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Week 3 Football Preview: Wesleyan (1-1) at Hamilton (0-2)

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

Wesleyan (1-1) and Hamilton (0-2) will meet Saturday for the 47th time in the series history, which dates all the way back to 1909. The Cardinals are eying their sixth consecutive win against their NESCAC rival, and second in a row this season, while the Continentals look for their first win of 2017. Wesleyan is 28-17-1 all-time against Hamilton and 7-3 in the last 10 outings.

< WEEK 2 HIGHLIGHT VIDEO > (by GKess Films)

After a disappointing loss in their season opener at Middlebury (2-0), in which the Cardinals' late rally came up short in a 30-27 defeat, Wesleyan responded with an incredible comeback win against Tufts (1-1) in its Week 2 showdown. It was the Cardinals' first home game of the season, and second night game in program history, as they rallied from a 17-3 fourth quarter deficit to win in overtime, 24-17.

Eric Meyreles '18 caught a 24-yard game-tying touchdown – his second of the game – with just :06 on the clock and Corey Phillips '18E made the extra-point to send the game into OT. Just two plays later, Mark Piccirillo '19 found Mike Breuler '18 for a 14-yard score. On Tufts' ensuing possession, Shayne Kaminski '18 intercepted Ryan McDonald to seal the victory.

Breuler finished with an incredible 13 catches for 201 yards and a TD en route to NESCAC Player of the Week honors. Through two games, he leads all of Division III in receptions per game (14.0) and receiving yards per game (189.5). He also has four touchdowns.

Wesleyan currently leads the NESCAC in passing yards (701), passing yards per game (350.5), passing touchdowns (7) and defensive interceptions (2). The Cardinals have yet to develop much of a rushing attack in their first two games, but rank fourth in the league in total offense, averaging 413.0 yards per game.

After a crushing Week 1 loss at Tufts, in which Hamilton forced overtime before coming up short 38-25, the Continentals suffered a 30-point defeat in their home opener against Amherst last Saturday. Similar to Wesleyan's Week 2 performance, Hamilton also went scoreless in the first half of play as it trailed 22-0 at the break. However, the Continentals were unable to overcome an eventual 36-point deficit as they would go on to lose, 36-6.

Through two games, Hamilton ranks sixth in the NESCAC in total offense (364.5 yards/game) and ninth in total defense (434.0 yards/game). The Continentals are averaging 17.0 points per game, seventh in the NESCAC, and are allowing 35.5 points per game, which ranks ninth. A pass-heavy offense, Hamilton has only rushed the ball 49 times in two games and are averaging a mere 38.5 yards per game, while they've thrown the ball 96 times for 652 yards. Sophomore quarterback Kenny Gray is off to a good start this year with 610 yards, five TD's and one interception. His favorite targets have been classmates Joe Schmidt and Christian Donahoe with 268 and 206 receiving yards, respectively. Schmidt also has four touchdowns and Donahoe has one.

Last time these two teams met, Wesleyan rolled to a 34-6 victory at Corwin Stadium on October 1, 2016. The Cardinals gained 511 yards of offense behind a balanced attack (238 yards passing; 273 yards rushing), while holding Hamilton to 180. Dario Highsmith '20 had a breakout game as a freshman, as he rushed for 101 yards on just five carries, including an 80-yard score.