STONEHAM — Trailing its unbeaten rival by 14 points with 4:04 to go, Reading could have decided to call it quits, go home and eat some turkey.
Instead, the Rockets (8-3) rallied to score two touchdowns to tie the game, before senior quarterback Matt Sannella rushed for the game-winner in overtime, to hand Stoneham (11-1) a 28-26 loss in the 84th edition of the schools’ Thanksgiving Day rivalry.
“We have that sign in our room that says don’t quit, and we tell the kids only tap it if you mean it,” Reading coach John Fiore said. “We’re really proud of our seniors and our whole program today.”
The Spartans, who are headed to the Division 6 Super Bowl on Dec. 1, made it a 20-6 game when Christos Argyropoulos broke off a 65-yard touchdown run with 4:04 remaining.
Reading then drove the length of the field, capped off by an 18-yard strike from Sannella to Javon Nortelus with 3:27 to go. Sannella rushed for two points to make it 20-14.
The Rockets got the ball back with 2:55 left and no timeouts at their own 25, and Sannella (10-of-18, 154 yards) promptly completed five straight passes to bring them to the Stoneham 18.
On the next play, Sannella fumbled the snap, but picked the ball up and stayed focused, finding Colin DuRoss open in the end zone to tie the game with 1:06 remaining.
“I stayed confident in the pocket and trusted my O-Line,” said Sannella. “The play is never over until they blow the whistle. Credit to DuRoss, he never gave up on the play and worked to get open.”
In overtime, Reading struck first, turning to Sannella again for a 5-yard touchdown rush, before he tacked on the two-point conversion to make it 28-20.
“Never quit, we have that sign up in our locker room,” said Sannella. “We said it at halftime, this is how the 2018 Rockets want to be remembered.”
Stoneham answered with a 10-yard run by Seth Russell, but Argyropoulos got stuffed at the goal line on the two-point try to give Reading the win.
Stoneham opened the scoring 3:55 into the game with a 35-yard rush by Argyropoulos.
Reading tied it in the second quarter on a 2-yard run by Jymel Nortelus, before Stoneham went back on top with a 2-yard Russell touchdown before halftime.