Hartford, Conn. – Sophomore QB Ashton Scott (Brockport, N.Y.) threw for 306 yards to lead the visiting Wesleyan University Cardinals to a 28-20 victory over the Trinity College Bantams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football season finale for both teams this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field. Trinity closes the year at 5-4 with its first home loss to Wesleyan since 1998. The Cardinals close at 8-1 with their third consecutive victory. Trinity senior QB Jordan Vazzano (Trumbull, Conn.) came off the bench to throw for 195 yards and three touchdowns in the second half to help the Bantams nearly come back from a 21-0 deficit in the third quarter.
Wesleyan led, 14-0, after one quarter thanks to a pair of one-yard touchdown plunges by junior RB Sean Penney (Simsbury, Conn.). Scott connected with junior WR Delando Clarke (Hartford, Conn.) on a 33-yard pass during the first scoring drive and a 25-yarder on the second scoring drive. Trinity marched to the Wesleyan 13-yard line on the first drive of the second quarter on a 20-yard pass from sophomore QB Seamus Lambert (North Andover, Mass.) to senior tri-captain WR Koby Schofer (Northbridge, Mass.) and two 15-yard Wesleyan penalties, but turned the ball over on downs.
Cardinal senior captain Ben Thaw (Westport, Conn.) intercepted a pass in his own end to thwart another Trinity drive before the half, and the Bantams failed to capitalize on a Wesleyan turnover later in the second frame. Trinity junior S Matt McCarthy (North Reading, Mass.) forced a fumble at the Cardinal 29-yard line that was recovered by senior S Matt Patry (Medfield, Mass.), but Lambert was sacked on two of the next four plays by Wesleyan’s John Lewis (Nutley, N.J.) and Nick Helbig (Groton, Conn.).
Wesleyan went ahead, 21-0, with a 10-play, 66-yard drive early in the third quarter. The Bantams actually blocked a Wesleyan field goal try during the drive, but were called for a penalty on the play. The Cardinals took advantage with an 11-yard scoring scamper by sophomore David Estevez (River Edge, N.J.) on the next play from scrimmage. Trinity answered quickly, beginning with its first points on a 21-yard scoring strike from Vazzano to junior WR Jonathan Girard (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) with 5:35 left in the third quarter. Vazzano hit Girard for a 71-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth stanza, but Thaw blocked the PAT to make the score, 21-13, with 11:58 left to play.
Wesleyan junior RB Glenn Smith (Roxbury, Mass.) broke free on a third-down run up the middle for a 47-yard touchdown to put the visitors back up by 15 with 8:20 on the clock, but the Bantams responded again with a 29-yard touchdown toss up the middle from Vazzano to senior TE Joe Samuelman (North Andover, Mass.) at the six-minute mark. Trinity got the ball back with 3:25 remaining and drove into Cardinal territory, but a Vazzano pass bounced off a Bantam receiver and into Thaw’s hands to secure the Wesleyan victory.
Wesleyan outgained the Bantams, 350-244, and held the ball for 36:16 of the game. Lambert, who completed three of 11 passes in the first half, combined for 244 passing yards, while Scott and Estevez threw for 350 yards between them. Girard caught four passes for 124 yards and Schofer added three grabs for 82 yards. Wesleyan sophomore WR Matt Simco (Hollis, N.H.) led all receivers with seven receptions for 133 yards, while Clarke added four catches for 80 yards. Smith rushed for a game-high 72 yards on 12 carries, and sophomore RB Tijani Harris (Hagerstown, Md.) had 15 rushes for a team-high 44 yards for the Bantams.
Defensively, Helbig totaled seven tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 of Wesleyan’s six sacks. Thaw added five tackles and a pass breakup to his two picks and blocked kick, while junior DL Babilo Fomuteh (Dacula, Ga.) contributed six tackles and one sack for Wesleyan. Sophomore Brian Casagrande (Madison, Conn.) and Aidan Kennedy (East Longmeadow, Mass.) paced the Bantams with eight tackles apiece, while senior LB Sean Smerczynski (Topsfield, Mass.) collected seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. Trinity senior Ian McDonald (Avon, Conn.) was stellar punting with a 44-yard average on five attempts.