MEDFORD – The Tufts University football team and Wesleyan University play their annual night game on Saturday at the Cardinals' Corwin Stadium at Andrus Field. Kickoff is at 6 pm.
|Co-captain Mike Pedrini scored on a 36-yard run at Bates during last Saturday's 33-28 victory.|
This is the fifth game between the teams under the lights. The tradition started in 2013 when Wesleyan hosted the first night game in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football history. The teams did not play each other in 2014 and 2015, but have competed under the lights in each year since (2016-18). The home team has won each of the four games. This is the 50th meeting between the teams overall.
Both teams are coming off victories last week. The Jumbos evened their season record at 2-2 with a 33-28 win at Bates College. Tufts is tied with Hamilton and Trinity for fifth place in the league standings as the NESCAC season enters its second half. Wesleyan joins Middlebury as the lone undefeated teams (4-0) sharing the top spot in the conference after they posted a 20-13 victory at Bowdoin College last Saturday.
The Tufts offense had its best day of the season thus far last weekend, and the big play was a key part of it. The Jumbos took a 7-0 lead on a 36-yard run by junior co-captain Mike Pedrini early in the second quarter. In the second half, they added a 70-yard scoring connection from senior QB Jacob Carroll to graduate WR Frank Roche and a 41-yard touchdown from freshman QB Trevon Woodson to junior Brendan Dolan. Senior Winton Blount also caught a 17-yard scoring pass from Carroll, who finished 16 for 21 (76.1 percent) for 223 yards.
Roche and Dolan have been two of NESCAC's top play-making receivers this fall. Dolan ranks fourth in the league with his 17.9 yards per catch, grabbing 12 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 75-yard touchdown reception against Amherst. Roche is averaging even more yards per catch at 27.8 (10 receptions – 278 yards – 2 TDs), though he does not have enough catches to qualify for the league leaders (three per game). He went 64 yards for a receiving TD against the Mammoths. Tufts currently ranks second in the league averaging 244.8 passing yards per game.
Jumbo junior kicker Matt Alswanger was honored as NESCAC's Special Teams Player of the Week for the Bates victory. He scored seven points in the five-point victory with four PATs and a 21-yard field goal. Alswanger was the first Jumbo to receive the league's special teams accolade since punter Alex LaPiana on October 1, 2017. Alswanger is Tufts' first kicker to be honored since Willie Holmquist on October 2, 2016.
Senior linebacker Stephen Timmins came up with a pair of big plays defensively last week. He blocked a Bates extra point early in the third quarter and also had a tackle for a loss resulting in a Bobcat safety that put the Jumbos up 19-14 late in the third. Senior linebacker Greg Holt recorded double-digit tackles with 11 and currently leads the league with 39 total tackles.
Like the Jumbos against Bates, Wesleyan didn't lock up their victory at Bowdoin until the final minutes. Junior running back Glenn Smith scored on a 31-yard run with 3:42 remaining in the fourth quarter to provide the winning margin. Smith finished the day with 108 yards on 19 carries (5.7 average) as the Cardinals put up 215 yards on the ground.
Sophomore QB Ashton Scott also had an eight-yard scoring pass to Dario Highsmith in the second quarter and a nine-yard TD run in the third for Wesleyan. Scott is a dual threat who ranks 11th in the conference for rushing (212 yards) and sixth in passing yards (720).
The Cardinal defense is led by returning All-Conference first team pick Taj Gooden. He was first in NESCAC with 17.5 tackles for losses last season including nine sacks. Wesleyan also has one of the top defensive backs in the league with senior Ben Thaw, who has eight career interceptions including two this year.
Wesleyan ranks second in NESCAC both offensively and defensively, scoring 31.5 points per game and allowing 11.3 per.
Led by a gritty performance from its defense, the Jumbos earned a 16-13 victory over Wesleyan last year in Somerville. The Cardinals missed a 46-yard field goal attempt with 40 seconds on the fourth-quarter clock that would have tied the game. Holt led Tufts with 12 tackles, while Kevin Quisumbing added nine and Tylor Scales had eight. Timmins registered three quarterback hurries. Michael Mughetto finished with two tackles for losses totaling 13 yards among his seven stops, to go with a pass break-up.
The Jumbos play their Homecoming game against Bowdoin College next Saturday at the Oval. Wesleyan will be at Middlebury next week.
TUFTS VS. WESLEYAN SERIES
Series Record: 24-23-2
First Game: 1892, Tufts 16-10
Last Tufts Win: 2018, 16-13
Last Wesleyan Win: 2017, 24-17 (ot)
Current Streak: Tufts, 1 game
Large Margins: Tufts 42-16 in 1983; Wesleyan 52-9 in 2013