Bantams Defeat Wesleyan, Take NESCAC Championship

3 min read

Last weekend, the Bantam football team beat in-state rival Wesleyan University in front of a large homecoming crowd at the Jessee/Miller field. Tri-captain quarterback Sonny Puzzo ‘18 threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Jonathan Girard ‘21 and ran for a third to lead the Bantams to a 28-3 victory over the Cardinals. Trinity finished the season with an 8-1 record, but had to wait for Williams College to beat Amherst College in a 31-24 overtime win to find out that the Bantams had won their second consecutive NESCAC Championship title.  Trinity and Amherst were both 7-1 entering last Saturday, and the Mammoths owned the head-to-head tiebreaker, so the Bantams needed a win and an Amherst loss to secure the championship outright.
Trinity never trailed in the 116th edition of the historic rivalry, scoring the game’s first touchdown on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Puzzo to Girard. Late in the second quarter, Wesleyan defensive back Elias Camacho ‘17 picked off Puzzo, running it back to the Bantam 29-yard line. The Bantam defense came up clutch with consecutive tackles for losses by Trinity linebacker Shane Libby ‘19 and defensive linemen Corey Jean Jacques ‘18 and Nick Rose ‘19 to end the drive.  Wesleyan possessed the ball for 20 of the first 30 minutes, but the Trinity defense kept them out of the end zone and the Bantams led, 7-0, at halftime.
The Cardinals opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal by kicker Corey Phillips. Wesleyan had advanced to the Bantam four-yard line on the drive, but Jean-Jacques and Libby combined on a seven-yard sack on 1st-and-goal to force the Cardinals to settle for a field goal.  Wesleyan threa

COURTESY OF Trinity College Student Photographers

tened again on its next drive, but Trinity safety John Medina ’18 came up with the first of three Bantam interceptions in the second half, picking off Wesleyan at their own 11-yard line and returning the ball to the Trinity 31-yard line. Trinity capitalized quickly when Puzzo found Girard down the left sideline for a 47-yard pass play and then lofted a ball to him in the left corner of the end zone from 15 yards away, giving the Bantams a 14-3 lead with 42 seconds left in the third quarter. The energy of the homecoming crowd was palpable.
The interception-frenzy continued as Trinity defensive back Matt Patry ’20 intercepted the Wesleyan quarterback at his own one-yard line to stymie the next Wesleyan scoring opportunity. On the next Cardinal posession, cornerback Dominique Seagears ’18 picked off his third pass of the year. Trinity went ahead 21-3 on a four-yard run up the middle by Puzzo, never looking back at the Cardinals after that.
The Bantam defense tallied some impressive stats, with Junior Shane Libby leading the way with 10 tackles (nine of which were solo) and a pair of sacks, while inside linebacker Carty Campbell ’18 added nine tackles. Jean-Jacques and Matt Patry each added eight hits.  Jean-Jacques also notched four tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks. Trinity’s dominant performance on Saturday was quite impressive in a must win game. After celebrating, the Bantams will move into off-season workouts and then return next fall with their sights set on a third straight NESCAC Championship.

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