Turkey Day Triumph!!

November 23, 2023
• The Rockets beat the Raiders on Thanksgiving day for the first time since 2018.

The 2023 season has been stellar for Needham Football and on Thanksgiving Day, they capped it off by beating their rivals, the Wellesley Raiders, 21-7 at Hunnewell Field in Wellesley on the 136th playing of the rivalry that dates back to 1882. Senior Running Back Tate Hoffmeister finished his high school career with an all-time Turkey Day performance, finishing with 30 carries for 236 yards and all three Needham touchdowns.

The Rockets were coming off a tough loss to Xaverian less then a week earlier, 20-17 in the State Semis, but in defeating Wellesley for the first time since 2018 (a 14-13 home win at Memorial Field on the coldest Thanksgiving on record), Needham closed out a terrific season at 10-2.

The Raiders had a chance to put the first points on the board in the first quarter, but a 29 yard field goal attempt was blocked. Needham would get a big lift from that play, marching down the field all on the ground as Hoffmeister and Junior Aidan Williams carried the ball for some big gains (including runs of 25 and 20 for Hoffmeister), capped off by Needham’s first touchdown of Turkey Day, a five yarder by Hoffmeister with 38 seconds left in the first quarter.

Although Wellesley had a chance in the second quarter, the Rockets denied them on a 4th down at the one yard line. Needham took a 7-0 lead to halftime, with Hoffmeister having carried the ball 14 times for 95 yards. Max Poirier was 11 for 48 for the Raiders.

Needham extended their lead on their first drive of the third, on an eight yard TD run by Hoffmeister. He also had a 38 yard run to set Needham up deep in Wellesley territory. But a two point conversion attempt failed, so the Rockets lead was 13-0 with 5:48 left in the third quarter.

Despite the deficit, Wellesley was undeterred, driving down the field and scoring for the first time on a 23 yard TD pass from Bobby Shanahan to Robby Broggi. Needham answered with a huge kickoff return by Senior Jase Hannigan, who set up the Rockets at the Raiders 16 yard line. Needham couldn’t take advantage though, so they went to the final 12 minutes up 13-7.

Hoffmeister would cross over the 200 yard mark for the game early in the 4th quarter, on a 55 yard run that he nearly broke for a touchdown. So he had to settle for another eight yard TD run for his third TD. Griffin Carr also connected with Ben Schreiber for a two point conversion, giving Needham its 21-7 lead they would take to the end.

The Rockets finished with 314 total rushing yards, with Williams adding 13 carries for 68 yards. With 43 passing yards, Needham had 357 total yards, to Wellesley’s 223 (78 rushing, 145 passing). The Raiders lead the overall series 66-61, with 9 ties.

You can watch our full broadcast over the air on The Needham Channel and streaming at needhamchannel.org (and on our TNC Roku App) Thanksgiving Night at 7pm, as well as throughout the next week. TNC Programming Manager Mike Levin will have highlights from the game on our next edition of the Needham Channel News, but until then, here are some of the raw highlights, from our Needham Channel Instagram feed:


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