By Max Clifford
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The Walpole High School varsity football team faced its toughest test of the year on Friday night as it traveled to Milton High School to face the team ranked one spot ahead of them in the Boston Globe’s top 20.
A second-half comeback attempt from the Timberwolves fell short as No. 17 Walpole fell to No. 16 Milton by a final score of 28-14.
A packed house of Walpole fans dressed in white and Milton fans dressed in all black were treated to a defensive battle in the first quarter. The highlight of the first frame for Walpole came when Andrew Falzone went airborne to intercept a Milton pass attempt.
Milton reached deep into the playbook to open the scoring as quarterback Owen McHugh found wide receiver Luke Sammon for a wide-open touchdown following a handoff and two laterals in the backfield. The game’s opening score sent the Wildcats into halftime with a 7-0 lead.
With under seven minutes to play in the third quarter, the Walpole punt unit took the field looking to pin the Wildcats deep. Instead, Milton’s Jack Finnegan found the sideline to break an 85-yard return touchdown to put his team up by two scores.
Trailing 14-0, the Walpole offense finally found its spark courtesy of a 30-yard reception by wide receiver Max Collins, which set up Jamal Abdal-Khalaq’s fourth touchdown reception in the last two games.
Following the Walpole score, McHugh found Finnegan deep for a 60-yard gain to set up Milton’s third touchdown of the day with just 12 seconds to play in the third.
With his team trailing 21-7, in need of a score, Walpole wide receiver Sean O’Brien used every inch of his 6’7” 225-pound frame to haul in a 35-yard touchdown grab, despite heavy interference from a Milton defensive back. The Walpole student section, which had camped out at the edge of the Milton end zone, erupted with excitement as O’Brien hauled in the pass just yards from where they stood.
On the ensuing Milton drive, an O’Brien sack on first down encouraged the Walpole faithful. Later in the drive, however, a tightly contested catch from a Milton receiver set up a McHugh rushing touchdown to push the lead back to two scores with under four minutes to play. 28-14 would hold as the final score.
“At the end of the day, it’s not what we wanted," said Walpole Head Coach Chris Sullivan, who expects his team to bounce back from their first loss of the season. "But we’re going to regroup and we’re going to get better.”
The Timberwolves return home to host Shrewsbury at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 7 at Walpole High School.