MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Sophomore quarterback Ashton Scott threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to sophomore WR Matthew Simco with six seconds left in the fourth quarter giving host Wesleyan University a dramatic 20-13 win over Tufts University in an exciting NESCAC football game under the lights at Corwin Stadium on Saturday evening.
|Frank Roche caught eight passes for 154 yards in the game.|
The Jumbos missed a 33-yard field goal with 1:48 remaining in the fourth, which left the game in a 13-13 tie and gave Wesleyan the ball at the 20-yard line. Scott drove the Cardinals down the field for the game-winning score completing five passes for 73 yards during the drive.
The Cardinals remained unbeaten at 5-0 while the Jumbos fell to 2-3.
Playing the fifth night game between the teams since 2013, Tufts had led 10-0 at halftime. Junior kicker Matt Alswanger hit a 38-yard field goal to open the scoring at 6:24 of the first quarter. Tufts then took a 10-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by senior Dom Borelli at 8:35 of the second quarter.
The touchdown drive was preceded by a fourth-down tackle from Jumbo defensive end Jovan Nenadovic which turned the ball over on downs. Tufts then converted a fourth and one with a 22-yard pass from senior QB Jacob Carroll to junior WR Brendan Dolan that kept the possession alive. Carroll also had a 37-yard completion to graduate Frank Roche during the drive.
The Jumbo defense shut down Wesleyan in the first half. The Cardinals came into the game ranked second in NESCAC scoring 31.5 points per contest. Tufts held the hosts to just four first downs and 0 for 6 on third down in the first 30 minutes. The Jumbos held an 18:29 to 11:31 advantage in time of possession for the first half.
Wesleyan senior Ben Thaw had his third interception of the season late in the first quarter. Tufts missed a 40-yard field goal attempt late in the first half.
Cardinal sophomore David Estevez returned the second-half kickoff 36 yards and a personal foul on the Jumbos added 15 more allowing the hosts to start at Tufts' 38. That resulted in Wesleyan's first points, a six-yard touchdown pass from Scott to junior Delando Clarke making it 10-7 at 12:21 of the third.
Late in the third, Wesleyan had a long punt return to the Jumbo 15 by Estevez nullified by a penalty. However, they were able to turn the possession into points as freshman Mason Von Jess capped an 11-play drive with a 37-yard field goal that tied the score at 10-10 early in the fourth.
Cardinal senior Eli Blair-May intercepted Carroll on the next Jumbo drive, but the Tufts defense stood firm. Wesleyan earned a first and goal on the Jumbo 10, but settled for a Von Jess 27-yarder that put the hosts up 13-10 at 8:34 of the fourth quarter.
Tufts took over and Carroll completed a 65-yard pass to Roche down to the Wesleyan nine-yard line. However, this time the Cardinal D held strong and the Jumbos got a 26-yard field goal from Alswanger to tie the score at 13-13 with 7:16 on the fourth-quarter clock.
Jumbo sophomore Brandyn Jones intercepted the first pass of his career at midfield on the ensuing possession. The Jumbos converted a fourth and eight during the drive with Carroll's nine-yard completion to junior OJ Armstrong. However, the drive stalled and they missed the field goal leading to Wesleyan's game-winning touchdown.
The Jumbos out-gained Wesleyan 351 total yards to 338. Carroll completed 22 of 41 passes for 297 yards, including eight balls for 154 yards to Roche. Borelli rushed 14 times for 55 yards and the touchdown. Senior linebacker Greg Holt finished with a game-high 12 tackles and freshman punter Patrick Walsh averaged 41.2 yards on five kicks.
For Wesleyan, Scott completed 19 of 33 passes for 206 yards and the two scores. Simco was the recipient of eight passes for 130 yards. Sophomore Danny Banks led the Cardinal defense with nine tackles. Wesleyan sacked Carroll four times, with 1.5 credited to junior Nick Livingston.
Tufts will play its Homecoming game next Saturday versus Bowdoin. Wesleyan travels to Middlebury for a battle of unbeatens next Saturday.