RYAN MURPHY ’17
Four years ago I came to Trinity to play football following the 2012 season, in which the team finished with a perfect 8-0 record and a NESCAC Championship. I thought we were invincible; that we would win the championship every year I played. A lot of my freshman class, myself included, thought we would leave Trinity with four rings.
Well, a 6-2, 5-3, and 7-1 season later, we came to camp our senior year with no rings, trying to avoid becoming the first senior class since 2001 to leave Trinity without a championship to our name.
On Saturday, we made sure not to be that class, defeating Wesleyan 45-21 in the proverbial NESCAC Championship Game, completing our perfect 8-0 season. The Cardinals were 6-1 coming into the game, losing only their season opener to Tufts, and a victory would have secured them a share of the NESCAC title.
The game started off on rocky ground as Wesleyan drove the field for touchdowns on their first two drives of the game. We hadn’t trailed by more than 11 points all season long, so being down 0-14 ten minutes in to the game we had all been waiting for was a bit unsettling. The mood on the sideline was still positive, though, especially after overcoming a 3-14 deficit against Amherst the week before.
Center Mamadou Bah ’17 said, “We were in this position before. I wasn’t too worried because we have a good group of guys that trust each other.”
Darrien Myers ’17 caught the ensuing kick off on the two-yard line and returned it 98 yards for the score, set free by a block from Dominique Seagears ’18 on the Wesleyan kicker. The score was the first kickoff returned for a touchdown since 2013 and was the spark the team needed to get our confidence back.
Two plays later, Wesleyan quarterback Mark Piccirillo and running back Lou Stevens botched the exchange on a handoff and outside linebacker Dago Picon-Roura ’19 scooped the ball up and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. In a matter of 17 seconds, we cut the largest deficit we faced all season to zero, and from that moment forward, there was no doubt as to the outcome that awaited us.
Our defense stopped the Wesleyan attack on their next two possessions, and the offense scored on the next two drives. After a 39-yard punt return by Myers and a pass interference penalty set the offense up with short field position, Sonny Puzzo ’18 ran in a touchdown from two yards out, to give us the lead, 21-14. After a couple of carries by Max Chipouras ’19 on the next drive, Puzzo found Bryan Vieira ’18 for a 58-yard touchdown pass with 13 minutes left in the first half, giving us a 28-14 lead.
After each team punted on their ensuing possessions, Wesleyan finally mustered another decent drive, getting to our 32-yard line. On 4th and 2, though, Co-captain Spencer Donahue ’17 and Carty Campbell ’18 stopped Piccirillo giving us the ball back with 7:44 left in the half.
A 25-yard pass from Puzzo to Myers sparked our next drive, and after 13 and 19-yard runs by Puzzo and Chipouras, respectively, we found ourselves with first and goal on the Wesleyan six-yard line. Penalties stalled the drive, though, and on fourth down we lined up for a field goal from the seven-yard line. On the snap, Puzzo flipped the ball behind his head to Eric Sachse ’19, the most accurate kicker in NESCAC single-season history, who ran it in for a touchdown.
We took a 35-14 lead into half and knew that if we came out with intensity in the second half, and put one more score on the board, the game would essentially be over. Wesleyan came out firing, though, to start the half, getting the ball down to the one-yard line. Devon Carrillo fumbled, though, as he attempted to jump over the pile into the end zone, and Jamie Law ’17 recovered the ball for Trinity.
Vieira hauled in another touchdown grab later in the third, set up by a 29-yard punt return by Johnnie Spears ’18. Wesleyan added a score late in the fourth and attempted an onside kick, but were unsuccessful. Sachse rounded out the scoring with his record-breaking 13th field goal with five minutes left in the contest.
After the two early scores allowed, the defense played a phenomenal game paced by Liam Kenneally ’18 with ten tackles and Donahue with nine. Kenneally also added an interception in the fourth quarter to put a stamp on the championship victory. Yosa Nosamiefan ’17 recorded his first career interception in his final game and added seven tackles, while Henderson Watkins came back from a sprained MCL to record six tackles and two pass breakups in his final career game. As a whole, the senior class amassed 50 tackles in its final game dawning the Trinity blue and gold.
The jubilation and excitement I felt when the clock hit triple zeros was unlike anything I have ever felt before. Every year that I played at Trinity, our goal was the same: to go 8-0, but this year it was different because we had no other option. We left Trinity football the same way we found it when we came in: CHAMPIONS.
RYAN MURPHY ’17