Needham stuns Durfee on Senior Night in final minute of football action
FALL RIVER — It was a whistle not heard 'round B.M.C. Durfee High School.
That was one of several strange events that took place in the final minute of Needham's stunning 28-27 victory over Durfee in Friday night's non-playoff game on Senior Night.
One of the more bizarre plays you will see in high school football took place on a two-point conversion attempt with under a minute remaining.
With 49 seconds left in the contest and Durfee (1-8) ahead 27-20, Needham quarterback Jay Kastantin connected with senior captain Adrian Rufo for an 11-yard touchdown pass to get the Rockets within one at 27-26.
Going for the two-point conversion and the lead, Rufo was initially stopped by a host of Hilltopper defenders short of the goal line. But the play was not blown dead, and given a few extra seconds, Rufo lateraled the ball back to Kastantin, who raced into the end zone to give the visitors their winning margin.
"I thought we were going to lose and I had to try something," Rufo said. "My guy (Kastantin) was wide open and I had to throw back to him."
On the ensuing kickoff, Isaiyah Thomas threw a lateral pass across the field to Jevon Holley, who took it to the Needham 40. Four plays later, Holley's 19-yard run play got the ball to the Rockets 5 with a second remaining.
Durfee attempted a field goal try but the ball was partially deflected and sailed wide left as time expired.
"The kids battled tough all night," Hilltopper head coach Taylor Brown said. "We responded every single time. Came down to the end and put pressure on them. That play on the goal line, I thought we stopped them there. That was the game."
The loss was tough to swallow for the Hilltoppers seniors, who certainly left everything they had on the field to get the win.
"We worked so hard tonight," Durfee senior Brian Hayden said. "Just to lose on senior night, it was very tough."
A block in the back penalty negated a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown by Jaden Lewis.
There were a few highlight plays, including a 43-yard touchdown strike from Kastantin to Ryan Hanigan and a 20-yard sprint to the end zone by Thomas.
The teams combined for 43 points in the final 24 minutes.
Just when you thought you've seen it all in football, something tops it.
The mindset and play of Rufo proved to be the difference for Needham (2-8).
"We haven't caught a break all year," Brown said. "That's a good football team over there. Their record doesn't show what they really are. Every football game, we've been in every one except for two. We needed 28 points tonight."
HOW IT HAPPENED
The action was non-stop in the second half as both teams went into the locker room tied at 6-6.
The Rockets had a 19-play drive in the first quarter but could not convert on fourth down.
In the second quarter, Durfee got on the board first when Thomas scored from 12 yards out to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.
Needham responded on its next possession, ending with a one-yard run by Tate Hoffmeister
On the Hilltoppers' first possession in the second half, Incacio scored a 15-yard touchdown run. Moments later, Inacio was on the receiving end of a successful two-point pass from Thomas.
The Rockets tied the game at 14 when Kastantin hooked up with Hanigan for a 43-yard bomb. A Kastantin to Hanigan two-point play tied the game at 14.
Durfee regained the lead at 20-14 on a 20-yard scramble for a touchdown by Thomas but Needham put together another long drive, and Tate Gellar scored from four yards out to tie the game at 20-20.
Holley's touchdown from seven yards out put the Hilltoppers back in front, 27-20 with a little more than three minutes left.
That set the stage for the wild finish.
What did Brown tell his kids after the game?
"Whatever I tell them, it is not going to make them feel better. This is a game of football where you bust your butt for four quarters. That's all you can ask for from the kids. There is nothing I am going to say right now that will make them feel better. It should hurt because they put in a lot of time [during the offseason]."
Durfee had plenty of standouts on both offense and defense.
Thomas scored a pair of touchdowns. Holley rushed for a team-high 107 yards on nine carrries and a touchdown. Inacio had a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Defensively, Davon Moul had multiple tackles and two blocked kicks. Inacio, Miguelangel Mercado, Hayden and Lewis each had strong games.Hayden had a strip sack and a fumble recovery.
Needham 28, Durfee 27
Needham (2-8) 0 6 8 14 — 28
Durfee (1-8) 0 6 8 13 — 27
Durfee: Isaiyah Thomas 11 yard run (PAT kick missed)
Needham: Tate Hoffmeister 1 yard run (PAT kick blocked)
Durfee: Sabastian Inacio 16 yard run (Thomas 3-yard pass to Inacio)
Needham: Hanigan 43 yard pass from Kastantin (Kastantin 3-yard pass to Hannigan)
Durfee: Thomas 20 yard run (PAT kick missed)
Needham: Geller three-yard run (PAT kick blocked)
Durfee: Javon Holley 7 yard run (Inacio kick)
Needham: Rufo 11 yard pass from Kastantin (Kastantin run)
(Stats provide by Derek MIller)
Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette sports editor Steven Sanchez can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chezsports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Needham stuns Durfee football in final minute on Senior Night, 28-27