The Cardinals traveled to Williamstown, Mass. to take on Williams this past Saturday. The Cards came away with a dominating win, 59-14, to clinch the Little Three Championship after defeating Amherst earlier in the season. The win over their historic rivals meant a lot to the Cardinals.
“Winning the Little Three means a lot to me and the rest of the guys on the team,” Mike Breuler ’18 said. “We are glad to be part of school history and create new tradition for future classes to follow. This was my first Little Three win and beating Amherst and Williams only fuels us to finish out the season on a strong note and play to the best of our ability.”
The Cardinals were led by Mark Piccirillo ’19, who was named NESCAC offensive player of the week after completing 14-19 passes for 288 yards and five touchdowns. He added six rushes for 66 yards and another score this game.
“The main thing for the success through the air was putting in the time to know where to go with the ball in each situation and working on that every day in practice, getting the timing down and trusting my receivers,” Piccirillo said following the contest.
While Piccirillo was lauded for his outstanding performance, another workhorse that day was Breuler. He tallied four receptions for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Piccirillo did not target Breuler exclusively, however. Ten different receivers caught at least one pass in the game.
The Cardinals did nearly all of their damage in the first half, scoring 56 points in the first 30 minutes of the game. The only second-half scoring by either team was a 38-yard field gold by Ike Fuchs ’17 in the fourth quarter.
The first three drives for Williams were not fruitful. Two three-and-outs preceded a fumble that Wesleyan recovered. The Cardinals scored touchdowns off these defensive stops. After a Williams’ touchdown, the Cardinal attack got right back on track with another score. The next drive for Williams ended in a missed field goal, and Wesleyan built on their lead again with a Piccirillo touchdown run.
The following drive for the Ephs ended in an interception by Elias Camacho ’17. Though the next Wesleyan drive ended in a punt, the defense got right back to making plays and forced their third turnover of the game with another fumble that was successfully recovered on the Williams 13-yard line, giving the offense a great starting field position yet again. Devon Carrillo ’18 capped off the short drive with his second touchdown rush of the day, increasing the Cardinals’ lead to 42-7 with 6:30 left in the first half.
Williams scored their second touchdown of the game on their next drive, but Piccirillo and Wesleyan answered right back. Four straight completions to Carrillo brought the Cards the length of the field, and the team capped off the drive with another touchdown. With just under a minute left in the first half, Williams fumbled for the third time in the game, and Wesleyan again took over with a short field. Piccirillo immediately capitalized, throwing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Breuler for his third touchdown reception of the game.
Breuler credited chemistry and hard work for his success on Saturday.
“My chemistry with Mark Piccirillo is easily characterized by our friendship outside of football,” he said. “I am also a Connecticut guy, and during the summer Mark and I find ourselves throwing footballs and training most of the time together. In our off time just as friends do, we eat, hangout, and see each other most of the day. This chemistry doesn’t surprise me because it is something we have been working towards the past two seasons. The key to my big day is working every day in practice. Having the best defensive backs in the conference to go up against every day. Especially having a great scout defense with some of the younger guys to push us to get better every day.”
The second half was run-heavy and featured two missed field goals by Fuchs.
The Cardinals totaled over 500 yards of offense in the game and the defense forced a total of five turnovers on the day: four fumble recoveries and one interception. Individually on defense, the Cards were led by Shayne Kaminski ’18 with seven tackles.
Next week marks the conclusion of the football season for the Cardinals. They take on Trinity at Andrus Field with a chance to finish the season on a seven-game winning streak and to take a share of the conference championship.
Breuler is confident that the season will end on a positive note.
“I am extremely excited for this last game with Trinity,” he said. “It is great that it is home and on our own field. The home crowd advantage will definitely play a role in winning this game, so everybody should come support.”