Seniors Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) and Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.) rumbled for 263 rushing yards and scored the game's first two touchdowns to lead the Trinity College Bantams to their 50th consecutive victory at home, 40-21, over the visiting Bowdoin College Polar Bears in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field.
Trinity, ranked No. 1 in New England, improves to 5-0, while the Polar Bears drop to 2-3 with their first defeat in three weekends. Trinity last lost at home in 2001 to Williams, 31-10. With its 14th win in a row and its 15th consecutive triumph against Bowdoin, the 2012 NESCAC Champion Bantams improve to 35-6-2 all-time against the Polar Bears and keep pace with Wesleyan for first place in the league at 5-0.
After a scoreless first quarter that included drive-stopping interceptions by Bowdoin junior DB Dan Johnson (North Attleboro, Mass.) and Trinity junior CB Brian Dones (Philadelphia, Pa.), Crick broke free on a first-down run for a 49-yard scoring scamper to give the Bantams a 7-0 lead with 14:25 left in the second frame. A three-yard run by Bunker, who took a direct snap on a fake punt on 4th-and-1, immediately preceded the touchdown run. After the third of eight Polar Bear punts in the game, Trinity went 75 yards in nine plays for its second-straight scoring drive. A 26-yard run by Bunker pushed the ball into Polar Bear territory, and he finished the job with a six-yard touchdown run up the middle.
Bowdoin got on the board with 6:16 left in the second quarter, as freshman LB Harrison Carmichael (North Attleboro, Mass.) forced a Bunker fumble in the Trinity backfield and senior LB Brian Glazewski (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.) recovered the ball for the defense to set up a 17-yard scoring pass from junior QB Mac Caputi (Brunswick, Maine) to sophomore WR Daniel Barone (Holliston, Mass.).
Trinity first-year Darrien Myers (North Andover, Mass.) returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards, and Trinity rookie QB Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) found classmate Nick Gaynor (West Hartford, Conn.) five plays later for a nine-yard touchdown and a 21-7 Bantam lead. The Trinity defense again forced a quick punt, thanks to a 10-yard sack by freshman DB Yosa Nosamiefan (Westport, Conn.), and sophomore Ian Dugger (West Hartford, Conn.) returned it 26 yards for the Bantams to the Bowdoin 37-yard line. Puzzo connected with junior WR Adrian Johnson (Philadelphia, Pa.) on a 20-yard touchdown toss, but the extra-point was blocked by Polar Bear junior Jon Fraser (Marshfield, Mass.) for a 27-7 Trinity lead at the half.
A big play by the Bowdoin defense in the third quarter brought the visitors within two scores when Glazewski forced a Puzzo fumble and the ball squirted backward several yards before junior DL Peter Yasi (Swampscott, Mass.) grabbed it and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Once again, Trinity quickly took back the momentum, as Puzzo rushed for nine yards on first down, completed a 26-yard pass to junior WR Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.) on the next play, and found Ragone from 18 yards out for his third touchdown pass of the game moments later to push the Bantam lead up to 34-14 with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
The Bantam defense stopped Bowdoin on four plays from their own five-yard line, after an interception and 22-yard return by Polar Bear senior DB Matt Savard (Duxbury, Mass.), as junior ILB Rob Gau (Westport, Conn.) tackled Bowdoin senior RB Zach Donnarumma (Ramsey, N.J.) for an eight-yard loss to push the ball back to the Trinity 10-yard line on third down and Dones broke up a Caputi pass in the end zone on 4th-and-goal. After taking over, Trinity went 90 yards in 11 plays and finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run by Puzzo. Freshman RB Tyler Grant (Stratham, N.H.) added a late Polar Bear score to account for a 40-21 final tally.
Trinity totaled 302 rushing yards, averaged 5.5 yards on 55 carries, and controlled possession for 35:39 of the game. Bunker had 154 yards on 25 carries and passed Colby's Aaron Stepka on the all-time NESCAC rushing list with 3,613 in his career, while Crick ran 10 times for 109 yards. Puzzo finished 14-for-20 for 181 yards passing, and Ragone caught five passes for a game-high 88 yards.
Grant led Bowdoin with 75 rushing yards on 14 attempts, and Caputi was 11-for-28 for 91 yards through the air. Junior S Mike Mancini (Rocky Hill, Conn.) was the top Trinity tackler with six, while senior OLB Mike Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.) had five hits and one tackle for loss, and junior DE Nathan Cyr (Kingston, N.H.) added a pair of sacks. Bowdoin senior LB Joey Cleary (Winchester, Mass.) led all defenders with 14 tackles (11 solo) and added one tackle for loss, while Glazewski finished with 10 tackles, two sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery for the Polar Bears.
Photo: Captain Evan Bunker '14 moved into second place on the NESCAC all-time rushing list.