Cards Get Second Season Win: Wesleyan Beats Hamilton 34-14
For the first time since the 2004 season, Wesleyan football is off to a 2-0 start after defeating the Hamilton Continentals on Saturday, 34-14. Other than the gloomy weather over Andrus Field, the home opener could not have gone any better for the Cardinals, as they maintained ball control and dominated on both sides of the field for the second week in a row.
Despite the high final score, Wesleyan’s week two matchup was shaping up to be anything but a barnburner in the first quarter. Both teams committed to the run and plodded down the field, practically refusing to stage any sort of aerial attack on the opposing defense. With LaDarius Drew ’15 out of the lineup for the Cards, Kyle Gibson ’15 got the start as running back. After compiling 100 yards in the opener against Tufts, Gibson continued to be a force on the ground as he gained 45 yards on the opening series. However, neither the Cardinals nor the Continentals could produce anything of effect in the first quarter, as both defenses kept each other in check, leading to a scoreless draw through one frame.
The second quarter was more of the same, as both teams continued to keep the ball on the ground. Although they did not make any significant plays in their first offensive possession, the Continentals attacked the Wesleyan defense with a series of quarterback options that resulted in small but effective gains. Quarterback Jeff Hopsicker eventually led the Continentals down to the Wesleyan 35-yard line before connecting with tight end Kevin Petrick ’13 for a 35-yard score. Wesleyan wound up with a pair of field goals by the end of the second quarter, including a 22-yard try that was set up in the final minute before half-time by an impressive 65-yard drive led by quarterback Jesse Warren ’15.
Fueled by the momentum of their dramatic last-minute drive, the Cardinals exploded out of the gates in the third quarter and completely took over the football game. The Wesleyan defense forced the Continentals into a pair of three-and-outs on their first two possessions. This set things up for a Cardinal’s offense that was essentially the “Kyle Gibson Show” in the second half. After totaling 94 rushing yards in the first half, Gibson took off in the second half for 150 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The touchdown came on a two-yard goal line carry with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter and put Wesleyan up 13-6. In place of the injured Drew, Gibson finished the day with 244 yards, a mere 11 shy of the school’s single game record. With this impressive performance Gibson is likely due for at least a timeshare at running back moving forward.
“I just try to do my job and help the team win,” Gibson said following the win.
“We have a great stable of running backs, so anyone can fill in at any time and produce.” Gibson said, giving credit to the offensive line on Saturday. “The offensive line did a great job all day. Hamilton stints a lot and the o-line did a great job adjusting, helping me get to the second and third levels of the defense.”
Jesse Warren ’15 also scored on a four-yard scramble with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to give Wesleyan a 20-7 lead heading into the final frame. On the Cardinals’ first possession of the fourth quarter, Warren connected with tight end Kevin Hughes ’14 on a 29-yard post pattern that split the Hamilton secondary for a touchdown to increase the lead to 27-7. Despite allowing a touchdown on the following possession, the Cardinals all but put the game away after Gibson broke a 67-yard run down to the Hamilton five-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Gibson’s effort set up Warren’s three-yard touchdown pass to running back John Vassar ’16 with 4:39 remaining on the clock, which expanded the Cardinal lead to 34-14. Warren finished the game 16 for 25 with 156 passing yards and two touchdowns throws to go along with his rushing score.
The Cardinals got the ball back one more time with 3:37 left in the game, allowing second-string quarterback Peter George ’15 to come in and make a series of hand-offs to Johnny “Tsunami” Kuhn ’15 and Te’Rhon O’Neal ’13, before taking a knee to seal the 34-14 win for the Cardinals.
Wesleyan football heads to Maine next weekend where they will look to improve their record to 3-0 against the Colby Mules.