Brooks rallies Wellesley
WELLESLEY - The 122d renewal of the Wellesley-Needham rivalry will be remembered by the Raiders for a long time to come.
Wellesley trailed, 27-20, with five minutes left, but Raiders quarterback Brendan Brooks led his team on a winning drive, delivering an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Fine with 1:30 left and then finding Michael Janey with a 2-point conversion pass to seal a 28-27 win for the Bay State Carey champions.
Wellesley (9-2) leads the Thanksgiving series, 59-54-9.
Despite the loss, Needham’s season isn’t over. The Rockets (7-4), who began the season 7-0 but have lost four straight, will face Bridgewater-Raynham in a Division 1A playoff game Tuesday. Both Weymouth and Framingham lost yesterday, guaranteeing a Needham berth.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Raiders took advantage of a failed fourth-and-inches play by Needham at the Rockets 49 to get on the board. Brooks threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Sam Lawrence just nine seconds into the second period to give Wellesley a 7-0 lead.
Four minutes later, after throwing back-to-back errant passes, Needham quarterback Kevin Brennan connected with Kevin Cray in the end zone for the tying score from the Wellesley 33.
Wellesley had two opportunities to jump ahead before the half, but turned the ball over on downs both times in Needham territory.
Wellesley coach Bill Tracey used halftime to give his athletes a mental boost.
“We really didn’t make a lot of changes,’’ Tracey said. “You know, I think Needham played very well in the first half. One of the big things we had to talk about was finishing plays off. We expressed our confidence in their ability and I think our kids came out just right in the second half.’’
The Rockets were stymied on the first drive of the second half, and a Cray punt set up the Raiders’ second score from midfield.
Janey capped an eight-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown to put Wellesley ahead, 13-7Needham answered on the ensuing possession with a 90-yard touchdown drive as Ian Riley’s 22-yard jaunt up the right sideline tied the score with three minutes left in the third.
But the Raiders answered right back as Janey scored on a 4-yard carry just five seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 20-13. point.
How did Needham respond? Cray took the kickoff back 90 yards to counter the Wellesley punch, and the game was tied again.
The momentum was on Needham’s side, and Cray gave the Rockets their first lead, hauling in a 47-yard touchdown pass from Brennan with five minutes left. Cray’s PAT made it 27-20, but that only set the stage for heartbreak.
Brooks didn’t know if the clock was on his side.
“Five minutes is a lot of time, but I wasn’t sure if we could do it,’’ Brooks said. “But to go down there and [score] it like that - there’s no better way to sum up the season we had.’’