Building a 13-0 lead in the third quarter and getting some key plays down the stretch late in the fourth quarter, Wesleyan came through with a 16-14 Homecoming victory over Williams Sat., Nov. 2. Coupled with the Cardinals' 20-14 triumph at Amherst Oct. 19, Wesleyan secured its first outright Little Three football title since 1970 and clinched at least a tie for the 2013 NESCAC crown. Wesleyan head coach Mike Whalen (photo bottom middle) had much to celebrate in his fourth season at the helm.
Highlights in the game included three field goals by Sebastian Aguirre '94 of 35, 31 and 22 yards as well as his extra point accounting for 10 of the team's 16 points; a huge interception by Jake Bussani '14 (#1, photo bottom left) at the Williams' 46-yard line with 2:43 left; and the running of Kyle Gibson '15 (#24, photo bottom right), including a big first-down run on 3rd-and-1 at the Williams' 37 with 1:43 on the clock. That gave Wesleyan a chance to run out the clock with three kneel-downs.
Wesleyan got its lone TD from LaDarius Drew '15 on a four-yard run at 12:33 of the second period, helping Wesleyan to a 10-0 halftime lead. That run came after the Wesleyan defense, led by Bussani with nine tackles, a fourced fumble, a blocked field goal and a pair of pass breakups in addition to his interception, held the Ephs deep in their own end, forcing a punt. Donnie Cimino '15 raced up the right side with the return, covering 26 yards to the four. For his tremendous effort during the contest, Bussani was honored by the NESCAC as co-Defensive Player of the Week
Also coming through for the Cardinals on defense were Jordan Otis '14 with eight tackles, including 3.5 for a loss as Wesleyan made eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage and Cimino, who also had eight stops.
Wesleyan outgained Williams, 293-177, and gained points from each of its four trips in the red zone during the game. Aguirre's field goals came at 8:10 of the first period, 10:46 of the third and 4:49 of the fourth. Williams got its two TDs at 14:55 of the fourth quarter, making it a 13-7 game, and 3:52 of the fourth, cutting the margin to 16-14. When Wesleyan punted, giving Williams the ball at its 23 with 3:04 left, Bussani picked off a Williams pass with the QB under a heavy rush by Nik Powers '15. The Cardinals then gained the vital first down to wrap up the triumph, ending a 13-game losing streak vs. Williams dating back to 1999.
Wesleyan, now 7-0 on the year for the first time since 1969, can complete its first undefeated season in 44 years Sat., Nov. 9 at Trinity, equaling the effort of the '69 squad. Trinity brings a 50-game home unbeaten streak into the meeting.