Wesleyan's Stifling Defense Forces Five Turnovers as Cardinals Shut Out Amherst on Homecoming Weekend, 20-0

Photo by Lianne Yun '18
Photo by Lianne Yun '18

THE BASICS:

Score: Wesleyan 20, Amherst 0
Records: Wesleyan (4-1), Amherst (3-2)
Location: Middletown, Conn. (Corwin Stadium at Andrus Field)
Date: Saturday, October 22nd
Time: 1 p.m.
The Lead: For the first time since 1988, the Wesleyan University football team shut out Little Three rival Amherst, 20-0 during Homecoming Weekend. The Cardinals stifling defense held the Purple & White to a mere 176 yards of total offense and forced five turnovers en route to the victory.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Amherst received the opening kick-off, but was forced to punt after a three-and-out. Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Mark Piccirillo found senior wide receiver Andrew Mehr for a 31-yard gain. The Cardinals would end up kicking a field goal, as senior Ike Fuchs connected from 45 yards out.
  • After three consecutive three-and-outs, Wesleyan put together a 52-yard drive beginning with 6:01 to play in the first quarter. However, the Cardinals' field goal attempt missed wide right.
  • On Amherst's ensuing possession, Cole Harris '18 intercepted Amherst quarterback Nick Morales at the Amherst-32 yard line and returned it 31 yards before getting stopped at the goal line. The next play, Devon Carrillo '17 rushed up the middle for the touchdown to put the home team ahead, 10-0.
  • The second quarter was a defensive battle that featured five consecutive punts. With 3:48 to play in the half, Wesleyan took over from the Amherst-49 but failed to convert on a fourth down attempt.
  • The Purple & White took over with :58 on the clock, but couldn't get anything going as Zac Cuzner '17 picked off Morales to end the half, with the Cardinals claiming a 10-0 halftime lead.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On the opening kickoff of the second half, Eric Meyreles '17 shifted through the Amherst defense and found the left side line as he ran 54 yards before getting pushed out of bounds at the visitor's 35. Amherst's defense, however, held strong and forced a Wesleyan kick as Fuchs connected from 25 yards out.
  • Amherst regained possession as Morales completed three consecutive passes, and later connected with Bo Berluti for a 16 yard gain down to the Wesleyan-35. On his next pass attempt, he was picked off by Justin Sanchez '17.
  • After both teams punted, Wesleyan took over with :12 left in the third. Ahead 13-0, Amherst forced a three-and-out, but the Purple & White returner muffed the punt in the tough weather conditions. The Cardinals had a good opportunity to recover but couldn't pick it up as Amherst regained possession.
  • On their next play, the visitor's threw 13 yards for a first down. However, three plays later, Morales was intercepted by Harris as the junior came up big once again to end Amherst's momentum.
  • Two plays later, Piccirillo lofted a soft throw to the right side line that only Mike Breuler could catch. The junior wide receiver caught the pass in stride and gained 58 yards before getting taken down at the Amherst-3. With Carrillo behind center, the senior faked the quarterback draw and tossed a high lob to tight end Ben Kurtz '17 for the three-yard touchdown to put Wesleyan ahead 20-0 with 10:10 to play.
  • The Cardinals defense forced a three-and-out and then picked off Morales with 4:06 to play, to seal the victory.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Wesleyan outgained Amherst, 311-to-176, and allowed just 11 yards rushing. Entering today's game, Amherst averaged 425.5 yards per game and 149.0 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals also gained 99 yards on the ground against an Amherst defense that allowed just 6.8 rushing yards per game prior to Saturday's contest.
  • Piccirillo went 14-of-28 for 209 yards and also gained 21 yards rushing. Breuler caught three passes for 70 yards and Mehr finished with 56. Carrillo went 1-for-1 passing with a three-yard touchdown, rushed six times for 13 yards and a touchdown, and gained 46 yards receiving on four catches.
  • Defensively, Harris was all over the field and finished with two interceptions and two break-ups, while Cuzner finished with two interceptions and one break-up. Brandon Morris '19 recorded a game-high 10 tackles, and Grant Williams '19 registered two sacks and six tackles.
  • Morales finished 18-of-39 for 165 yards and five interceptions. Jack Hickey rushed seven times for 33 yards, and Devin Boehm gained 73 yards receiving on six catches.
  • The Purple & White defense was led by Andrew Yamin and Andrew Sommer with 10 tackles each. Yamin added a sack and a break-up.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • Today's win was Wesleyan's first over Amherst since 2013 (20-14), in which the Cardinals went on to tie Amherst and Middlebury for the NESCAC Championship.
  • It was the first time an Amherst team has been shut out since 2007. It was also the first time Wesleyan shut out the Purple & White since the 1988 season, and just the third time dating back to 1948.

HEAD COACH DAN DICENZO

  • "This was a huge win, I'm really proud of how the guys played. No one thought we could do it but we believed in ourselves and put in the work all week and got it done."

UP NEXT:

  • Wesleyan remains home next weekend and will host Bowdoin during Family Weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.
  • Amherst returns to the Pioneer Valley next Saturday and will host Tufts at 1 p.m.

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