Score: Wesleyan 34, Hamilton 6
Records: Wesleyan (1-1), Hamilton (0-2)
Location: Middletown, Conn. (Corwin Stadium at Andrus Field)
Date: Saturday, October 1st
Time: 1 p.m.
The Lead: The Wesleyan University football team amassed 511 yards of total offense, and held Hamilton to 180 yards, en route to a commanding 34-6 win Saturday afternoon in the Cardinals' 2016 home opener.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- On Wesleyan's second drive of the day, running back Dario Highsmith '20 rushed up the middle and sped past defenders for an 80-yard touchdown score to put Wesleyan ahead, 7-0 at the 8:35 mark. The touchdown run came on the first play of the drive.
- The Cardinals wasted no time extending their lead in the second quarter. Just 2:13 in, quarterback Mark Piccirillo '19 connected with Highsmith in the back left of the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown.
- After back-to-back drives that ended in punts, Hamilton regained possession with 4:56 to play in the half. Cole Freeman led the drive that went 70 yards in 1:53, as he capped it off with a 28-yard score to Charles Ensley. The extra-point was blocked as Wesleyan led, 14-6.
- The Cardinals, however, responded on their next drive. Starting at their own-38 yard line, Piccirillo completed six-straight passes, and rushed for a yard before Devon Carrillo '17 powered through the defensive line for a three-yard touchdown with just :17 remaining on the clock. Wesleyan's extra-point was unsuccessful as the Cardinals took a 20-6 lead into the break.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- Hamilton had a strong opening drive to start the second half, as it went 60 yards on nine plays, but it ended with a missed field goal from 31 yards out.
- At the 6:37 mark, Wesleyan started its drive from its own-36. Quarterback Gernald Hawkins '18 entered the game and went 2-for-2 on the drive, including a 19-yard completion to Ben Kurtz '17, and Highsmith added a 19 yard-gain on a carry to get to Hamilton's seven-yard line. Two plays later, Piccirillo rushed to the left side of the field and crossed the end zone untouched to put the Cardinals ahead, 27-6.
- Nate Taylor '18 intercepted Freeman on Hamilton's next possession, and Wesleyan capitalized with a 10-play, 86-yard drive capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass from Piccirillo to Kurtz.
- Neither team would score the rest of the way as Wesleyan held on for the 34-6 win.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Wesleyan gained 22 first downs to Hamilton's nine. The Cardinals were efficient on third downs (6-of-13), and totaled 238 yards through the air and 273 on the ground. The home team also held a 37:03-to-22:57 edge in time of possession.
- Piccirrillo was impressive under center and finished 18-of-23 for 193 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers. Highsmith rushed five times for 101 yards and a score, and Lou Stevens '17 tacked on 61 yards on 10 carries. Mike Breuler '18 led all receivers with 84 yards on eight catches, and Shayne Kaminski '18 led the Cardinals with seven tackles (4 solo; 3 assists). Taylor and Elias Camacho '18 both recorded interceptions.
- The Continentals gained 134 yards through the air and were held to 46 yards rushing. Freeman finished 11-of-24 for 134 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Marcus Gutierrez rushed eight times for 12 yards, and Kory Fogarty carried the ball four times for a team-high 21 yards. Ensley pulled in four catches for 69 yards and a score. Defensively, three players recorded double-digit tackles – Mickey Keating (15), Brent Lobien (12) and Cole Burchill (10). Lobien and Tyler Hudson also recorded a sack each.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:
- Saturday's game marked the 45th meeting between the Cardinals and Continentals. Wesleyan leads the all-time series, 28-17-1.
- The Cardinals have now won five straight against their NESCAC foe.
- Hamilton's last win over Wesleyan was 2011, in which it won, 7-6.
HEAD COACH DAN DICENZO:
- "I thought Mark Piccirillo did a great job, going 18-for-23 through the air and leading the offense, and it was great to see Dario Highsmith make a big play and get our offense going early.
- "Defensively, I thought we did a great job being physical up front and stopping the run."
- The Cardinals return to the field next Saturday, Oct. 8 and will face Colby on the road at 1 p.m.
- The Continentals are scheduled to host Trinity next Saturday in their 2016 home-opener at 1 p.m.