The Trinity College football team, which lost its second game in a row for just the first time since 2009, 17-16, at Amherst on Saturday, will close the 2013 season with its Homecoming game against the Wesleyan University Cardinals on Saturday, November 9 at noon.
Head Coach Jeff Devanney (8th season) and the Bantams are looking to extend their winning streak at home to 51 games and to keep undefeated Wesleyan from winning its first-ever outright NESCAC title. Trinity, which has not lost a game on Jessee/Miller Field since September 29, 2001 against Williams (31-10) and has never lost a home game on turf (47-0), is 5-2 this fall. Also Saturday, Trinity will honor the 1993 undefeated Bantams on the 20th anniversary year of their tremendous season. The game will be televised live on CPTV Sports, the first Bantam football game on television since 1999.
Trinity leads the all-time series against Wesleyan, 59-52-1, and has won the last 12 meetings. In last year’s overtime game in Middletown, CB Akeem Labitue (Dorchester, Mass.) stripped the ball from a Wesleyan runner on the first Cardinal possession in overtime to give Trinity the ball, and current senior captain RB Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) scored the game-winning touchdown on the first Bantam overtime possession. Wesleyan is ranked No. 1 and Trinity is No. 8 in the New England Division III Football Poll.
At Amherst, senior QB Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to junior WR Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.) and Bunker added a two-yard scoring rush that pulled the Bantams to within a point at 17-16 with 3:57 left in the game. The Bantams finished with a 420-307 edge in total offense and a 13-plus minute edge in time of possession. Senior RB Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.) finished with a game-high 109 yards, while Bunker had 102 yards on 20 carries, and Puzzo added 44 rushing yards while throwing for 148 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Bunker’s touchdown gave him 26 in his career, passing Gennaro Leo ‘06 for first place on the College’s all-time list. Trinity’s all-time leading rusher with 3,743 career yards, Bunker needs just 75 more to pass Amherst’s Fletcher Ladd as the all-time leader in NESCAC history. Ragone led the Trinity receiving corps with 77 yards, while sophomore P Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) averaged 39.6 yards on eight punts, and rookie Ben Rosenblatt (Newton Center, Mass.) booted a 31-yard field goal.
Defensively, senior OLB Michael Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.) paced the Trinity defense with seven tackles and three tackles for loss, while senior S Brendan Bader (Brookfield, Conn.) had five tackles and an interception. Junior DE Nathan Cyr (Kingston, N.H.) and sophomore LB Frank Leyva (Pinecrest, Fla.) also had five tackles apiece, and Leyva added a sack.
Trinity ranks second in the NESCAC in scoring offense with 31.3 ppg, total offense with 4141 yards per game, pass efficiency with a 136.1 efficiency rating, and pass efficiency defense with a 92.8 opponent rating. The Bantams are also second in the league in turnover margin at +7. Sophomore QB Henry Foye (Madison, Conn.) and Puzzo rank 2-3 in the league in pass efficiency at 137.1 and 136.4, respectively, having completed 107 of 186 attempts for 1,369 yards, 14 touchdowns, and eight interceptions between them under center.
Bunker and Crick are second and fourth, respectively, in the conference in rushing with 95.1 and 76.0 yards per game with nine touchdowns between them, while Ragone is sixth in the league with 430 receiving yards on 23 catches with four touchdowns, and senior WR A.J. Jones (Upper Darby, Pa.) adds 16 catches for 210 yards with four scores. Junior CB Brian Dones (Philadelphia, Pa.) is one of six NESCAC defenders at the top of the conference with three interceptions this fall and adds a team-high six pass breakups, while Cyr is tied for fifth among league pass rushers with four sacks. Junior S Mike Mancini (Rocky Hill, Conn.) and Weatherby have combined for 89 tackles, and Weatherby adds a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss. Pulek is the second-leading punter in the NESCAC with a 39.3 average per attempt and rookie Darrien Myers (North Andover, Mass.) is tied for the league lead in kickoff return average with 24.5 yards per attempt.
The Wesleyan University football squad, under Head Coach Mike Whalen (4th season), is 7-0 for the first time since 1969 after pulling out a 16-14 victory against Williams on Saturday to win the Little Three crown. Wesleyan has enjoyed a dominant season, outscoring its opponents by a combined 233-64 and leading the NESCAC in rushing offense, pass defense, total defense, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense, and turnover margin.
LaDarius Drew and Kyle Gibson have been a lethal rushing combination with 1,251 rushing yards as a tandem, while Jesse Warren is the league’s most efficient passer with a 178.1 rating to go with 1,120 passing yards and 14 touchdowns without an interception. Josh Hurwitz has been the top receiving threat for the Cardinals with 28 grabs for 403 yards. In the Wesleyan secondary, Justin Sanchez has three interceptions and Jake Bussani is the reigning NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week. The Cardinals have clinched at least a share of their first NESCAC title and will win the crown outright with a win Saturday. A Trinity win will allow Amherst and Middlebury to share the league title with wins at Williams and Tufts, respectively, on Saturday.