Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College football team, which lost for the first time in nearly two years, 28-20, at Amherst, last weekend to drop to a first-place tie with the Mammoths at 7-1, are still alive for a second consecutive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title with a win in the season finale at home against the Wesleyan University Cardinals on Saturday, November 11 at noon. Trinity, coached by Jeff Devanney (12th Season, 82-14), will win the championship for the eighth time with a victory on Saturday combined with a Amherst loss the same day at Williams. Wesleyan and Middlebury, which visits Tufts Saturday, both sit a game behind Trinity and Amherst at 6-2, and the Panthers still have a slim chance to steal the league crown if the four teams tie at 6-2 due to new tiebreaking rules. Trinity has won at least a share of the NESCAC Football Championship title in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2016, going 8-0 in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, and last fall. In 2016, Trinity came back from a 14-0 deficit for a 45-21 win. Senior tri-captain QB Sonny Puzzo (West CAldwell, N.J.) threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third, while junior Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.) booted a field goal and scored a touchdown on a fake one, and senior tri-captain ILB Liam Kenneally (Reading, Mass.) notched 10 tackles, an interception, and a sack for the Bantams. Trinity, which holds a 61-53-1 record in the 115-year history between the teams, is ranked No. 6 in the New England Poll.
Trinity lost for the first time since 2015 at Amherst, ending a streak of 16 victories in a row, despite a valiant comeback in the closing minutes that cut a 21-point deficit to one score. The Bantams managed just one touchdown over the opening 55 minutes of the game on a four-yard scoring toss from senior tri-captain Puzzo to sophomore WR Koby Schofer (Northbridge, Mass.), and trailed, 28-7, until a 14-yard touchdown pass from Puzzo to Schofer with 4:08 left in the game. The PAT was blocked, but junior RB Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.) scored on a three-yard run to give the Bantams one last chance. Amherst recovered the onsides kick, however, and downed Trinity at home for the fifth time in a row. Puzzo threw for 172 yards, including 117 in the second half, with two touchdowns and one interception, while Chipouras totaled 92 yards on 26 carries. Schofer caught a game-high seven passes for 65 yards and senior TE Cliff David (Ambler, Pa.) added four grabs for 60 yards. Kenneally and junior DT Corey Jean-Jacques (Haverhill, Mass.) had nine tackles apiece, while Jean-Jacques added 1.5 sacks. Junior OLB Dago Picon-Roura (Roslindale, Mass.) made seven tackles and three of four tackles by senior DE Brandon Blaise (Morristown, N.J.) resulted in Amherst losses.
Trinity tops the NESCAC in five different categories, including scoring offense (34.6 ppg), scoring defense (10.6 ypg, 7th in nation), pass defense (164.9 ypg), pass efficiency defense (95.4, 11th in nation) and turnover margin (+11). Chipouras leads the league in rushing with 896 yards, while Puzzo ranks third in quarterback efficiency rating at 153.5, and Schofer is third in pass receptions with 49 and fourth in receiving yards with 658 yards. Puzzo has thrown 15 touchdown passes and run for four more, while Chipouras has scored 10 times, and Schofer has a team-high six touchdown catches. On defense, Picon-Roura leads Trinity with 54 tackles (38 solo), while Kenneally has 42 hits, and senior S John Medina (Pinecrest, Fla.) adds 32. Blaise has a team-high 7.5 tackles for loss, while Jean-Jacques paces the Trinity pass rush with three sacks. In the secondary, Medina has 10 passes defensed on two interceptions and eight breakups, while sophomore Matt Patry (Medfield, Mass.) adds nine passes defensed, and senior CB Dominique Seagears (Silver Spring, Md.) has six, including a pair of picks returned for TD's. Sachse has seven field goals and averages 37.3 yards per punt for the Bantam special teams.
The Wesleyan University football squad, under the direction of Head Coach Dan DiCenzo (3rd season, 17-7), is 6-2 this season after a dominating 35-0 win over Williams last weekend. Wesleyan's two losses this season came by a total of seven points on the road at Amherst and Middlebury, and the Cardinals have won two games in a row. Junior QB Mark Piccirillo earned NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week after amassing 341 yards of offense with four touchdowns against the Ephs and has thrown for 2,353 yards, rushed for 433 more, and tossed 20 touchdowns this autumn. Senior WR Mike Breuler has caught a league-best 78 passes for 1,075 yards and 10 touchdowns while junior LB Brandon Morris leads the Cardinal defense with 84 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks.