October 13, 2023
• Needham Football got back on the winning track with a convincing win over Braintree
One week after losing for the first time in the 2023 campaign, the Needham Rockets Varsity Football team responded in a big way, beating the Braintree Wamps 42-21 on a chilly Senior Night atop Memorial Field. The victory improves the Rockets, ranked #1 in the MIAA Division 1 State Rankings, to 5-1 on the season.
But it also showcased what the team is capable of on offense, as the Rockets finished with 364 total yards, 174 through the air by Quarterback Griffin Carr. The Junior completed 8 of his 10 pass attempts, throwing two touchdowns. Senior Captain Tate Hoffmeister also continued his stellar season, rushing 19 times for 142 yards, scoring three times, giving him nine overall this fall. Needham finished the game with 190 yards on the ground.
Hoffmeister got the Rockets started on the opening kickoff, returning it to the Braintree 38 yard line. Carr then completed a 30 yard pass to Senior Wide Receiver Jase Hannigan, giving Needham a first and goal from the 9. Junior Aidan Williams then ran the ball into the end zone from nine yards out. Senior Dante Varano added the first of his six extra points, to give Needham a 7-0 lead just three and a half minutes in.
The Wamps responded by marching down the field and tying the game with 5:25 left in the first quarter, but that would be their only score of the first half. Needham broke the 7-7 tie right at the beginning of the second quarter, as Hoffmeister ran in his first TD of the game and the Rockets took a 14-7 advantage.
Defense has been a cornerstone of Needham’s season, having held Division 3 top seed Milton to just 10 points a week prior. Despite falling short at the Wildcats, in a 10-9 defeat, the Rockets still elevated to the top spot in the MIAA D1 rankings thanks to their strength of schedule, the toughest in all of Division 1. With the 14-7 lead, the Needham D limited Braintree, got the ball back for their offense, and Coach Doug Kopcso’s team immediately went for it all, as Carr completed a 51 yard TD pass to Junior Ben Schreiber.
But the scoring wasn’t finished, as on their next drive, Carr found Senior Spencer Chapman for 39 yards to the 4, then Hoffmeister took it in for his second TD run of the game. The Rockets finished the half with a 19 yard TD from Carr to Hannigan, to take a 35-7 lead going to the break.
Carr’s 174 yards and three touchdowns were all in that first half, while 123 of their 190 rushing yards came in the first 24 minutes. Hoffmeister had 80 yards on 14 carries, with Williams adding 30.Schreiber led the team in receiving yards, with 66 on two receptions, while Hannigan added 53 on three catches and Chapman had two grabs for 48 yards, again, all of that in the first half.
The two teams agreed to have a running clock for entire second half, with Braintree’s opening drive taking up the majority of the third quarter, and scoring with 3:59 to go. Needham blocked the extra point, so the Rockets lead was 35-13 after three.
Hoffmeister added a 40 yard run, as well as another 4 yard TD, his third and final of the game, at the start of the 4th quarter. The Wamps would add one more TD as well as a two point conversion, but that would be it as Needham sealed the win and improved their home record to 4-0 in 2023.
Up next for Needham, a trip to Weymouth next Friday night, October 20th at 7pm. The Wildcats are also 5-1 this season, beating Braintree 28-14 last week and Framingham 26-15 this week. Their only loss of the season, like Needham, was at Milton, 31-7 back on September 29th.
Check out the full highlight reel by Needham Channel Sports Producer Kristen Connors here:
Also, if you missed it last week, here are Kristen’s highlights from the October 6th game at Milton, where the Rockets came oh so close to pulling off the upset: