Vince Miller '12 & Shea Dwyer '10 Have 100 Yards Rushing but Cards Fall to Middlebury ; Justin Freres '11 is NESCAC POW
Despite 119 yards rushing from Shea Dwyer '10 (#5, photo insert upper right), who also scored a third-quarter TD, and 114 yards on the ground from Vince Miller '12 (#22, main photo), who ran in for a pair of scores, the Cardinals came up short in their season opener at Middlebury Sat., Sept. 25, dropping a 24-21 decision. After Miller got Wesleyan within three with 2:18 to go in the game, Bo Brown '11 recovered an onside kick by Sebastian Aguirre '14, but the Cardinals were unable to gain a first down and Middlebury was able to run out the clock by taking a knee twice. Wesleyan was out of timeouts.
Wesleyan held a 7-3 lead in the first quarter as each team scored on its opening possesion. While Middlebury converted a 35-yard field goal, Wesleyan countered with Miller's first TD scamper, gping 25 yards up the left side, to complete a five-play, 70-yard drive. Middlebury scored on its second possession as well, for a 10-7 lead with 4:40 left in the first period. The scoring stopped from that point for the rest of the half as the Panthers took a 10-7 lead into the locker room.
Middlebury held its largest lead when the Panthers again scored with its first possession of a half, making it a 17-7 contest. Dwyer's 10-yard burst up the middle completed a seven-play, 79-yard march to make it 17-14 with 7:42 remaining in the third period. Dwyer finished the game as the top rusher with 16 carries for 119 yards while Miller added 114 yards on 17 attempts. They are the first Wesleyan running-back duo to both go over 100 yards in a game since Tom Themistocles and John Pascucci had 110 and 144 yards, respectively, vs. Tufts during a 51-33 victory in 1997.
Middlebury came right back to push the margin to 10 with a three-play TD drive at 6:49, making it 24-14. The Cardinals came within a foot of making it a 24-21 game early in the fourth quarter, driving 30 yards after a Peter Modera '11 punt return to the Middlebury 46. On 3rd-and-3 at the Panther 16, Miller again got to the outside left and was hit inside the five-yard line. His attempt to stretch out and get the ball to the goal line resulted in a fumble and Middlebury recovered the ball in the endzone for a touchback.
Wesleyan still rose to the occasion to get Miller into the endzone on a two-yard run to finish off a methodical 16-play, 80-yard drive, the longest of the game, which consumed 7:41. When Brown covered the loose ball following the ensuing onside kick at the Wesleyan 43, the Cardinals had a final chance. But two runs for five yards and a pair of incompletions turned the ball over to the Panthers, ending the game.
Wesleyan outgained its host in total yardage, 426-391, behind the 261 rushing yards triggered by Miller and Dwyer. Matt Coyne '12, making his first start for Wesleyan at QB, completed 16 of 29 passes for 113 yards while also rushing for 33 yards on 12 tries. Joe Giaimo '11 had a big 52-yard pass to Coyne from his receiver position on an end around that helped set up the second Cardinal score.
Defensively, Wesleyan got 14 tackles each from safety Justin Freres '11 (#46, photo insert, lower right), 10 of them solo, and linebacker Cyprian Oyomba '12, who had seven solos. Freres, who was named co-Defensive Player of the Week by the NESCAC, also had an interception in the Wesleyan endzone to stifle a potential scoring bid by Middlebury in the fourth period as the Panthers had reached the Wesleyan 23 with 9:59 left to play. Wesleyan began its final TD series following Freres' touchback.
The Cardinals will open the home season Sat., Oct. 2 when Hamilton, a 21-10 loser to Tufts in its initial contest, comes to Middletown. Hamilton defeated Weseyan, 26-14, in Clinton, N.Y. last season. The game will have both a webcast and livestats available. The webcast will be preceded by a 15-minute program featuring Wesleyan players and Head Coach Mike Whalen, starting at 12:45 p.m. For the webcast, click < here
>. For the livestats, click < here