MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Christian Snell of Hamilton College blocked a Wesleyan punt and recovered it in the end zone with just 1:34 to play in regulation as the Continentals stunned the Cardinals at Corwin Stadium Saturday afternoon, 33-29.
Wesleyan (1-2) had one last shot in a game that went back-and-forth throughout, but a desperation heave by QB Mark Piccirillo in the closing seconds was intercepted in the end zone by Ian Esliker to seal the Hamilton (1-2) victory.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- The Cardinals received the ball first but Hamilton's defense forced a three-and-out. Starting at their own-35, QB Kenny Gray led a 6-play, 63-yard scoring drive in 2:52 to put the visitors on the board first at the 10:15 mark. WR Christian Donahoe caught the TD pass for 26 yards as he broke a tackle near the right sideline before running in untouched.
- Both teams punted on their next possessions to keep it a 7-0 game after the first.
- In the opening minute of the second quarter, WR Joe Scancarella '21 got past the defense and connected with Piccirillo for a 37-yard score to tie the game with 14:10 to play in the half.
- After back-to-back punts, Hamilton took over at the Wesleyan-34 following a 21-yard punt return by Sam Robinson. In good field position, the Continentals went for it on 4th-and-1 but Taj Gooden '21 stuffed Joe Schmidt for a 1-yard loss.
- The Cardinals took over at their own-26 and drove 38 yards down the field on 10 plays but were forced to punt. Hamilton capitalized on its next drive as Gray tossed one in the right corner of the end zone for WR Will Budington as he outjumped the defender and snagged a 20-yard TD to cap off a 7-play, 80-yard drive. Following a successful PAT, the Continentals claimed a 14-7 advantage.
- On Wesleyan's ensuing possession, Piccirillo was picked off at the Hamilton-10 but a roughing the passer call brought it back. Two plays later, the QB connected with WR Hallvard Lundevall '20 for a 15-yard score to tie the game. Lundevall caught the pass near the 5-yard line on the right sidelines, dodged a defender, and ran in untouched.
- Hamilton took over with 30 seconds to play in the half and ended up punting, but only :02 remained on the clock when the Cardinals took over as they knelt and went into the break tied at 14-14.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- Hamilton received the ball first in the second half and took advantage. The visitors drove 75 yards on seven plays in just 2:09 as Gray connected with a wide-open Budington for a 6-yard TD pass. However, the extra point missed wide.
- After back-to-back three-and-outs, Wesleyan took over with 10:16 in the third at its own-20. The Cardinals drove down the field and Piccirillo punched in a QB sneak from one yard out. Following a good PAT, the home team went ahead 21-20. The drive went 80 yards on 16 plays and took 8:12 off the clock.
- In the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Hamilton regained a lead when Gray threw a running back screen to David Kagan from eight yards out. The Continentals attempted a two-point conversation but failed as they led 26-21 with 14:21 remaining in regulation.
- Wesleyan answered with a scoring drive of its own. Piccirillo threw a 44-yard pass to Lundevall as he stretched out his arms in the middle of the field for an incredible catch. Shortly after, the duo connected again, this time on a 5-yard slant for the touchdown. Piccirillo then converted a two-point conversion with a rush to the left side as Wesleyan went up 29-26 with 10:22 on the clock.
- Hamilton's ensuing drive went 24 yards on nine plays but a 37-yard punt by Billy Wagner was downed at the Wesleyan-1. The defense then forced a three-and-out as the Continentals took over at the visitor's 35-yard line with 4:25 remaining.
- Facing a 4th-and-4, Gray completed a pass to Kagan but LB Cole Harris '19 made a huge tackle just inches in front of the first down mark as Wesleyan took over with 2:42 to play.
- Hamilton forced a three-and-out, and on the Cardinals' punt, Snell broke free and blocked the kick that went 26 yards backward as he eventually landed on the ball in the end zone. The visitors took a 33-29 lead with just 1:34 to play.
- Trailing by four with three timeouts remaining, Wesleyan took over at its own-25. Facing constant pressure, Piccirillo was able to drive down to the Hamilton-40 before throwing a hail mary in the end zone that was picked off by Esliker.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Piccirillo was 20-of-36 for 263 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT. He also rushed 20 times for 64 yards and a score. RB Glenn Smith '21 added 15 rushes for 54 yards, while the receiving corps were led by Lundevall and Scancarella. Lundevall finished with six catches for a game-high 92 yards and two touchdowns while Scancarella secured four catches for 57 yards and a score.
- Defensively, Wesleyan was led by Harris and DB Zak Foster '19 with seven tackles each. Harris also broke up two passes and Foster broke up one.
- Gray finished 18-of-31 for 193 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 56 yards on eight attempts. Freshman Joe Park led all rushers with 104 yards on 18 carries and Schmidt led the team in receptions with six and 79 yards.
- Cole Burchill had a game-high 11 tackles to lead Hamilton's defense and Colby Jones finished with 10. Sean Tolton also recorded a sack and eight tackles.
- Wesleyan outgained Hamilton 413-to-357. The Cardinals finished with 263 yards through the air and 150 on the ground, while the Continentals threw for 193 yards and rushed for 164.
- Wesleyan is on the road for its next two games and will play at Colby next Saturday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m.