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Weymouth comeback stuns Rockets

Quarterback Jay Kastantin (5) cocks and gets set to fire a ball down the field. Photos by Mike Flanagan.

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Despite playing in front of a rowdy Weymouth homecoming crowd, Needham High football got out to an almost perfect start on Friday evening.

After forcing the Wildcats (3-1, 3-0) to punt on the game's opening possession, senior quarterback Jay Kastantin led the Rockets (1-3, 1-2) on a 13-play drive, which chewed up 9:08 of clock. The drive included three successful conversions on fourth down by Kastantin, the final of which was a three-yard touchdown strike to John Ogletree to draw first blood for Needham. Sophomore running back Tate Hoffmeister punched home a successful two-point conversion to give Needham an 8-0 lead with 10:20 to play in the half.

Following another Weymouth punt, Kastantin again led a scoring drive, this time hitting senior wide-out Ryan Hannigan on a 30-yard post pattern to make it a 14-0 game (two-point try no-good) with 5:43 to play in the quarter.

A third punt in a row by Weymouth gave Needham the opportunity to go for the kill midway through the quarter. However, Needham aggressively went for it on fourth down from their own 37-yard-line and were unable to convert after a pass over the middle intended for Hannigan was batted away.

Weymouth took over in plus territory and made the most out of the opportunity. Quarterback Aidan Kennedy led the Wildcats down to the one-yard-line, followed by a one-yard plunge by Anthony Smith on fourth-and-goal to make it 14-7 with 1:08 remaining in the half. Needham took their seven-point lead into halftime.

The second half saw a completely different Weymouth team. Needham's offense was stopped on fourth down to open the half. Kennedy then hooked up with his brother, Ryan, for multiple completions down inside the Needham 20-yard-line before capping the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Cam Fernandez to tie the game at 14 with 7:25 to play in the third.

Following a Needham punt, Kennedy again led Weymouth back down the field, this time capping off the drive with a three-yard pitch-pass to Fernandez on a fake end-around to give the Wildcats their first lead of the night at 21-14. Weymouth took their seven-point lead into the fourth.

Following a Needham punt and Weymouth's offense attempting to chew clock midway through the fourth, junior linebacker Tyler Closuit made the play of the night for the Rockets defense. Closuit jumped a five-yard drag route, intercepted Kennedy's pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, seemingly putting the Rockets within an extra point of tying the game. However, during the run-back, Needham was flagged for a block in the back. Still, Needham's offense was set up in prime field position in search of the tying score.

Following back-to-back negative plays and an incompletion, the Rockets were forced to go for it on fourth-and-13 from the Weymouth 42-yard-line. Kastantin's pass fell incomplete and the Rockets turned the ball over on downs. Weymouth chewed up clock on their ensuing series and iced the game with a 26-yard field goal by Mike Ritz to go up two possessions with 1:49 to play. Weymouth prevailed by the 24-14 final.

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.

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