The Wesleyan football team is on a roll, having won three straight games, with each victory more definitive and dominant than the last. This week they beat the Colby Mules 41-7, scoring six touchdowns, producing over 550 yards of total offense, and forcing Colby to punt eight times. The Red and Black were able to keep up a consistent running game to complement the dynamic passing skills of Mark Piccirillo ’19, all the while not allowing a single sack and only three tackles for a loss. On defense, the team produced an interception and three sacks, stifling any offensive progress for the vast majority of the game. Though Colby didn’t put up much of a fight, hopefully, the Cards’ smashing victory will help build momentum for later in the season, where they face more challenging opponents.
After a quick punt from Colby which was downed on the one-yard line, the Mules took advantage of their superior field position and took their first score of the day, embracing a 7-0 lead. However, the rest of the first quarter was much slower and uneventful, as both teams struggled to gain momentum on offense. Both Wesleyan and Colby took punts on three of the next four downs, the exception being a fumble by Dario Highsmith ’20.
Yet the tide began to change in the final minutes of the first quarter when Piccirillo completed back-to-back passes on the first scoring drive of the game for Wesleyan. The Cardinal defense was then able to force a quick three and out from Colby, which would lead to another scoring drive from Wesleyan, giving them a lead they would keep for the rest of the game. But thanks to an unfortunate interception thrown by Piccirillo and little time left on the clock, the Cardinals were unable to score again in the first half. However, the defense made sure there was no scoring on the other end either, keeping Colby off the field and picking off their quarterback to finish the first half strong.
The third quarter started well for Wesleyan, as they were able to force back-to-back punts from the stagnant Colby offense. The Cards continued to push forward, producing two passing touchdowns from Piccirillo to Highsmith and Mike Breuler ’18, who caught two touchdowns and had over 200 yards receiving on the day. Colby seemed to be putting together a strong drive to finish off the quarter, getting to the Wesleyan 25-yard line, but they failed to convert a 3rd down and long at the beginning of the fourth quarter. However, despite the Mules’ offensive struggles, the Cardinals had no problem producing on offense, scoring another touchdown on their next drive, upping the score to 34-7, after Colby’s successful effort to block the extra point.
The rest of the quarter continued along a similar path. Colby failed to score or generate much of anything on offense while Wesleyan put their bench players on the field. This less-experienced squad showed its worth as quarterback Nick Goodwin ’20 connected with Joe Scancarella ’21 to raise the score one final time, ending with a 41-7 victory.
This has been one of the strongest games of this year’s season, as the Cards allowed only one score while scoring six touchdowns themselves. All sides of the team seemed to dominate: The offense gave up fewer turnovers, the defense shut out Colby for three quarters, and the whole team improved on the penalties that had held them back the last two weeks.
Hopefully, Highsmith will be able to fulfill his potential that flashed last week against Hamilton, but in the meantime, Piccirillo has been a strong runner that has helped the team’s potent passing game. Yet the true MVP this week was Breuler, who had 200 receiving yards plus two touchdowns (and almost another before it was called back for pass interference). On defense, Ben Thaw ’20 snatched his third interception in three weeks. Overall, the defensive unit played particularly well; the Cards are close the reviving the top defense of last year’s squad.
Next week the Red and Black sizes up against Bates College, who are still winless and have struggled heavily in every match, losing by a margin of at least 20 points in each game. Perhaps the Cardinals’ winning is poised to continue in Middletown.
Jacques Slaughter can be reached at email@example.com.