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Football Edges Colby 24-21, in Back-And-Forth Battle at Home

Photo by Jonas Powell '18
Photo by Jonas Powell '18

Sophomore quarterback Gernald Hawkins connected with junior Devon Carrillo on a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the Wesleyan University football team a come-from-behind, 24-21 victory over the visiting Colby College Mules on Sat. Oct. 10, at Andrus Field. Carrillo carried the load for the Cardinal offense, accounting for 102 of the 178 total receiving yards on four catches, and 54 of the 193 total rushing yards on seven carried. The junior also returned two punts for 33 yards. 

Wesleyan moves to 2-1 in the NESCAC, while Colby drops to 0-3 after playing a gauntlet of a schedule to open the season, having played Trinity, Middlebury, and now the Cardinals. 

The Mules took a 3-0 lead on a 30-yard field goal by John Baron on their opening drive just 3:44 into the first quarter. Jabari Hurdle-Price, who finished with 202 yards on 26 carries, burst through the middle on a draw play for 19 yards to get the Colby offense in gear. Junior quarterback Gabe Harrington then completed three passes for 39 yards and Hurdle-Price added an 18-yard run to get Colby into field goal territory. But the Cardinals defense stood tall, forcing a field goal attempt that Baron put through the uprights to give the visitors a 3-0 advantage. 

After two Cardinals drives stalled and ended with punts, the home team started a drive from their own 30-yard line with 2:25 left to play in the quarter, still trailing 3-0. Hawkins connected with junior Kris Luster on a 29-yard pass to kickstart the Wesleyan offense. Carrillo then ran the show from the wildcat on two consecutive runs, one for 12 yards and the other for 14, where Carrillo was brought down at the Colby one-yard line. After a Cardinals' timeout with 29 seconds remaining in the quarter, sophomore Jaylen Berry took one of his eight carries (for 17 total yards) into the end zone to give Wesleyan a 7-3 lead at the end of one quarter. 

The Mules then went on a 12-play, 62-yard drive that ate up almost six minutes of clock, but once again their offense stalled when they failed on a 4th-and-3 attempt. Hurdle-Price rushed for 15 yards on the drive, while Harrington chipped in 23 yards on the ground. But the Cardinals' junior safety Justin Sanchez broke up the 4th-and-3 pass, and Wesleyan took over on downs. 

But the Mules defense quickly picked them up. After a holding penalty pinned the Wesleyan offense deep in their own zone, at the three yard line, Hawkins threw an ill-advised pass while being chased into the back of end zone that was intercepted by Patrick Yale and returned one yard for a touchdown that gave the visitors a 9-7 lead. Colby failed on their extra-point attempt, and the Mules kept their 9-7 advantage with 8:59 to play in the half. 

Both teams then had drives end in punts before the Cardinals went on a 16-play, 71-yard drive to end the half. Freshman Mark Piccirillo started under center and rushed twice for 12 yards before Hawkins came back in and added a 14-yard rush of his own. Then Carrillo added another 19-yard run to keep the chains moving. Hawkins and Luster connected again, this time on an eight-yard pass to get the Cardinals into a 4th-and 2 situation with 26 seconds in the half, at the Colby 19. Junior Lou Stevens then rushed up the middle for a five-yard gain, and Ike Fuchs gave the Cardinals a 10-9 lead with a 27-yard field goal to end the half. 

The third quarter went scoreless, as both teams flexed their defensive muscles, forcing three combined punts (two by Colby, one by Wesleyan) and a blocked 22-yard field goal attempt by Colby's Mark Snyder. 

But the fourth quarter was when the real see-saw match began. Wesleyan took a 17-9 lead on Devon Carrillo's nine-yard rush to the left with 11:30 remaining in regulation. The Mules committed a roughing-the-passer penalty just when they thought they were forcing a turnover on downs that set the Cardinals up with great field position at the Colby 13-yard line. Two plays later, Carrillo punched it in to take an eight-point lead. 

The Mules then responded with a six-play, 35-yard touchdown drive that only spanned 2:35 to get back into the game, 17-15. Hurdle-Price broke a 20-yard run, before Harrington connected with Matthew Richman for a 12-yard completion, putting the ball at the Wesleyan 19-yard line. Then the Mules handed it to their feature back three times, and Hurdle-Price did the rest, finishing the drive with a one-yard TD run to get Colby within two. The Mules failed on their two-point conversion attempt and the score remained 17-15 in favor of the home team. 

Colby then forced a quick three-and-out and quickly took a 21-17 lead on a 65-yard TD run by Hurdle-Price for his second touchdown on the day. The Mules failed on another 2-point conversion attempt and the score was 21-17 Colby, with 4:09 left in the 4th quarter. 

After the kickoff, Hawkins just wouldn't let his team fail, scrambling for 31 yards on 2nd-and-6 from his own 38-yard line. After an illegal block in the back by the Cardinals, Hawkins connected with Carrillo for the 35-yard touchdown pass down the left side (right in front of the Wesleyan bench) to seal the deal for Wesleyan's second victory of 2015. The score came with just 1:30 left on the clock. 

Hawkins finished 11-for-21 with 178 yards, one touchdown pass, one interception and 72 rushing yards on seven attempts. Colby's Harrington rushed for 29 yards on seven carries and went 15-for-34 for 125 yards in the air.

Carrillo led the Cardinal offense with four grabs for 102 yards, and Luster chipped in two catches for 37 yards. The Wesleyan offense rushed the ball 40 times for 193 yards and the Mules rushed 37 times for 249 yards. 

Masa Mayikana led the Mules with four catches and 23 yards, while Glenn Parsons had two catches for 29 yards, with a 23-yard reception. 

Colby won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 33:38 to Wesleyan's 26:22. And the Mules went 9-18 on third down to the Cardinals 3-13. But two failed fourth-down attempts and two failed two-point conversions cost the Mules as the Cardinals edged Colby 24-21. 

Wesleyan next hosts Bates (0-3) on Sat. Oct. 17, while Colby travels to Amherst (3-0) that same day.