The Cards took on the Bowdoin Polar Bears on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Andrus Field during family weekend on campus. The Cardinals won by an overwhelming margin, 39-10, increasing their record to 5-1 after a five-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Polar Bears sunk to 0-6.
Wesleyan won the coin toss, but elected to defer to the second half. Bowdoin started off well; the first play of the game went for a 67-yard rush. The drive continued and Bowdoin got as close as the Wesleyan four-yard line, but the defense made a stand there with a sack by Cole Harris ’18, and Wesleyan forced Bowdoin to settle for a field goal.
The next drives saw one first down for each team but ended in punts. On Wesleyan’s second drive of the game, the offense found their rhythm. Mark Piccirillo ’19 threw for 58 of the 64 yards on the drive, capped off by a touchdown pass to Mike Breuler ’17.
After holding Bowdoin to a three and out, the diversity of the offense and the multiple abilities of the offensive players came into view. QB Piccirillo showed off his legs, rushing twice and adding a 20-yard touchdown rush that got called back due to a holding penalty. Gernald Hawkins ’18, also normally a QB, took a carry out of the backfield as well. Unfortunately for the Cards, the drive stalled and they settled for an Ike Fuchs ’17 field goal to push the score to 10-3 in favor of Wesleyan.
“Mark’s done an outstanding job of leading our team and making plays,” Head Coach Dan DiCenzo said. “Devon Carillo, a senior, pretty much does everything for us: receiver, kick returner, punt returner, quarterback, running back. Then there’s Dario Highsmith, who’s had an excellent freshman year. JR, Gernald Hawkins, is one of our best athletes…he’s one of the fastest kids in the league and I think he gives us a great dimension out there.”
The next two drives ended in a punt for each team, turning the end of the first half into a game of field position. At this point, Wesleyan was winning the field position battle. After Wesleyan’s punt pinned Bowdoin to their own nine-yard line, the defense stepped up and forced another three and out. A poor punt and a personal foul on Bowdoin allowed the Cardinals to start their drive at the Bowdoin 22, with 2:45 left in the first half.
Wesleyan quickly capitalized and Piccirillo threw his second touchdown pass of the game to Breuler to push the lead to 17-3. However, with just over a minute and a half left in the first half, the Polar Bears’ offense stepped it up. They quickly drove 72 yards, with 60 yards receiving and a touchdown reception by Bryan Porter, making it a game as the first half ended.
After a punt by each team to start the second half, the Cards got the scoring going again after a three-yard Piccirillo touchdown run. On the next Bowdoin drive, Nate Taylor ’17 made a nice interception and an incredible return, taking the ball back 51 yards to the Bowdoin 28-yard line. From there, the Cards finished off the drive with a Carillo run. Throughout the game, Carillo was a versatile force, taking snaps from the wildcat, out of the backfield and as a receiver.
Another Bowdoin punt was followed by a Wesleyan scoring drive, this time resulting in another Fuchs field goal, led by three Jaylen Berry ’18 rushes. Wesleyan continued to dominate the field position of the game, and after the kickoff the defense had another sack and forced the Polar Bears to punt it from their own six.
The Cardinals started the drive at the Bowdoin 32 and with a combination of Piccirillo passes, Hawkins rushes, and Carillo rushes, Wesleyan again scored, this time with a one-yard Carillo touchdown rush. This pushed the lead to 39-10 and effectively finished the game as the last two drives allowed the last eight minutes of the game to run off the clock.
This was a dominating win for the Cardinals. They had 21 first downs to Bowdoin’s 14, 389 yards to Bowdoin’s 239 and had the better field position all game.
“I was really pleased with how [the defense] played in the second half, they had a bunch of three and outs and I was really pleased with how they came out in that second half,” DiCenzo said.
To go along with that, the defense put pressure on Bowdoin all game. The Cardinals ended up with a total of seven sacks, led by Shayne Kaminski ’17 with two-and-a-half sacks.
“We think we’re pretty athletic, so when we start sending guys we know, it creates problems for the offense,” DiCenzo said. “We did a great job executing and getting to the quarterback.”
Next week, Wesleyan travels to Williams to try and secure their first Little Three championship in three years and to continue the momentum they have gained so far on their five-game winning streak.