Senior Alex Daversa-Russo's interception late in the fourth quarter, on a third down pass ices the game for Wesleyan University Football, in a 15-10 defensive battle against Hamilton College in Clinton, NY on Saturday Oct. 3.
Head Coach Dan DiCenzo explained, "it was a route we knew they were going to run, and Alex was in the right spot. He was positioned where he was supposed to be and made a great catch and run."
After the late take-away, the Cardinals were able to run out the clock to earn their first win of the season, and even up their record at 1-1 (also 1-1 in the NESCAC). The loss drops the Continentals to 0-2, and 0-2 in conference play.
Junior Devon Carrillo capped the scoring on the day with a 19-yard touchdown run with 3:19 to play, giving the Cardinals the 15-10 lead they would not relinquish. He broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage before carrying a defender the final five yards for the score. Carrillo finished with a pair of touchdowns, and a game-high 63 yards on 11 carries.
The two teams went scoreless in an opening quarter where both defensives quelled any offensive production by forcing four combined punts. It was a 43-yard field goal by Hamilton's kicker Eric Fryer at 14:47 in the second quarter that broke the scoreless tie and gave the home team a 3-0 advantage. Wesleyan then responded by marching down the field on a 17 play-73 yard drive that ate up six minutes to tie the score at 3, on a 28-yard field goal by senior Ike Fuchs.
The teams were tied 3-3 at halftime, but the Cardinals forced a quick three and out on the first possession of the third quarter that led to a 10-play, 63-yard drive covering 4:31. Carrillo finished the drive by trucking his way into the end zone over right tackle on third-and-goal from the 1 with 8:21 left. The extra-point attempt was blocked, but Wesleyan held a 9-3 lead.
Hamilton responded five minutes later at 3:31 when their quarterback Chase Rosenberg lofted a pass to the middle of the field that Nick Caso caught as he fell out of the back of the end zone. Fyrer added the extra point to give the Continentals a 10-9 advantage with 3:31 to go in the third quarter.
But after an excellent punt by Fuchs pinned the Continentals deep in their own territory, the Cardinals defense held, and forced their sixth three and out of the game. Carrillo then returned the Hamilton punt 25 yards to the Continental 26 yard-line. And after two rushes by sophomore running back Jaylen Berry, Carrillo took the snap on third-and-3 and ran straight up the middle on a quarterback draw for the deciding touchdown.
Gernald Hawkins passed for 157 yards and ran for 37 more for the Cardinals, while freshman QB Mark Piccirillo was 3-of-3 passing for 53 yards. Sophomore Mike Breuler led Wesleyan with five catches for 57 yards.
The Cardinals' defense was the story, and only allowed eight first downs and 164 yards on 54 Hamilton offensive plays. Seniors Jon Spivey and Daversa-Russo were each credited with seven tackles and Spivey added a sack. Sophomore Shayne Kaminski finished with five stops, including a sack of his own.
The Cardinals now lead the all-time series 27-17-1, and have taken four of the last five meetings.
Wesleyan will host Colby College in conference action next Saturday Oct. 10, while Hamilton travels to Trinity College for another NESCAC game on that same day.