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Week 7 Preview: Wesleyan (4-2) vs. Bowdoin (0-6)

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

Saturday's showdown between Wesleyan (4-2) and Bowdoin (0-6) will be the 90th all-time meeting between the two programs, with the Cardinals holding a commanding 58-29-2 record in the series. Wesleyan has won five-straight against its rivals—including a 39-10 victory a year ago—with the Polar Bears' last win coming in 2011 by a score of 12-6.

The Cardinals are coming off a difficult four-point loss (21-17) at Amherst last Saturday and will look to rebound offensively this weekend. Entering the Little Three matchup, Wesleyan boasted one of the league's top offensive units, but the Mammoths' defense held them to under 200 yards for the first time this season with just 129 through the air and 68 on the ground. Despite the offensive struggles, the Cardinals' led 17-7 entering the fourth quarter as the defense blocked two field goals and Shayne Kaminski '18 returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown. Amherst would cut the lead to three early in the fourth, however, and a 51-yard run by the Mammoths' Hasani Figueroa with 1:27 remaining in the game sealed the victory for the home team.

Wesleyan enters this weekend ranked third in the NESCAC in both total offense (428.0 yards/game) and total defense (313.8 yards/game). Additionally, the Cardinals average 30.2 points per game on offense and allow just 17.8 points/game to rank fourth in the league in both categories.

Offensively, they rank second in the NESCAC in passing with 310.8 yards/game and are led by quarterback Mark Piccirillo who is enjoying a stellar junior season. The Connecticut native leads the league in yards (1,795), yards per game (299.2) and completion percentage (69.3%), and also ranks second in touchdowns with 15. His favorite target has been the dynamic senior wide receiver Mike Breuler. Breuler, another Connecticut native, has been one of the top wide receivers in the country this season and leads the NESCAC in receptions per game (10.0), yards (866), yards per game (144.3) and touchdowns (7). Piccirillo also leads Wesleyan in rushing and ranks 10th in the league, averaging 50.0 yards/game with two touchdowns. He has 300 total yards on the season.

On the defensive side, junior linebacker Brandon Morris has been impressive for the Cardinals as he ranks second in the conference in tackles, averaging 10.8 per game. He also has 2.5 sacks, five tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two breakups. In the secondary, Ben Thaw '20 is tied for the league-lead in interceptions with three.

Bowdoin is looking for its first win since November 14, 2015. Last Saturday, the Polar Bears lost at Trinity in a 63-14 rout in which they were down 49-7 at halftime. They surrendered 572 yards of total offense with 317 on the ground.

Bowdoin ranks ninth in the NESCAC in total offense (244.5 yards/game) and last in total defense (485.5 yards/game). The Polar Bears average just 120.0 yards/game through the air, 124.5 yards/game on the ground, and rank ninth in the conference in scoring with just 11.0 points/game. Defensively, they allow 37.0 points/game while giving up 267.2 yards/game in the air and 218.3 yards/game rushing (last in the league).

Freshman QB Griff Stalcup has seen the majority of action under center and is 53-for-105 with 511 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions. His favorite targets have been a pair of seniors, WR Nick Vailas and TE Bryan Porter. Vailas leads the team in receiving with 258 yards and one touchdown, while Porter ranks second with 187 yards and one score. Sophomore RB Nate Richam is the team's leading rusher with 346 yards on the ground, averaging 4.8 per carry. Defensively, junior DB Cameron Rondeau leads the team with 31 tackles (5.2 per game) and six breakups, while sophomore LB Christian Pridgen boasts a team-high 2.5 sacks.

In last year's matchup between Wesleyan and Bowdoin, the Cardinals held a 17-10 lead at halftime. However, they shut-out the Polar Bears in the final 30 minutes of action en route to the 29-point win (39-10). Piccirillo went 22-for-32 with 220 yards, two TD's and zero interceptions, and Kaminski recorded 11 tackles including 2.5 sacks for a loss of 21 yards. As a team, Wesleyan recorded seven sacks on the day.