Hartford, Conn., Nov. 7, 2012 – The Trinity College football team, which scored 20 fourth-quarter points to defeat Amherst, 32-20, last weekend and maintain sole possession of first place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) at 7-0, will complete the 2012 season at the Wesleyan University Cardinals on Saturday, November 3 at noon. Trinity, coached by Jeff Devanney (7th Season, 48-7), is looking to extend its 12-game winning streak against the Cardinals and win its ninth straight game overall. The Bantams clinched a share of their seventh NESCAC crown last weekend, but will win the title outright with a win at Wesleyan or a loss by 6-1 Middlebury against winless Tufts on Saturday. Trinity, which posted a 45-7 win against Middlebury on October 27, won at least a share of the NESCAC Football Championship title in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2012. Last fall in Hartford, junior RB Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.) returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown, and the Bantam defense held Wesleyan to 107 yards in a 27-0 Bantam victory. Trinity, which holds a 58-52-1 record in the 111-year history between the teams, is ranked No. 1 in the New England Poll and No. 6 in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll, while 5-2 Wesleyan is ranked No. 9 in New England.
Junior RB Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns and senior tri-captain S Rae Haynes (Hartford, Conn.) scored the go-ahead score on a 40-yard interception return in the fourth quarter against Amherst, as Trinity turned a 20-12 deficit into a 32-20 victory and won its nation-best 47th straight, regular-season home game. Bunker had a pair of one-yard touchdown runs, while Burgess found sophomore RB Michael Budness (Belchertown, Mass.) on a 26-yard scoring toss. Burgess finished 11-for-22 for 125 yards, including three passes for a team-high 51 yards to senior WR Drew Grombala (Cincinnati, Ohio), and senior K Tim Costello (Solana Beach, Calif.) connected on field goals of 22 and 30 yards. First-year P Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) played a major role with six punts for an average of 44.5 yards per attempt including two inside the Amherst 20-yard line. In additon to his game-winning interception and return, Haynes also totaled seven tackles and broke up a pass at his own goal line and was rewarded with both the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Northeast Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Junior CB Akeem Labitue (Dorchester, Mass.) had a team-high 11 tackles, and sophomore DE Lyle Baker (Andover, Mass.) notched five tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
Trinity leads the NESCAC in total offense (475.6 ypg, 19th in nation), scoring offense (35.9 ppg), rushing offense (300.9 ypg, 5th in nation) and pass efficiency (153.9 eff.), and tops the league in pass defense (142.1 ypg, 7th in nation), pass efficiency defense (79.6 eff., 4th in nation), scoring defense (12.4 ppg, 8th in nation), and total defense (249.3 ypg, 9th in nation). Bunker is the conference's top rusher with 1,136 yards (162.3 per game, 3rd in nation), 486 yards more than the No. 2 rusher, and ranks second in all-purpose yards with 1,273 (11th in nation) to go with 10 touchdowns, while Crick ranks fourth on the rushing list with 531 yards (75.9 per game) on the ground and sixth in all-purpose yards with 850 (121.4 per game). Burgess leads the NESCAC signal callers with a 161.4 efficiency rating (20th in nation), having completed 75 of 123 attempts for 1,165 yards (4th in NESCAC) with 14 touchdowns and just three picks. Grombala leads the Trinity pass catchers with 17 receptions for 241 yards, while junior WR A.J. Jones (Freetown, Sierra Leone) ranks 10th in the conference with 275 receiving yards on 11 grabs. The Bantam offensive line, led by senior tri-captain G Mike Valenti (Bethel, Conn.), senior tri-captain C Andrew Weiss (New York, N.Y.), senior G Gino Arnold (Ridgewood, N.J.), and sophomore T Joe Magardino (Chappaqua, N.Y.), has helped Trinity ball carriers average 5.6 yards per carry while yielding just nine sacks. Sophomore LB Tom Szymanski (Dracut, Mass.) has a team-high 39 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss, while Haynes has 35 hits, five pass breakups, and three interceptions (T7th in NESCAC), and junior LB Steve Goniprow (Barrington, R.I.) adds a team-high three sacks (T5th in NESCAC). Pulek is the leading punter in the league with an average of 38.7 per boot.
The Wesleyan University football squad, under the direction of Head Coach Michael Whalen (3rd season), is enjoying its finest season in recent memory having clinched a winning record two weekends ago with a 34-14 win over Bowdoin before falling out of contention for a share of the league title with its 19-7 loss at Williams on Saturday. Sophomore RB Kyle Gibson ranks second in the league behind Bunker with 650 rushing yards, while classmate Jesse Warren is the second-leading passer in the NESCAC with 190.4 yards to go with 10 touchdowns but also has nine interceptions. Junior Kevin Hughes and Jay Fabien have combined for 61 catches over