Middletown, CT – Wesleyan placekicker Sebastian Aguirre converted a 22-yard field goal with 4:49 to play in the fourth quarter to provide the deciding points in a 16-14 win over Williams.
Wesleyan (7-0) led 13-7 when Aguirre made the field goal, but those three points were needed when Williams (2-5) scored a touchdown with 3:52 left to narrow the score to 16-14.
Williams secured possession of the ball after stopping Wesleyan on downs. Taking over on their own 23-yard line the Ephs were victimized by an interception when the Cardinals' Jake Busani intercepted Mark Pomella's pass at the Ephs 46.
The drive that set up the Aguirre field goal started at the Wesleyan 20-yard line, where junior QB Jesse Warren looked deep and found junior WR Josh Hurwitz for a 37-yard pass to move the Cardinals into Ephs territory.
Junior RB LaDarius Drew had an 11-yard rush on the drive that put the Cardinals on the Eph 12-yard line. The Eph defense was able to hold the Wesleyan offense and force them to attempt the 22-yard field goal.
The series between these two teams began in 1881, marking the start of the Williams College football program. The Ephs were on a 13-game win streak versus the Cardinals and are now 23-3 in the two teams last 26 meetings. With today's win, the Wesleyan Cardinals won the Little Three title outright for the first time since 1970. The Little Three conference is the nation's oldest continuous football conference competition without membership change it began in 1910 and includes Williams, Wesleyan, and Amherst.
Wesleyan put the first points of the game on the board with a 49-yard drive that began at their own 30-yard line. Warren completed a 17-yard pass to Senior WR Kevin Hughes and then a 23-yard pass to junior TE Jonathan Day. After a series of incomplete passes on the drive, Aguirre entered the game for a 35-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good putting the Cardinals ahead 3-0 with 8:10 left on the clock in the first quarter.
At 12:33 in the second quarter, Drew scored the first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard rush after a 26-yard punt return by Junior DB Donnie Cimino. Aguirre's PAT was good putting the Cardinals ahead 10-0.
Eph senior punter Joe Mallock launched a 58-yard kickoff to open the third quarter. Wesleyan freshman DB Justin Sanchez was hit by Eph junior WR Mike Williams on the return and Sanchez fumbled the ball. However, Wesleyan was able to recover the ball for on their own 39. Warren was able to bust open the drive with a long 47-yard pass to junior WR Jay Fabien. Aguirre came on to kick a 31-yard field goal to finish the drive making the score 13-0 Wesleyan.
The Ephs kept battling and finally got some offense going. Starting at his own 45, sophomore QB Mark Pomella was able to put a scoring drive together that included a 16-yard pass completion to sophomore WR Darrias Sime to put the Ephs in Cardinal territory. Pomella also rushed for a total of 13 yards on the drive and had an 8-yard pass completion to sophomore TE Alex Way.
At 14:55 in the fourth quarter, senior RB Marco Hernandez rushed for 2 yards to give the Ephs their first touchdown of the game. Mallock's PAT was good decreasing the deficit to just 6 points, 13-7.
The Ephs did not give up and at 3:52 in the fourth quarter, they put seven more points on the board on a quick drive that started on the Williams 35 with 4:49 left on the clock. Pomella had a 10-yard pass completion to senior WR Greg Payton, a 13-yard pass completion to Way, and a 14-yard pass completion to junior WR Steven Kiesel. Senior RB Kristian LaPointe also rushed for 9 yards on the drive. Senior RB Alex Sycourka. finished the drive by rushing up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown with 3:52 left on the clock. Mallock's kick attempt was good making the score 16-14.
For his first complete game Pomella went 19 for 30 with 2 interceptions and 121 yards passing. Eph head coach Aaron Kelton made special note of Pomella's performance noting "it's tough to come in as a sophomore, but he played well for his first game. Our team kept battling and I'm proud of my guys for that."
Sycourka had 49 rushing yards on 19 attempts, while Hernandez had 56 yards on 3 kick returns. Way had 26 receiving yards on 3 catches, while Payton had 23 receiving yards on 3 receptions.
Senior DB Nathan Saffold led the Eph defense with 12 total tackles with 6 solo and 6 assisted tackles. Sophomore LB James O'Grady also had 10 total tackles for the day with 3 solo and 7 assisted tackles.
Coach Kelton commented on next week's homecoming game versus Amherst saying "its full of emotion. This is the reason why kids choose to come to this school -- for this rivalry. Everyone is excited for this game and ready to go out there and win."
The Ephs will host the Amherst Lord Jeffs next Saturday in the 128th meeting in "The Biggest Little Game in America" at 12:00pm on Weston Field.
The game will be the 525th game played on the grass surface of Weston Field as in 2014 the Ephs will be playing on an artificial surface.