nine-yard scramble to give Wellesley back the lead at 14-9.
Milton put together a long clock killing touchdown drive to go back ahead 15-14 (missed PAT) and the Wildcats entered halftime up a point.
Lightning within the vicinity of the field during halftime caused the second half of the game to be postponed until the following day on Saturday.
A touchdown on Milton’s first possession of the second half on Saturday gave the Wildcats a 22-14 advantage, but Tishman and the Raider offense responded with an 18-yard hookup to Jason Maiona and a successful two-point try by Tishman to tie the game at 22.
The Wildcats scored on their first possession of the fourth quarter to go ahead 28-22 (missed PAT), but Wellesley again stormed right back with a long 75-yard drive capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by Scott Westerman. Brendan Dolan gave the Raiders back the lead at 29-28 with a successful PAT.
The Raider defense stood strong and preserved the lead for Wellesley on Milton’s next possession. Tishman again hooked up with Maiona on a 45-yard catch and run to the end zone late in the fourth (PAT good) to extend the Raider lead to eight at 36-28.
Wellesley’s defense forced a turnover on downs on Milton’s final possession of the game and the Raiders knelt to victory and their first division title since 1999. Wellesley will host Hingham (4-3) on Saturday at 1 pm in the first found of the Division 1A playoffs.
Head coach Jesse Davis praised his team for their accomplishment following the win, but also says that the Raiders have a lot of work ahead of them.
“It is really about this team and this group of guys,” said Davis. “We’ve got a big challenge now going into the playoffs and we’ve got to get ready for next week.”
Following the postseason showdown with Hingham on Saturday and however long the playoff run continues, the Raiders will return to action on Thanksgiving in their annual Turkey Day showdown with Needham.