NEEDHAM, Mass. — After taking a multi-year break due to COVID-19, the Walker Turkey Bowl made a chilly, triumphant return Wednesday afternoon.
The Turkey Bowl gives children enrolled in Walker’s therapeutic, residential and educational programs an opportunity to kick off the holiday season in competitive style. Kids from various backgrounds gather for a spirited football game held at Walker’s Needham campus, with Walker’s dedicated staff providing snacks, refreshments and support throughout.
Volunteers from NESN Connects, NESN’s community outreach program, also were in attendance Wednesday to lend a helping hand, doing everything from creating signs to cheering on the players to grabbing microphones and announcing the game. And all involved braved some frigid, blustery weather, with game-time temperatures in the 40s and wind chills making it feel even colder at Walker.
As for the game, it was a true nail-biter.
The green team got off to an early 14-0 lead thanks to contributions from all three phases. Receivers made some big catches, special teams delivered a pair of long kick returns and the secondary stifled the blue team’s passing game. After the blue team scored to make it a 14-7 game, the green team responded with a touchdown of its own to reclaim a two-score advantage in the Turkey Bowl.
That’s when things got interesting.
The blue team, fueled by multiple mid-game trades with the green team, scored 14 unanswered points, including a touchdown as time expired in regulation. That set the stage for sudden-death overtime, in which the green team received the ball first. And, a couple of plays into the drive, the green team delivered a long touchdown reception to secure a dramatic win. The green team’s players flocked to the end zone to celebrate as one after a hard-fought victory.
Here’s hoping that the 2023 Walker Turkey Bowl is as memorable as this year’s.