MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Trailing 23-21 at halftime, the Wesleyan University football team rallied in the second half en route to a 41-23 victory over Bates College Saturday afternoon at Corwin Stadium. The Cardinals' defense held the Bobcats to only 43 yards in the final 30 minutes of action as they won their fourth consecutive game to improve to 4-1 this season. Bates remains winless and is now 0-5.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- After back-to-back punts to open the game, Bates took over at its own-8 yard line with 12:17 on the clock. A 57-yard rush by quarterback Brendan Costa got the visitors down to the Wesleyan-4. Three plays later, Peter Boyer ran for a one-yard touchdown to cap off an 11-play, 92-yard drive.
- The Bobcats forced a three-and-out and regained possession at their own-34. Costa broke open another long run, this time finding the end zone from 23 yards out as the visitors took a 14-0 lead with 3:41 to play in the first quarter.
- Wesleyan answered, however, as junior QB Mark Piccirillo connected with senior WR Mike Breuler for a 48-yard gain on the first play of the drive. Two plays later, Piccirillo broke to the left and ran untouched for a 22-yard TD to cut the deficit to seven.
- After a Bates' three-and-out, the Cardinals took over at their own-19. After a couple completions and a 15-yard rush by freshman RB Sean Penney, Wesleyan made its way to the visitor's 47-yard line. Piccirillo then heaved one deep to Breuler, as the senior jumped above his defender and secured the catch for a 45-yard gain. On the next play, Penney punched it in from two yards out as the home team evened the score at 14-14 with 14:32 remaining in the second quarter.
- Bates' next possession resulted in a turnover on downs after 12 plays, but Coy Candelario intercepted Piccirillo on Wesleyan's ensuing drive to get the ball back. Costa then completed a 24-yard pass to Jaason Lopez, and three plays later, Lopez beat his defender deep down the field as Costa found him for a 54-yard score. The extra-point attempt hit the post and missed wide to give Bates a 20-14 lead.
- Wesleyan took over with 6:27 to play in the half and drove 58 yards on eight plays as Penney rushed for his second touchdown of the day. The freshman powered up the middle for a four-yard score to put the home team on top, 21-20.
- The Bobcats responded on their next possession and went 47 yards on nine plays before Grant DeWald capped off the drive with a 43-yard field goal with just :26 remaining.
- Wesleyan kneeled on its next play to run out the clock as the Cardinals trailed 23-21 at halftime.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- The second half was a different story and was all Wesleyan from the beginning.
- The Cardinals received the ball first and went 63 yards on 14 plays before graduate placekicker Corey Phillips connected from 31 yards out to put the home team back ahead, this time for good (24-23).
- Wesleyan forced a three-and-out and regained possession at its own-21 yard line. Piccirillo went 6-for-6 on the drive with four completions to Gernald Hawkins '18 including a 35-yard gain and an eight-yard touchdown. On the TD, Hawkins caught a short pass near the right sidelines and broke a tackle on his way to the end zone.
- On the Cardinals' second drive of the fourth quarter, Phillips put the game out of reach with a 20-yard field goal to give Wesleyan a 34-23 lead with 5:15 remaining in regulation.
- Breuler would later score an insurance touchdown from two yards out with 1:41 on the clock.
- Bates was held to four three-and-outs in the second half and only managed three first downs in the final 30 minutes of play, which all occurred on the final drive.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Piccirillo finished 31-44 for 388 yards, two TD's and one INT—marking his third 300-plus passing performance this season. He also finished as the team's leading rusher with 84 yards on 11 attempts, including a score. Breuler and Hawkins each recorded 100-plus receiving yards and a touchdown. Breuler secured 11 catches for 170 yards—his fourth 150-plus game this season—and Hawkins registered career-highs of 12 catches and 118 receiving yards.
- Defensively, Wesleyan was led by Brandon Morris '19 who finished with a game-high 14 tackles including two for a loss. Shayne Kaminiski '18 added eight, and Taj Gooden '21 recorded his second sack of the year.
- Costa, who had a strong first half with 168 yards rushing and 78 passing, ran for just two yards in the second half and threw for 19. Lopez was the leading receiver for Bates with 78 on two catches.
- The Bobcats' defense was led by Bobby Dee and Chase Fulton with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
- Wesleyan outgained Bates 537-384 and held a 33:53-to-26:07 edge in time of possession.
- The Cardinals will play at Little Three rival Amherst (4-1) next Saturday, Oct. 21 in a matchup against two of the best teams in the NESCAC. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.