The Wesleyan University football team forced three turnovers and held Williams College to seven points in a 27-7 Homecoming victory on Sat. November 7th, at Corwin Stadium. The victory is Wesleyan's third in a row and improves their record to 5-2, while the Ephs fall to 2-5.
Freshman quarterback Mark Piccirillo finished 11-for-14 with 105 passing yards and a touchdown pass. He also rushed for 19 yards on five attempts. Sophomore running back Jaylen Berry led the way on the ground for Wesleyan with 70 yards on 11 rushes and a touchdown.
The two teams played a scoreless first quarter with both offenses struggling to stay on the field. Wesleyan punted three times in the quarter, and forced Williams to punt on their first three drives of the game.
After the Cardinals forced a punt to open the second quarter, they started a nine-play 62-yard drive that was finished on a Piccirillo 21-yard TD pass to Eric Meyreles with 6:42 remaining in the half. Piccirillo connected with Dan Laorenza for a 10-yard gain on 2nd-and-8 from the Cardinals 40-yard line to get Wesleyan to midfield. Berry then rushed twice for 14 yards to get the ball into Williams territory. Piccirillo then hit Berry on an eight-yard completion before the freshman QB hit Meyerles for the score. Senior Ike Fuchs knocked in the extra point to give the home team a 7-0 lead.
Following the score, the Cardinals forced another punt and marched down the field once again on an eight-play 62-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown run by junior Lou Stevens. Sophomore QB Gernald Hawkins and Piccirillo both completed passes during the drive to move the Red & Black down the field. Hawkins, who finished 6-for-12 with 61 passing yards and added 51 rushing yards on the day, connected with Mike Brueler on a nine-yard pass to open the drive at the Wesleyan 38. He then hit Meyreles on a five-yard pass before Piccirillo was inserted.
Piccirillo then completed a 21-yard pass to Laorenza to advance Wesleyan to Williams' 26-yard line. After a penalty moved the ball to the Williams five-yard line, Stevens punched it in to give Wesleyan a 14-0 lead with 1:12 remaining in the first half.
To open the second half, with the score 14-0 in favor of the home team, junior defensive back Justin Sanchez intercepted Williams' QB Austin Lommen at the Williams' 47 on a 3rd-and-6 attempt. Wesleyan squandered the opportunity and was forced to punt after a quick three-and-out in just 50 seconds.
After the defensive stand, the Ephs ran two rushing plays to set up a 3rd-and-2, but Wesleyan's defense stood tall and forced another punt. The Cardinals used the momentum and went on a five-play, 44-yard drive that ended in a four-yard rushing TD by Hawkins. Fuchs' missed the extra point attempt and the Cardinals held a 20-0 lead with 8:52 to play in the 3rd quarter.
Williams looked like they were going to cut into the lead when running back Noah Sorrento broke through the line at midfield and was racing free to the goal line, but Sanchez chased him down and leapt from behind to knock the ball loose at the four-yard line. Cuzner recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback.
Wesleyan added their final score on a one-yard touchdown run by Berry, completing an eight-play, 29-yard drive with 5:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. Stevens did most of the work getting the ball down the field with two rushes for 12 yards and a short completion. Piccirillo then called his own number and bullied his way for another five yards to get the ball inside the Williams one-yard line. Berry did the rest and gave the Cardinals the 26-0 advantage before Fuchs hit the PAT to extend the lead to 27-0 with just 5:57 left in regulation.
Williams would get on the board with a nine-play, 78-yard drive that took 4:40 off the clock, when Lommen hit Darrias Sime on a three-yard touchdown pass with only 1:11 left in the game. Bobby Webster hit the PAT to make the score, 27-7, Wesleyan, late in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals would then run out the clock to secure the 27-7 victory.
Lommen finished with 150 passing yards, completing 19-of-28 passes. Pomella caught five passes for 66 yards, with a long of 27. Noah Sorrento had 21 rushing attempts for 105 yards, and Eric Smith added 56 yards on five attempts. Colin Brown pulled in six catches for 57 yards in the defeat. James O'Grady led the way for the Ephs' defense with eight total tackles. He added a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Dylan Barbour finished with seven tackles and four Ephs finished with six.
The Ephs put up 314 yards of total offense, but turnovers, timely penalties, and a stout Cardinals defense kept them out of the end zone until their final drive. Williams finished 5-for-13 on third downs and punted seven times.
The Cardinals' defense held their ground by forcing two turnovers, and one more on special teams. Jordan Stone led the defensive attack with eight tackles, one for a loss. Senior Jon Spivey also had eight takedowns, while Sanchez forced a fumble, had an interception and had six tackles in the victory.
Piccirillo and Hawkins combined for 166 passing yards and 70 yards on the ground. While Berry, Stevens, and LaDarius Drew combined for 133 rushing yards. Breuler had six receptions for 44 yards, and Meyreles added five catches and 64 yards with a TD.
Wesleyan get's their 40th all-time win over the Ephs, but Williams still leads the all-time series 76-40 with five ties. This is the Cardinals' third straight win over Williams.
Next up for the Cardinals is in-state rival Trinity College. Wesleyan will travel to Hartford in the final week of the season to take on the Bantams at 12 noon on November 14. Williams will host Amherst in their final game that same day.
Wesleyan honored the following seniors in their final home game:
#6 Alex Daversa-Russo
#14 Ladarius Drew
#20 Rob Manning
#28 Jon Spivey
#30 Alec Corazzini
#34 John Vassar
#38 Greg Blaize
#44 Shane Donovan
#65 Shane Jenkins
#70 Will Croughan
#74 Matt Polacek
#75 Zach Calhoun
#77 Blake Cunningham
#82 Dan Laorenza