Cards Rally Back After Trailing 13-0 for 20-13 Lead but Fall in Season Finale at Trinity in 2 OTs
In a game that featured just about everything imaginable in an exciting NESCAC football contest, Wesleyan rallied back from an early 13-0 deficit to take a 20-13 edge into the fourth quarter at Trinity Sat., Nov. 14. But the homestanders tied the game at 9:39 of the final stanza and eventually won the game, 26-23, on a 42-yard field goal in the second overtime to preserve their 35-game home winning streak.
Behind some inspired play up and down the lineup, Wesleyan came ever so close to becoming the first squad to beat the Bantams in Hartford since the second game of the 2001 season. Wesleyan got a pair of TD passes from Blake Dubois '12 to Pete Modera '11 (#9, photo insert upper left) and Dave Brunelli '12 in the second quarter to draw within a point at halftime, 13-12. Both Cardinal scores were set up by special-teams plays as Matt Maloney '11 broke through to block a Bantam punt, recovering it at the Trinity 32-yard line. From there, a quick 18-yard strike from DuBois to Mike Dudley '13 got the Cards to the 14-yard line. After a sack pushed Wesleyan back to the 21, Modera did the rest, catching a ball just five yards up field over the middle, cutting to his left and outracing the Trinity defense to the goalline. The second Cardinal score came after Trevor Rhodes '12 pounced on a punt muffed by Trinity at the Bantams' 11, and DuBois promptly hit Brunelli in the endzone.
Wesleyan held the Bantams in check during the third period while another special-teams play led indirectly to Wesleyan's go-ahead TD at 5:07 of the period. Joe Byous '12 jarred the opening kickoff of the half loose from a Bantam returner and recovered the ball at the Trinity 26. Though Wesleyan could not cash in on the opportunity, the defense held the Bantams deep and forced a punt. Wesleyan started its next series in Bantam territory at the 45. With the aid of two Trinity penalties, one leading to a 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line, Wesleyan cracked in on 4th down as Shea Dwyer '10 (#5, main photo) knifed between two defenders to reach paydirt. A two-point conversion pass to Mike Ferris '09 made it a seven-point bulge.
Trinity got the only points of the fourth quarter set up by a big 49-yard pass completion. Still, there was no further scoring in regulation and along came overtime.
Trinity got the ball first. Wesleyan held on a key 3rd-and-2 run from the 7-yard line as Chuck Riether '09 and Brett Bandazian '12 (#92 & #56, photo insert lower left) combined for a huge four-yard loss, but Trinity converted on a 28-yard field goal to go ahead 23-20. Wesleyan countered with a 26-yard field goal of its own off the foot of Matt Alexander '12 (#80, photo insert lower right) to even the count at 23-23, setting up a second OT. It was the first field goal of Alexander's career. In the second OT, DuBois was picked off in the endzone on first down, meaning Wesleyan needed to hold the Bantams without points to force a third extra period. Wesleyan made three big stops on runs for no gain, but again Trinity made good for three points, this time from 42 yards, to seal the win. It was the 10th win in a row for Trinity over Wesleyan.
Bandazian led the defense with nine stops on the day, two of them behind the line. Dwyer had 17 carries for 53 yards while Modera had five catches for 43 yards to pace the offense. Wesleyan closed out the year with a 3-5 mark. Two of its losses came by three points in overtime, leaving the Cardinals just that close to a winning ledger.