Despite a strong start, the Mansfield High football tam lost to Needham High School, 21-14, Friday at home.
The Hornets, despite some amazing plays both on defense and offense, shot themselves in the foot with penalties.
“Those kill you,” Mansfield head coach Michael Redding said. “You kind of gave away yards to a really good offensive team.”
Needham played keep away with Mansfield, keeping possessions for as long as they could.
Mansfield’s Kyle Wisnieski threw a fourth down touchdown pass to Michael Hershman seven minutes into the first quarter for a 7-0.
Needham held on to the ball going into the second quarter.
The Rockets' Michael Panepinto ran in for a touchdown with 1:55 left in the half.
Mansfield’s Rob Rapoza scored on an amazing 64-yard run to tie the game again in the third period.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, Michael Panepinto scored again in the last quarter with a 20-yard run to the end zone.
Mansfield couldn’t capitalize on the next two possessions, and Needham slowly drained the clock when they got the ball.
Mansfield made one last attempt to throw the game into overtime, but was unable to get any significant running or passes against the Needham defense.
“You still have a chance with 30 seconds left to get into overtime,” Redding said. “We lost to a really good team. Tonight was great competition. We played them toe-to-toe with a bunch of young kids who will get better every week.”
Wisnieski was sacked three times by the Needham defense, which helped to slow down the Hornet offense.
Needham head coach Dave Duffy praised quarterback Ryan Charter's play against a strong Mansfield defense. His only flaw on the night was an interception, picked off by Mansfield’s Michael Hershman.
“He did a great job,” he said. “He had one bad pass and he got his yards.”
Duffy said that both Nico and Michael Panepinto had great running games against a team, he praised in the postgame.
“The passing game was good, the running game was good,” he said. “They're a good team, so anything we could get was a bonus. It worked out great, we’re all very excited because Mansfield’s a measuring stick for everyone in the state.”