By JT Mehr ’16
This past Saturday, Trinity football ended their season with its best performance to date. The team had a convincing, 40-10 victory, to snap the Wesleyan Cardinal’s undefeated record in front of the many alumni, family and friends visiting for homecoming weekend. With a cumulative record of 6-2, Trinity finished the season second in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), behind only Amherst, Middlebury and Wesleyan, who ended the year with a three-way tie for first and share of the NESCAC title.
The Bantams appeared to be clicking on all cylinders during Saturday’s game. Most notably, they effectively ran the ball on offense all throughout. The running back tandem of captain Evan Bunker ’14 and Ben Crick ’14 was impressive yet again; Crick ran for 103 yards and also added a touchdown to top it off, while Bunker rushed for 85 yards, respectively. Bunkers performance not only helped lead the Bantams to victory, but he became the NESCAC’s all time leading rusher, ending his career on a high note with 3,828 yards. Bunker and Crick will be missed by the Bantams come next fall, but junior running backs Chudi Iregbulem, Michael Budness and Jacob Rivers look to fill their shoes.
The Bantams were the team to put points on the board first against Wesleyan. On their second drive of the game, quarterback Sonny Puzzo ’17 led the Bantams down the field for a touchdown, capping the drive off with a three yard touchdown pass, on 3rd down, to senior wide out Eddy Franca. The Bantams picked up the pace even more after their second possession, scoring another touchdown on their third drive, via a 13-yard rushing touchdown from Ben Crick ’14. This gave the Bantams a 13-0 lead midway through the first quarter, and they never looked back.
Towards the end of the second quarter, with the Bantams leading 16-3, junior Linebacker Rob Gau deflected a pass from Wesleyan Quarterback Jesse Warren, which was intercepted by fellow Linebacker Frank Leyva ’16 and returned to the 20-yard line of Wesleyan. This interception by Leyva allowed Sonny Puzzo ’17 to score a touchdown on a flee-flicker pass from running back Evan Bunker ’14, and gave Trinity a 23-3 lead at halftime.
The Bantams were the first to score, again, in the second half, by a field goal from kicker Ben Rosenblatt ’17 midway through the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, the Bantams defense stopped the Cardinals on 4th and 3, resulting in a turnover on downs and possession for Trinity. In the preceding drive for the Bantams, Sonny Puzzo ’17 threw a 31-yard bullet to A.J. Jones ’14, increasing the lead to 33-3. Wesleyan bounced back on a 45-yard touchdown pass with 8:17 remaining in the game, making the score 33-10. The Cardinals were driving down the field yet again in the last two minutes, but quarterback Jesse Warren threw a pass that was intercepted by safety Casey Tanner ’15, and was returned for a touchdown. This capped off the 40-10 victory for the Bantams.
The Trinity defense played its best game of the season against Wesleyan. The Cardinals quarterback Jesse Warren was intercepted three times by three different Bantam defenders (Brendan Bader ’14, Frank Leyva ’16 and Casey Tanner ’15). Furthermore, the Bantams held Wesleyan to a season low 99 rushing yards, and season low total of 270 yards total.
Not only did the Trinity football team win its final game of the season, and snap Wesleyan’s undefeated record, but it kept alive the home winning streak, which is currently at 51 games, dating back to 2001.