WEYMOUTH — Coach Kevin Mackin knew wide receiver Dave Harrison’s speed was a threat to Needham’s defense, so he opted to start him at quarterback to bring an option package, rather than start senior pocket-passer Jack Lehan.
“They’re so good on defense, and we really felt David [Harrison] gave us the best chance to run the football,” Mackin said. “Jack [Lehan] is a tremendous passing quarterback. To be fair to Jack, we’ve got a thoroughbred in [Harrison] and he made a lot of great reads.”
Harrison kept the Rockets’ defense off balance, and fired a 21-yard touchdown to a wide-open Tyler O’Brien with 20 seconds left in the game to lift Weymouth to a 32-27 victory over Needham Friday night.
Harrison finished 15 for 25 with 259 yards passing and four touchdowns, connecting three times with O’Brien, and rushed for just 20 yards on eight carries.
“[Needham] was doing a good job on the run stop, but they were leaving receivers open — especially Tyler,” Harrison said. “I was just finding him and he was just doing what he was supposed to do with the ball and scoring.”
For O’Brien, he was just concentrating on hauling in the game-winning pass as the rain came down steadily throughout the contest.
“I have no words to explain it,” O’Brien said, who finished with six catches for 123 yards. “I just looked up and it was right in my hands. The first thing that came to mind was not to drop it. The rain was terrible and my gloves were really wet.”
Just a possession earlier, it was Harrison who slipped up on his coverage, as Needham quarterback Ryan Charter hit Mike Elcock with a 51-yard strike to give the Rockets a 27-26 lead with 2:32 to play.
“I was supposed to be in zone, but it was in man so that was my fault,” Harrison said. “I felt it was my responsibility to get our team to victory.”
On the final drive, Harrison was 4 for 6 with 64 yards, as Weymouth drove 70 yards on nine plays. Harrison started the drive with three incompletions, but on his third attempt to Ozzy Colarusso, Needham was called for pass interference and Weymouth took over from the 40 with a fresh set of downs.
From there, Harrison was a perfect 4 for 4, throwing three times to Cory Folsom before connecting with O’Brien.
In the first half, Weymouth jumped to a 20-14 lead, sparked by Harrison’s touchdown passes to O’Brien and Colarusso, as well as a 33-yard run by Colarusso.
Needham back Mike Panepinto tore through Weymouth’s defense and scored twice to keep it close.
Panepinto, who finished with 223 yards on 26 carries, rushed for a 28-yard score to open the second half and give Needham a 21-20 lead.
But Weymouth countered, as Harrison hit O’Brien for his second touchdown of the night to give the Wildcats a 26-21 lead.
With the win, the Wildcats improved to 4-0 and are first in the Bay State Carey Division, ahead of Needham (3-1).