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LITTLE THREE CHAMPS! Wesleyan Defeats Williams in OT Thriller, 27-21

Photo by Steve McLaughlin Photography
Photo by Steve McLaughlin Photography

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – On their first play in overtime, David Estevez ran 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown as the Wesleyan football team defeated Williams, 27-21 during Homecoming Weekend on Andrus Field at Corwin Stadium Saturday. With the win, the Cardinals, who defeated Amherst in double-overtime a week ago, claimed the Little Three title outright for the third time in the past seven seasons.

Estevez contributed to all four touchdowns for Wesleyan as he rushed for two, threw for one, and returned a kickoff 96 yards for another score. The Cardinals improved to 7-1 overall as they snapped Williams' six-game winning streak. The Ephs were led by QB Bobby Maimaron who totaled 123 yards passing and 125 yards rushing, including three scores, as they dropped to 6-2 on the year.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • After back-to-back punts to start the game, Wesleyan took over at its own-20 and drove 49 yards on nine plays down to the Williams' 31-yard line. On 4th-and-1, the Cardinals went for it but were stuffed for no gain as Williams took over.
  • The Ephs then drove 39 yards on eight plays and went for it on 4th-and-10 at the Wesleyan-30, but came up short as well, as a pass from Maimaron to Tyler Spiezio was broken up by Eli Blair-May.
  • Wesleyan punted on its next drive. Williams took over and went for it on fourth down early in the second quarter, and once again Blair-May came up with a big defensive stop as he broke up another pass from Maimaron to Spiezio.
  • After another Cardinals' punt, the Ephs took over with 8:46 to play in the half at their own-20. The first play of the drive went for 37 yards on a pass from Maimaron to Justin Nelson. The duo later capped off the drive with an eight-yard pass-and-catch to put the visitors ahead 7-0 with 4:01 to play before the break.
  • Wesleyan quickly responded. With Estevez behind center, the sophomore threw a deep pass to Delando Clarke, and with two defenders on him, he hauled in an impressive catch before running in for a 52-yard score.
  • With 1:53 remaining in the half, Williams took over at its own-28 and went 72 yards on just four plays as Maimaron ran up the middle for a 44-yard touchdown, breaking several tackles along the way.
  • On the ensuing kickoff, Estevez caught the ball on the Wesleyan-6 and ran 94 yards for an electrifying return to even the score at 14-14 with 00:39 on the clock.
  • Williams would then kneel out the clock as the teams scored a total of 28 points in the final 4:09 of the half after going scoreless the first 25:51 of play.

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Ephs got the ball first to start the second half and took advantage as they went 58 yards on 11 plays while Maimaron threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Spiezio, putting the visitors ahead by seven.
  • Wesleyan's first drive went three-and-out and Williams took over at its own-25 with 6:28 to play in the quarter. The Ephs drove down to the home-23 yard line and went for it once again on 4th-and-11, and Sam Kirk broke up the pass to Frank Stola.
  • After three-straight punts, Williams drove down to the Wesleyan-11 and attempted a 28-yard field goal that was blocked by the Cardinals. However, a stifling Ephs' defense got to the quarterback on consecutive plays and Wesleyan was forced to punt after another three-and-out.
  • The Ephs punted just 1:43 later to give the Cardinals the ball back with 2:36 on the clock, down a score. On 4th-and-8 with zero timeouts remaining, Ashton Scott completed a 10-yard pass to Hallvard Lundevall down to the Williams-43. Three plays later, Scott found Matthew Simco for a 22-yard gain at the visitor's 2-yard line. After an incomplete pass on first down, Estevez then rushed up the middle for the game-tying score with just 17 seconds left to play.
  • Stole returned the kickoff 43 yards to give the Ephs an opportunity with only 10 seconds remaining, but their final two plays resulted in incomplete passes as the game went into overtime.

OVERTIME HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Cardinals won the toss and chose to play defense first. They stuffed Williams for just two yards and on 4th-and-8, Maimaron's pass to Spiezio fell incomplete to give Wesleyan the ball with a chance to win.
  • On the Cardinals first play, Estevez ran to the left, broke two tackles, and rushed in for the game-winning 25-yard touchdown.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Williams held a 419-to-296 edge in total offense. The Ephs threw for 123 yards and rushed for 296. Wesleyan threw for 231 yards and ran for 65.
  • Scott went 19 of 31 for 164 yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Estevez was 3 of 4 for 67 yards and a score, while also rushing six times for 38 yards and two TD's, and catching three balls for 13 yards. He also punted once for 38 yards and returned three kickoffs for 123 yards and a score. Clarke led the Wesleyan receivers with two catches for 67 yards and Simco hauled in a game-high seven receptions for 63 yards.
  • Chase Pratt led the Cardinals' defense with 15 tackles and Isaiah Miller registered 10. Nick Helbig finished with eight tackles, including two for a loss, and Nick Richards finished with eight and 1.5 for a loss.
  • Maimaron was just 8 of 28 for 123 yards passing but threw for two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He rushed 18 times for 125 yards and a score, while Dan Vaughn rushed 20 times for 98 yards and Joel Nicholas added 74 yards on 10 carries. Nelson led the Williams receivers with 68 yards on three catches and a touchdown.
  • The Ephs' defense was led by Ben Anthony with seven tackles and Luke Apuzzi with six tackles and two sacks. Coleston Smith and Oscar Unobskey also recorded sacks for the visitors.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH DAN DICENZO:

  • "David Estevez is a playmaker. Our offensive staff has done a great job getting him involved in as many areas as they can on offense. Even though he is a quarterback, he is too talented in the return game to not be back there returning kicks and punts. Our kick return unit did a great job opening a lane and David took care of the rest.
  • "Winning the Little Three is a big deal. To win the Little Three, you have to beat two of the best teams in the league. How our guys competed for 60 minutes and stayed together as a team, I was really proud. We beat a very good team today. Our crowd and the atmosphere at the game was electric. I just love how our guys competed."
  • "Our seniors and captains have done a great job leading the team and everyone has bought in. It's a great day to be a Wesleyan Cardinal."

UP NEXT:

  • Wesleyan concludes the season next Saturday, November 9 with an away game against Trinity (5-3). Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.