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Week 6 Preview: Wesleyan vs. Bowdoin

Week 6 Preview: Wesleyan vs. Bowdoin

Entering Saturday's game, Wesleyan boasts a 4-1 record and is riding a four-game winning streak, while Bowdoin is still looking for its first win of 2016 as the Polar Bears sit at 0-5. The Cardinals lead the all-time series 57-29-2, dating back to the first meeting in 1906, and defeated Bowdoin 20-14 on the road a year ago.

Last Saturday, Wesleyan shut out Little Three rival Amherst for the first time since 1988, and just the third time since 1948, as its stifling defense forced five turnovers and held the Purple & White to a mere 176 yards of offense. It was also the first time Amherst – who has won three-straight NESCAC Championships, including back-to-back perfect seasons in 2014 and 2015 – had been shut out since the 2007 campaign.

The Cardinals intercepted Amherst's quarterback five times, sacked him five times, and held one of the best rushing attacks in the conference to 11 yards rushing. Of the five Amherst players that carried the ball, only one gained positive yardage. Additionally, the Wesleyan offense was efficient once again as quarterback Mark Piccirillo '19 led the balanced attack with 209 yards passing and 21 yards rushing, but most importantly, zero turnovers.

During its current four-game winning streak, Wesleyan has outscored its opponents 119-19, while holding each team (Hamilton, Colby, Bates and Amherst) to single digits. Additionally, the Cardinals have outgained their opponents 1,709-to-689, and have not allowed more than 201 yards of offense throughout the stretch.

Heading into today's game, Wesleyan boasts the league's top defense and leads the conference in scoring (7.2 points per game), total defense (189.6 yards per game), passing yards allowed (131.4) and interceptions (8). The unit also ranks second in the league in rushing yards allowed (58.2 ypg), and is headlined by linebackers Shayne Kaminski '18, Brandon Morris '19 and Cole Harris '18, and senior co-captains Jordan Stone and Justin Sanchez. Kaminski and Morris lead the team in tackles with 36 each, while Harris and Sanchez rank third (19) and fifth (16) in tackles, respectively, with two interceptions a piece. Stone has been a force on the line and ranks fourth on the team in tackles (18), is tied for the team lead in sacks (2.5), and has broken up two passes.

Offensively, Wesleyan leads the NESCAC in rushing touchdowns (13) and time of possession per game (34:48), while ranking second in yards per rush (4.6) and fourth-down conversions (50%), and third in scoring (26.6 ppg), total offense (403.8 ypg), rushing yards (182.8 ypg), rushing first downs (41), passing first downs (50), punt return average (9.7) and PATs (16-of-17).

Piccirillo has been incredibly efficient for the Cardinals and has completed 80-of-124 passes for 886 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 247 yards, averaging 49.4 per game, and has three rushing touchdowns. Senior Devon Carrillo has done a little bit of everything for Wesleyan this year and has nine total touchdowns (seven rushing, two passing), while gaining 51 yards passing, 96 yards rushing, 131 yards receiving and 152 yards returning punts.

Bowdoin is coming off a 38-7 home loss to Trinity (5-0) and has been outscored this season, 176-66. The Polar Bears have allowed at least 26 points in each game, while giving up 40 to Middlebury and 41 to Tufts. Bowdoin, however, has faced a difficult schedule thus far, as its opponents are a combined 18-7 overall.

The Polar Bears allow 35.2 points per game and 481.8 yards per game, both a league-high. They give up 301.4 yards passing and 180.4 yards rushing per game, and have forced just four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble recovery). The unit is led by freshman linebacker Joe Gowetski and junior defensive back Henry Little. Gowetski leads the team and ranks third in the conference in tackles, averaging 12.2 per game, while Little ranks second on the team with 7.8, and has recorded two sacks, one interception and two break-ups.

On the offensive side, Bowdoin ranks seventh in the conference in scoring (13.2 ppg) and last in total offense (210.2 ypg). They average 158.8 passing yards and 51.4 rushing yards per game, and use a two-quarterback system with senior Tim Drakeley and sophomore Noah Nelson. Drakeley has played all five games and is 28-of-59 for 285 yards (1 TD, 2 INT), while Nelson has played in four contests and is 52-of-113 for 509 yards (4 TD, 3 INT). The running game is led by freshman Nate Richam with 198 yards, averaging 39.6 per game, with one touchdown, and the receiving corps is highlighted by Nick Vailas who has pulled in 235 yards and two touchdowns.

In last year's matchup, Wesleyan jumped out to a 10-0 lead on the road. Lou Stevens '17 scored the first touchdown of the game in the first quarter, capping off an 8-play, 81-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Fuchs increased the Cardinals lead to 10 in the second quarter with a 28-yard field goal, but Bowdoin scored with :12 remaining before halftime as Nelson found Bryan Porter for an eight-yard score.

Early in the second half, Stevens increased Wesleyan's lead to 10 once again as he rushed for a 15-yard score. In the closing minutes of the third quarter, Bowdoin punted but a fumble on the return was recovered by the Polar Bears. Four plays later, Nelson rushed one yard for the touchdown to put Bowdoin within three, 17-14. Fuchs added another field goal with under five minutes to play in regulation, and Zac Cuzner picked off Nelson on each of Bowdoin's next two possessions to seal the 20-14 win. 


BY THE NUMBERS

Team Stats
 

Wesleyan

Bowdoin

Points Per Game

26.6

13.2

Points Per Game Allowed

7.2

35.2

Offensive Yards Per Game

403.8

210.2

Passing Yards Per Game

221.0

158.8

Rushing Yards Per Game

182.8

51.4

Yards Allowed Per Game

189.6

481.8

Passing Yards Allowed Per Game

131.4

301.4

Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game

58.2

180.4


Individual Stats
 

Wesleyan

Bowdoin

Passing Leaders

Mark Piccirillo (886 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT)

Noah Nelson (509 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT)

 

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

Tim Drakeley (285 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT)

Rushing Leaders

Mark Piccirillo (247 yards, 3 TD)

Nate Richam (198 yards, 1 TD)

 

Lou Stevens (232 yards, 1 TD)

Christopher Markisz (49 yards, 0 TD)

Receiving Leaders

Mike Breuler (338 yards, 1 TD)

Nick Vailas (235 yards, 2 TD)

 

Andrew Mehr (256 yards, 1 TD)

Liam Ford (158 yards, 1 TD)

Defensive Leaders

Shayne Kaminski (36 tackles, 1 sack)

Joe Gowetski (61 tackles, 1 sack)

 

Brandon Morris (36 tackles, 1.5 sacks)

Henry Little (39 tackles, 2 sacks)