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Wakefield went on a fourth-quarter run to beat Melrose and stay undefeated heading into the Division 3 Super Bowl

Wakefield's Declan O'Callahan (left) pursued Melrose's Josh Madden as the Wakefield defense dominated the second half.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

MELROSE –– In the first half, a disjointed Wakefield offense struggled to move the ball while Melrose executed long drives, bookended by short rushing touchdowns.

Everything changed after halftime.

Wakefield’s defense allowed just one first down in the second half and senior captains Nathan Delgado and Javin Willis rushed for fourth-quarter touchdowns, propelling Wakefield to a 15-12 Middlesex League Freedom Division win over Melrose in the 112th installment of their rivalry.

Just nine days before taking on Milton in the Division 3 Super Bowl, Wakefield (12-0) earned a Thanksgiving victory for the second consecutive year after losing 11 in a row.


“It’s a historic rivalry; we always want to come out and beat Melrose,” said Delgado. “We got them last year and got them this year. It’s awesome to win as an upperclassman.”

A commitment to running the ball in the second half paid off, as the Warriors churned out tough yards and consistently moved the chains.

“You’re faced with certain situations and you adjust,” said Wakefield coach John Rafferty. “Whatever’s going to get the job done — throwing the ball, running the ball, whatever the case may be. At the end there, very little time left, so if you can run the ball, baby, run the ball.”

Delgado (23 carries for 116 yards) capped a 12-play drive, punching in a 4-yard touchdown with 8:22 to play. On the ensuing possession, a sack by senior linebacker Max Cusack forced a Melrose punt, giving the Warriors the ball back.

The Warriors drove 60 yards before Willis dove in for a 2-yard score, putting them on top with just 24 seconds remaining. Willis recorded an interception as time expired to put a bow on the victory.

“It’s my senior year,” said Willis. “I knew the whole game, ‘I can’t go out like this.’


“We just came back in the second half, fought as hard as we could, and took it.”

Melrose senior Josh Madden is tackled from behind by Wakefield senior Nathan Delgado.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Cam Kerry can be reached at cam.kerry@globe.com.