Football Leads Undefeated Trinity a Majority of the Game but Bantams Find a Way to Win Season Finale in OT, 30-24
Rallying in the fourth quarter for the second straight week to come away with a victory, Trinity College wrapped up its fifth undefeated campaign since 2003 with a 30-24 overtime win over Wesleyan in season-ending football action for both teams Sat., Nov. 10. With the win, Trinity secured an outright NESCAC title, just ahead of Middlebury, which posted a 7-1 record with its only loss coming to Trinity. Last week, Trinity came back from a 20-12 deficit entering the fourth quarter to knock off Amherst, 32-20. Wesleyan finished with a 5-3 mark for the year.
Trinity got a 14-yard run on a QB draw play with :17 left in regulation to get within a point and added the extra point, despite a low snap, to knot the score at 24-24. Wesleyan had first possession in overtime and was driving nicely behind the running of LaDarius Drew '15 (#14, main photo), who ended the game with 30 carries for 103 yards. But Drew was stripped of the ball at the five-yard line and Trinity came up with the recovery to hold Wesleyan without a point. The Bantams finished the game much as they started as Evan Bunker, the top rusher in the NESCAC, bolted over the right side to the endzone on Trinity's first play in overtime to cap the Bantams' unblemished season. Bunker collected 139 rushing yards on 22 attempts to pace Trinity's ground game, which entered the game averaging 300 yards but was held to 142 yards by the Cardinals. Wesleyan rushed for 184 yards on the day to outpace its visitor.
Trinity attacked through the air on its opening play from scrimmage in the contest, connecting for an 86-yard TD just 2:22 into the game. Wesleyan scored the next 10 points to take a 10-7 lead with 12:44 left in the second period. A 33-yard connection from QB Jesse Warren '15 to Teddy Baker '14 (#88, photo lower left) on a 4th-and-2 play-action pass tied the game at 4:59 of the first quarter. A 35-yard field goal by Sebastian Aguirre '14 spotted Wesleyan a three-point lead. It took Trinity just 1:21 to regain the lead on a counter pass with the motion to the right and the throw going back to the left, caught at the 20, and turned upfield to find the endzone for a 14-10 Trinity lead.
Wesleyan regained the edge at 6:08 of the second quarter when Kyle Gibson '15, who had 21 runs for 69 yards, fought his way to the goal line from six yards out to finish off a 12-play, 67-yard march that consumed 5:09. The teams went scoreless for just over 25 minutes before a 38-yard Bantam field goal evened the score at 17-17 with 11:02 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.
Wesleyan again went on a long scoring drive, moving 50 yards, set up by a 43-yard Donnie Cimino '15 kickoff return, on 12 plays, the biggest one of which was a leaping 25-yard catch by Rob Manning '16 at the Trinity 27 on a 3rd-and-23 play. Drew went on to score from a yard away to spot the home team a 24-17 advantage with 4:13 to go, putting the finishing touches on the 6:42 scoring series.
When Andy McKeon '13 forced a Bunker fumble that was recovered by Cardinal Nik Powers '15 at the Trinity 49 with 3:11 to play, things looked promising for a Wesleyan upset. But the Bantams forced a punt and started their tying drive of 78 yards on 12 plays with just 1:54 on the clock.
Wesleyan owned an 11-minute edge in time of possession, running 78 offensive plays to 59 by Trinity. Wesleyan was led defensively by Prince Emenalo '13 (#23, photo upper left) with nine stops, two of them sacks as Wesleyan took the Bantam QB down five times behind the line. Wesleyan did not suffer a sack in the contest.
It was the second overtime game in the 112 meetings of the two teams. The first came three years ago in Hartford as the Bantams escaped with a 26-23 double-overtime win decided by a 42-yard field goal.