Week 5 Preview: Wesleyan vs. Amherst

Week 5 Preview: Wesleyan vs. Amherst

WEEK 4 HIGHLIGHTS (by GKess Films)

Wesleyan University and Amherst College football have been at the forefront of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in recent years. To date, the Cardinals have posted a 27-9 (.750) record since 2012, which included a Co-NESCAC Championship and Little Three title in 2013. During that same period, Amherst has gone 32-4 (.889) with three NESCAC crowns, and recently had its 21-game winning streak snapped at Middlebury, 27-26 (Oct. 8, 2016).

Today's game will mark the 122nd meeting between the two Little Three rivals, which dates all the way back to 1882. Amherst has a considerable lead in the all-time series, 70-42-9, but the rivalry has been renewed in recent years. In 2013, the Cardinals went up to Amherst, Massachusetts and spoiled the Purple & White's Homecoming game with a 20-14 win on Pratt Field. The win snapped Amherst's 10-game winning streak over Wesleyan, and was its only loss of the season.

The following year, in 2014, the Purple & White exacted revenge over the Cardinals on their home field, during Homecoming Weekend. Amherst's placekicker, Phillip Nwosu, sent the game into overtime with a 41-yard field goal with 00:23 remaining on the clock and shortly after nailed a 35-yard game-winner to give the Purple & White a 33-30 win.

Last year, Wesleyan brought a young Cardinals team to the Pioneer Valley looking to upset Amherst but fell just short. A late touchdown pass from Devon Carrillo '17 to Gernald Hawkins '18 with 8:18 remaining in regulation put Wesleyan within three, 21-18, but Amherst ran 5:08 off the clock on its following drive before running in for a touchdown to seal the victory as its defense held strong.

Today's game figures to see another battle between two of the league's best, with both teams entering the day with a 3-1 record. Wesleyan, which lost a difficult season-opener on the road against Tufts (3-1), 17-14, has rallied to win three straight by a combined score of 99-19. The Cardinals have been a force on both sides of the ball, and have outgained opponents by a commanding 1,398 total yards to 513 during this stretch, including back-to-back games with 500-plus yards of total offense.

Last week, Wesleyan held its opponent to single digits for the third consecutive game as it rolled over Bates College on the road, 28-7. The Cardinals stifling defense allowed just five first downs all game and held the Bobcats to a mere 132 yards of offense, with just 71 passing and 61 yards rushing. Bates did not convert a third down all game (0 of 13).

The Cardinals are led offensively this year by sophomore quarterback Mark Piccirillo, running backs Lou Stevens '17 and Dario Highsmith '20, and wide receivers Devon Carrillo '17, Mike Breuler '18 and Andrew Mehr '17. Piccirillo has been incredibly efficient and effective under center for Wesleyan and ranks second in the NESCAC in completion percentage (68.8%), fourth in yards per game (169.3), and has not thrown an interception. He also ranks seventh in the league with 56.5 rushing yards per game, having totaled 239 on the year. Highsmith has played in three of the teams four games and averages 55.0 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry in his first season with Wesleyan, while rushing for two touchdowns and catching another. Carrillo has done a little bit of everything for the Cardinals and has six rushing touchdowns, 85 yards receiving, and completed one pass for a 48-yard score.

Defensively, Wesleyan has been led by linebackers Shayne Kaminski '18, Brandon Morris '19 and Cole Harris '18, defensive linemen Jordan Stone '17 and Bobby Nevin '19, and defensive backs Justin Sanchez '17 and Nate Taylor '18. Kaminski leads the team in tackles with 29, Stone has a team-high 1.5 sacks, and Taylor has two interceptions in just four games.

Wesleyan currently boasts the league's top scoring defense, having allowed just 9.0 points per game, and also ranks second in total defense having surrendered 193.0 ypg. The Cardinals' offense has been stellar as well, and ranks first in the NESCAC in time of possession per game (34:38) and second in total offense (427.0 ypg). The team's 28.3 points per game rank fourth in the conference.

Amherst is coming off a 41-0 rout over Colby College at home last Saturday. In his second career start, sophomore quarterback Nick Morales shined for the Purple & White and went 23-of-34 for 323 yards (3 TD, 0 INT). His favorite target on the day, wide receiver Bo Berluti, finished with 155 yards and two touchdowns. Amherst gained 525 yards of total offense and held Colby to 112.

The Purple & White's offense has featured two quarterbacks this season, Morales and Alex Berluti. Morales has 724 yards passing with five touchdowns and one interception, while Alex Berluti has 369 yards, three touchdowns and one pick. Amherst's rushing attack is led by sophomore running back Jack Hickey, who has 239 yards with a league-high seven touchdowns, while the receiving corps has been strong. Devin Boehm, Nick Widen and Bo Berluti each have at least 225 yards or more to highlight the WR's, as Boehm leads the group with 350 yards and three TD's.

Defensively, Amherst is led by linebackers Parker Chapman and Andrew Yamin with 28 and 22 tackles, respectively. Chapman also has two sacks, while Yamin and defensive lineman Isaiah Holloway have 2.5 each. As a team, Amherst ranks second in the conference with 17 sacks. The Purple & White also led the league in total defense (165.0 ypg) and rank second in scoring (9.3 ppg), while opponents have found it near impossible to run on them (6.8 rushing yards allowed per game). In Amherst's three wins this season, the Purple & White have outscored its opponents 106-10. 


BY THE NUMBERS

Team Stats

 

Wesleyan

Amherst

Points Per Game

28.3

33.0

Points Per Game Allowed

9.0

9.3

Offensive Yards Per Game

427.0

425.5

Passing Yards Per Game

223.3

276.5

Rushing Yards Per Game

203.8

149.0

Yards Allowed Per Game

193.0

165.0

Passing Yards Allowed Per Game

123.0

158.3

Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game

70.0

6.8


Individual Stats

 

Wesleyan

Amherst

Passing Leaders

Mark Piccirillo (677 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT)

Nick Morales (724 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT)

 

Gernald Hawkins (168 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT)

Alex Berluti (369 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT)

Rushing Leaders

Mark Piccirillo (226 yards, 3 TD)

Jack Hickey (239 yards, 7 TD)

 

Lou Stevens (197 yards, 1 TD)

Hasani Figueroa (78 yards, 0 TD)

Receiving Leaders

Mike Breuler (268 yards, 1 TD)

Devin Boehm (350 yards, 3 TD)

 

Andrew Mehr (200 yards, 1 TD)

Bo Berluti (301 yards, 4 TD)

Defensive Leaders

Shayne Kaminski (29 tackles, 3 TFL)

Parker Chapman (28 tackles, 2 sacks)

 

Brandon Morris (26 tackles, 1 sack)

Andrew Yamin (22 tackles, 2.5 sacks)