Wakefield’s Zullo scores both touchdowns, recovers game-ending fumble


CHRISTOPHER ZULLO, of Wakefield, led Northeast Metro Tech to a 16-14 victory over Essex Tech in the final Thanksgiving matchup between the two schools. Zullo had 89 rushing yards, 51 receiving yards, scored both Northeast touchdowns and recovered a fumble to seal the game. (Courtesy Photo)

WAKEFIELD — In their final Thanksgiving football matchup against each other, the Northeast Metro Tech football team edged visiting Essex Tech, 16-14, on a sunny, brisk day.

With the victory, Northeast leads the overall series 14-7 and they finished 10-3 against the Hawks on Thanksgiving.

Next year, Essex Tech, who moved to the Cape Ann League in September, will start playing Manchester-Essex on Thanksgiving while the Knights are searching for a new Turkey Day opponent.

“This was extra special,” admitted Knights head coach Don Heres, who is also the school’s athletic director. “I will be looking at that trophy for a while.”

Northeast ended the year at 5-6 overall while the Hawks finished at 2-9.

After getting the ball turned over on downs on the game’s first drive, the Knights scored on their opening possession. 

Quarterback Jackson Osoro (3-for-4 passing for 80 yards and a touchdown) hit running back Christopher Zullo (89 yards rushing, 140 total yards, 2 TD’s) with a pass and he ran down the left sideline for a 51-yard touchdown. Zullo, who is from Wakefield, then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with 4:34 left in the first quarter.

That drive went 65-yards and lasted six plays.

The rest of the opening half featured three turnovers.

Knight Dylan Hovermal recovered a Hawk fumble that gave the Knights the ball on the Hawks’ 32 on Essex Tech’s next possession.

However, Northeast turned the ball over a couple of plays later as a fumble was recovered by Brodie Callahan on the Hawk 22-yard line to end a threat.

The next Northeast threat came late in the second quarter, but a halfback option pass by Jack O’Connell was picked off by Callahan at the Hawk 25-yard line just before halftime.

The Knights fumbled the kickoff to start the third quarter and the Hawks Xavier Parsons recovered it at the Knight 41-yard line.

On a 4th-and-18 play, Hawk quarterback Jacoby Casinelli-Tarasuik (6-14 passing for 82 yards, touchdown and interception) hit Nick Branciforte with a 37-yard touchdown pass down the middle. Casinelli-Tarasuik then ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8 with 6:10 remaining in the third quarter.

The Knights responded on their ensuing possession as they drove 65-yards, all on the ground, to regain the lead.

Zullo capped off the drive with a 1-yard run on 4th-and-goal going to the right side on a pitch-out. Devin Nieves then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 16-8 with 11:03 left in the game. Osoro, who also plays defensive back, then picked off Casinelli-Tarasuik on the Hawks’ next possession but the Northeast offense turned the ball over on downs at the Hawks 37-yard line.

Essex Tech then drove 63-yards as Casinelli-Tarasuik scored on a 14-yard touchdown run to the right side.

However, the Knights defense stopped the two-point conversion run attempt to still lead, 16-14, with 3:10 left in the game.

The Hawks then forced a punt and they set up shop at their 28-yard line with a chance to win as they marched into Knight territory.

Northeast’s defense then made the play of the game as Mateus Pereira stripped Casinelli-Tarasuik and Zullo recovered it at the Knight 30-yard line with just over a minute left.

The Knights then ran out the clock as the Hawks were out of timeouts.

“That was a clutch play,” said Heres. “We stood up when we had to.”

Northeast won despite the three turnovers and eight penalties including a couple of personal fouls.

“We have a very young team with only seven seniors and we showed a lack of discipline,” admitted Heres. “But we never quit.”

The Hawks had three turnovers as well but only had three penalties.

In the end, Heres had praise for his senior class.

“We had only seven seniors but their leadership is going to show for the next three years,” he said.

Four of the Knights players are from Wakefield.

Along with Zullo, the three other Knights from town are the Hudd brothers (Tommy, and Patrick) and Ryan Beede.

Beede is a freshman starter who plays tight end and safety. Tom Hudd is a senior defensive lineman and tight end while Patrick, a junior, is a fullback and linebacker.