By Max Clifford
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
Saturday was a day of firsts for the 2022 Walpole High football team: their first road game, their first Saturday afternoon game, and their first time playing from behind.
Despite these unfamiliar circumstances, the Timberwolves held on for a dramatic 27-23 victory.
Walpole and Wellesley traded defensive stops in the first quarter until a pass from Walpole quarterback Corey Kilroy found the arms of wide receiver Jamal Abdal-Khalaq in the corner of the end zone to put the Timberwolves up, 6-0.
Early in the second quarter, Wellesley quarterback Vincent Ferrara found running back Max Poirier for a score. The touchdown marked the first points surrendered by the Timberwolves in their young season, and the successful extra point signified the first time they trailed.
A Wellesley fumble on a would-be touchdown set up a Walpole drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass, again to Abdal-Khalaq. A two-point conversion gave Walpole the seven point lead.
A Poirier rushing touchdown tied the game with under 30 seconds to play in the half.
Out of half, Wellesley’s defense applied pressure as another stalled Walpole drive ended with a long snap over the head of the punter, which was downed for a safety. Off of the ensuing free kick, Ferrara used a big pass play to put his offense in position for a rushing touchdown of his own, pushing the Wellesley lead to 23-14.
With Walpole trailing by nine and in need of a touchdown, it was a familiar face in Abdal-Khalaq who hauled in another catch for a score, standing in the end zone holding up three fingers in celebration of his third receiving touchdown of the day.
The Walpole defense applied much-needed pressure in the fourth. On third down, it was defensive end Sean O’Brien who came up with a crucial sack to force Welleslly into a fourth-and-long situation.
Off of the ensuing punt, the Timberwolves’ offense took to the ground. With 1:13 to play in the game, Walpole running back Logan Keyes broke off a 20-yard touchdown to give Walpole its first lead of the half.
With his team trailing by four, Ferrara took to the air in search of a big gain, but instead found the waiting arms of linebacker Andrew Falzone, who sent the Timberwolves home happy with a game-sealing interception.
After the dramatic victory, Walpole head coach Chris Sullivan discussed his defense’s response to allowing points for the first time, saying: “They showed me no signs of getting down… [I’m] super proud of these guys. They never gave up.”
Walpole will prepare to face Milton, the team ranked a spot ahead of them in the latest Boston Globe rankings, in a road contest on Friday night.