Alex Dahlem ’20
The Trinity College football team lost their final game of the 2019 season this past Saturday against in-state rival Wesleyan University. This weekend’s loss brought Trinity’s record to 5-4 and a fourth place finish in the NESCAC. This marks the first season since 2015 that the Bantams have not won the NESCAC season title and the first time that Trinity has lost to the Cardinals at Jesse/Miller field since 1998.
Wesleyan got out to a quick start thanks to consecutive touchdown runs from the one-yard line. The Cardinal passing game was on point early on as each of their first two drives sliced up the Bantam secondary with long passing completions. After a lackluster first quarter on the offensive side of the ball, Trinity kicked it up a notch in the second quarter thanks to a 20-yard completion from starting quarterback Seamus Lambert ’22 to wide receiver Koby Schofer ’20. However, Trinity’s drive was thwarted as Wesleyan turned up their defense and forced a turnover on downs that kept the Bantams out of the end zone.
A few minutes later , the Bantams were once again charging down the field before a Lambert interception ended the drive. Wesleyan subsequently marched down the field before Bantam safety Matt McCarthy ’21 forced a fumble that was picked up by fellow safety Matt Patry ’20. Trinity could not capitalize on the momentum as the stingy Cardinal defense sacked Lambert twice during the next set of downs.
Wesleyan’s dominance continued after halftime with a 10-play, 66-yard scoring drive that put them ahead 21-0. Trinity’s defense almost prevailed as they blocked the Cardinals attempt at a long field goal, a play that ended in a Trinity penalty and a new lease on life for the Wesleyan scoring drive. Just like that, Trinity, trailing 21-0, was in unfamiliar territory against their cross-state rival.
Looking to mount a second half comeback, Trinity took Lambert out of the game and put in transfer QB Jordan Vazzano ’20, a former University of Rhode Island player who came to Hartford at the start of last season. On the very next drive, Vazzano connected with Jonathan Girard ’21 for a 21-yard touchdown completion with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Bantam defense picked up, holding Wesleyan at 21 points for the rest of the quarter and freeing up Vazzano and the Bantam offense to mount a fourth quarter comeback. Vazzano did just that by connecting once again with Girard- this time on a 71-yard pass that electrified the home team crowd. After a block ed PAT the score was now 21-13 with Trinity charging.
A mid-quarter 47-yard touchdown by the Wesleyan running back quieted the crowds and put the Cardinals up by 15 with just eight minutes remaining in the game. Not to be outdone in his final game in the Coop, Vazzano responded with a 29-yard touchdown throw that sliced up the Cardinal defense and swung the momentum back to Trinity.
A few minutes later, the Bantams were once again charging down the field, this time looking to tie things up with the Cardinals. Vazzano, although unstoppable to this point in the game, bounced a pass off of a receiver that landed straight into a Wesleyan defender’s hands, ending Trinity’s epic comeback.
Overall, Wesleyan led the Bantams 350-244 in passing yards, signifying a potential offensive problem for Trinity moving forward. Lambert, the star from the latter half of the 2018 season when he was named NESCAC rookie of the year, struggled at times this year. Meanwhile, Jordan Vazzano, a steady offensive presence, will be graduating this spring. The Bantams will also be graduating Koby Schofer, a tri-captain and key member of the receiving core. This year’s NESCAC title was won by the undefeated Middlebury Panthers, marking their first NESCAC title victory since 2013 and their fourth in the entire history of their program.