LEWISTON, Maine — Wesleyan starting quarterback Jesse Warren passed for 262 yards and backup quarterback Devon Carrillo ran for a game-high 92 yards to lead the Cardinals to a 24-10 win over Bates Saturday at Garcelon Field.
Wesleyan (4-0), ranked No. 2 among New England Division III teams, defeated Bates (1-3) for the ninth consecutive year and stayed on top of the NESCAC standings. The Cardinals outgained Bates 418 yards to 164 and held the Bobcats to 2-of-13 on third-down conversions. Bates fumbled the ball five times, losing two of them.
Bates had its most successful offensive drive on the first possession of the game, driving 69 yards on 14 plays to the Wesleyan 6-yard line, where first-year Drew Korn (Stow, Mass.) booted a 23-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:19 left in the opening quarter.
Wesleyan drove into Bates territory on five straight scoreless possessions to start the game, finally breaking through with 13.5 seconds left in the half, when Kyle Gibson finished off a 10-play, 62-yard drive with a 1-yard push into the end zone, giving Wesleyan a 7-3 lead at halftime. Gibson, who rushed for 132 and 141 yards in the team's previous two meetings, was limited to 33 yards on 17 carries in the game.
The Cardinals advanced to the Bates 28 on their first possession before missing a 43-yard field goal attempt. A strip-sack by Nik Powers, recovered by Alex Sakhno, set up Wesleyan at the Bates 35, but Bates forced the Cardinals to turn the ball over on downs. Wesleyan kicker Ike Fuchs missed from 34 yards on Wesleyan's third possession, and the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs again at the Bates 23 on their fourth possession.
The Cardinals received the kickoff that opened the second half and Carrillo rumbled 49 yards to the Bates 36 to start things off. A 14-yard rush by Warren on 3rd and 14 kept the drive ailve and the Cardinals reached the Bates 13 before lining up for a 30-yard field goal attempt. The snap was bobbled and holder Peter George abandoned the kick and completed a pass to Ben Kurtz, who was stuffed four yard behind the line of scrimmage by Bates senior linebacker Pat Gilligan (Acton, Mass.).
Wesleyan subsequently forced Bates into a three-and-out, however, and took the ball over at the Bates 47. After Bates sophomore Mark Upton (Winthrop, Mass.) sacked Warren for a 12-yard loss to start the series, Warren hit an open Kurtz over the middle to convert a 3rd and 17. Carillo, who was switched with Warren in and out of the game mid-series, then ran for 16 yards to the Bates 18, and four plays later Lou Stevens ran in from the 5. Fuchs' point-after made it 14-3.
Wesleyan then held Bates to another three-and-out, then took over at their own 34 and began a 56-yard scoring drive with 4:00 left in the quarter. Bates' offense was limited to six plays and no first downs in the quarter.
Warren's consecutive completions to Neil O'Connor for 6 and 5 yards took Wesleyan to the Bates 10 to start the fourth quarter, and from there Fuchs kicked a 27-yard field goal for a 17-3 lead.
Bates again got nothing going on its subsequent possession, but the Bobcat defense forced a Wesleyan turnover to regain possession at the Wesleyan 16. Warren hit Kurtz for a 5-yard gain, but senior Josh Freedland (Marblehead, Mass.) forced a fumble, recovered by senior Adam Cuomo (Plymouth, Mass.).
Bates junior quarterback Patrick Dugan (Westford, Mass.), starting in place of injured senior Matt Cannone (Windham, N.H.), rushed for a 12-yard gain on first down, reaching the Wesleyan 4, the spot moved up to the 2 on a late-hit penalty. Dugan kept the ball again for a 2-yard rushing touchdown, and Korn's point-after closed the gap to 17-10 with over 11 minutes left to play.
The Bobcat defense forced another fumble, as Upton jarred the ball loose from Carrillo at the 50-yard line, and Freedland recovering the ball at the Bates 48.
With 9:25 left in the game, the Parents & Family Weekend capacity crowd sensed a change in momentum. But on 3rd and 8 at the 50, Bates called timeout with the game clock about to expire, then saw Mitch Godfrey sack Dugan for a 6-yard loss, forcing the Bobcats to punt.
Wesleyan punted the ball back to Bates, but on 2nd and 10 from the Bobcat 25, a pitch to sophomore Tyler Janssen (Glastonbury, Conn.) was mishandled, and Wesleyan's Justin Sanchez recovered at the Bates 20. The Cardinal offense capitalized immediately, with Warren finding Jay Fabien open by the left sideline and Fabien weaving through the Bates backfield into the end zone. With 4:34 left in the game, Wesleyan suddenly led by two touchdowns at 24-10, and Bates' hopes for an upset were dashed for good.
Dee Simons led Wesleyan with nine tackles, including one of the team's four sacks. Fabien led Wesleyan receivers with six catches for 65 yards and a score, while Kurtz had six receptions for 61 yards.
Upton had a big game for Bates with a game-high 11 tackles (8 solo), including one sack and a forced fumble. Senior cornerback Mike Kelleher (Saugus, Mass.) added 10 tackles (8 solo), and sophomore Brandon Williams (Gardner, Mass.) made five tackles in his first start at cornerback. Cuomo had seven tackles, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups, and Freedland also had seven tackles with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Junior slotback Shaun Carroll (Clinton, Maine) was Bates' leading rusher and receiver on the day, toting the ball eight times for a net of 51 yards, including a 38-yard jaunt in the first quarter, and catching two balls for 45 yards, including a 33-yard catch, also in the first quarter. Dugan completed 5-of-13 passes for 66 yards.
At halftime, Bates' 1984 ECAC semifinalist men's lacrosse team was honored along with the 23 Bates All-Americans and Athletic Department award winners from the 2013-14 academic year.
Bates plays at Middlebury next Saturday at 1pm, while Wesleyan hosts Amherst at 1:30.