MANSFIELD — Mansfield was cruising, its sights set on a spot in the Division 2 South final. Hornets coach Mike Redding was even contemplating putting in his second stringers with his team leading Needham, 35-7, with just over two minutes to go in the third quarter.
In just five minutes, though, the Rockets were within a touchdown. Three straight scores — starting with a 91-yard kickoff return from Mike Panepinto — had host Mansfield on its heels.
But with the Rockets (7-2) charging for the tying score with 6:42 remaining in the game, senior defensive back Mike Barresi stripped Panepinto and recovered the fumble. One play later, the Hornets were in the end zone and they held on for a 42-35 win in a Division 2 South semifinal. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.