Football falls to Wesleyan 59–14 in homecoming game

James Dunn ’19 had one catch for six yards in the Ephs’ drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals on Saturday.  Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
James Dunn ’19 had one catch for six yards in the Ephs’ drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Football (0–7, 0–7 in the NESCAC) faced off against Wesleyan Saturday in the team’s homecoming game. The Ephs fell to the Cardinals 59–14.

All but three of the game’s points came in the first half, as Wesleyan came out with five consecutive touchdown drives on its first five possessions.

The first three all came in the first six minutes of the game; a Williams fumble on its own 18-yard line allowed Wesleyan to score two touchdowns within 15 seconds of each other.

Wesleyan, however, did not play flawless football and racked up 69 penalty yards in the first half, including a roughing the passer penalty that gave Williams the boost the men needed to answer Wesleyan’s back-to-back scores. Following a consistent rushing attack by Steve Bohling ’20 and a clutch third down pass to Adam Regensburg ’18, Jansen Durham ’20 lobbed a beautiful 16-yard pass over the shoulder of Kellen Hatheway ’19 in the endzone to put the Ephs on the board with 4:46 left in the first quarter.

This incipient comeback was quashed almost immediately, however. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Wesleyan’s Mark Piccirillo connected with Mike Breuler deep down the left sideline for a 50-yard touchdown pass.

The Ephs’ next drive stalled deep in Cardinal territory, and Regensburg’s 34-yard field goal attempt was wide left. Wesleyan then scored its fifth straight touchdown on a 12-yard scramble by Piccirillo to cap a five-play, 80-yard drive.

Wesleyan’s first punt of the game came halfway through the second quarter, as the Williams defense appeared to find a bit of its footing.

This success was immediately negated by a fumble by Bohling on the very first play of the ensuing Eph drive.

Two plays later, Cardinal receiver Devon Carrillo was in the end zone and the away team had a 42–7 lead.

Williams scored its second and final touchdown of the game on the next drive. A couple of first-down passes from Durham, first to Noah Sorrento ’19 and then to Regensburg, set the Ephs up on the Cardinals’ 16-yard line. Durham faked a play and the defense bit, giving Durham a hole to rush through on the right side and into the end zone.

The Cardinals, however, continued to run up the margin. Four consecutive connections between Piccirillo and Carrillo totaling 53 yards resulted in two first downs and then a Wesleyan touchdown. Yet another Williams fumble cut an offensive drive short and allowed Piccirillo to throw his fifth touchdown pass of the day, this time for 29 yards to Mike Breuler.

At the half, Wesleyan led the game at 56–14.

The second half of the game saw Wesleyan sub out most of their starters on both sides of the ball, but Williams still struggled to piece together a successful offensive drive, achieving only two first downs in the second half. Wesleyan tacked on a 38-yard field goal by Ike Fuchs with 10:33 left in regulation to wrap up the game’s scoring and put the Cardinals up by 45 for a final score of 59-14.

The disparity in score was not reflected on the stat line, however: Williams gained a respectable 329 yards of total offense and 19 total first downs. Durham went 17–28 for 191 yards while Bohling set a career mark with 85 yards rushing on 18 carries and Regensburg contributed 77 yards receiving on 10 catches. Ben Anthony ’20 led all tacklers with nine while Christian Dumont ’19 and Austin Thomas ’19 combined for the men’s only sack.

Wesleyan put up 508 yards of offense, but its incredible success in scoring was largely thanks to its ability to convert Williams turnovers into points. Of these points, 24 points resulted from Williams fumbles, two of which were recovered inside the men’s own 20-yard line, which led to easy scores.

Piccirillo played an outstanding game, completing 14 of his 19 passes for 288 yards and five touchdowns, while also leading the Cardinals in rushing yards with 66. Carrillo also contributed two touchdowns on the ground out of the wildcat formation. Mike Breuler led the Cardinal receiving corps, hauling in four catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns.

Following its shutout of Amherst two weeks ago, Wesleyan’s victory over Williams hands them this season’s Little Three title, their first since 2013 and just their second since 1970. The Cardinals hope to capture at least a share of the NESCAC title with a win against undefeated Trinity in the last weekend of the season. The Bantams head into the matchup coming off a come-from-behind victory against Amherst.

Next week, the Ephs will travel to face archrival Amherst at its homecoming, hoping to avoid their first winless season since joining Div. III in 1973. Amherst comes into the matchup with a record of 3–4 and has sustained a losing streak of three games following a strong 3–1 start, which included wins over Hamilton, Bowdoin and Colby.