Courtesy of Trinity Sports Information
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - First-year wide receiver Devante Reid (White Plains, N.Y.) scored the game's first and only touchdown on a five-yard end around, as the visiting Trinity College football team captured its third-consecutive NESCAC Championship with a 9-0 shutout win over the Wesleyan Cardinals on a cold and windy afternoon at Andrus Field.
The Bantams complete the season with an 8-1 record, tied with Amherst for the best record in the NESCAC, and earns the league crown due to its 27-16 head-to-head win over the Mammoths last weekend. Trinity has won nine official NESCAC titles (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018) and five in the last 11 seasons under head coach Jeff Devanney. Wesleyan ends its season at 5-4.
The game was scoreless at halftime, as the Bantams did not score in the first two quarters of a game for the first time since 2004, but the Trinity defense took control after the break. A pair of sacks on Wesleyan's first possession of the third quarter by juniors Daniel Negron (Hartsdale, N.Y.) and Devyn Perkins (Brookline, Mass.) forced the Cardinals to punt against the wind from deep in their own end zone. Trinity continued to win the field-position battle, and eventually broke through with a five-play, 51-yard drive late in the third. First-year quarterback Seamus Lambert (Andover, Mass.) completed first-down passes to sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Girard (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and junior tight end Joe Samuelman (North Andover, Mass.) before Reid took a sweep around the right side and found the pylon for the touchdown. A missed PAT, made the score, 6-0, with 5:19 remaining in the quarter.
Negron and sophomore defensive lineman James Christiano (Middlebury, Conn.) came up with another sack on the ensuing Cardinal possession to force a punt, and the Bantams pushed their lead to 9-0 on a 22-yard field goal by senior Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.) with 11:50 left in the game. Trinity senior tri-captain Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.) ran for 19 yards on 3rd-and-one to keep the scoring drive intact. Bantam seniors Chandler Colberg (Madison, Conn.) and Dago Picon-Roura (Roslindale, Mass.) each thwarted late Wesleyan drives with interceptions, including a pivotal pick by Colberg at his own 12-yard line.
Neither team could get much going in the first half, although Wesleyan had an early chance when senior captain Grant Williams recovered a fumbled Trinity snap at the Bantam 28-yard line on the second play of the game. Trinity senior linebacker Jacob Martilotti (Wayne, Pa.) made three tackles on the next four plays, including an eight-yard sack on 4th-and-3 from his own 21-yard line to end the threat. Trinity came up empty on its own drive into Wesleyan territory due largely to another fumbled snap later in the first quarter, and both defenses kept their opponent out of the red zone for the entire second frame.
Trinity held Wesleyan to 175 yards of total offense and just 62 yards on the ground while sacking Cardinal sophomore quarterback Dan Smith eight times. Christiano and Perkins had 2.5 sacks apiece, while Negron added two sacks, and Martilotti finished with a team-high nine tackles and one sack. Negron, Christiano, and Picon-Roura all forced fumbles as well for the Bantam defense. Wesleyan senior captain linebacker Brandon Morris led all tacklers with 11. Lambert completed 10 of 16 passed for 118 yards, while Chipouras rushed for a game-high 79 yards, and Girard added four catches for 58 yards for the Trinity offense. Smith was 13-for-31 for 150 yards to eight different receivers for the Cardinals. Three punts by Bantam junior Ian McDonald (Avon, Conn.) inside the Wesleyan 20-yard line were a key factor in the game.