MIDDLETOWN, CT– Wesleyan quarterback David Estevez ran 25 yards for a touchdown in overtime to win a wild game. The final score was 27-21.
Williams (6-2) dominated much of the game, but the Cardinals (7-1) stuck around and tied the game with only 17 seconds to go in regulation.
The Ephs' first touchdown was aided by a bad penalty. On 3rd and short in the redzone, sophomore running back Dan Vaughn was stopped in his tracks by linebacker Nick Livingston. However, Livingston was whistled for a facemask, which gave Williams a first and goal with only a few yards to go. This set up a slant pass from junior quarterback Bobby Maimaron to his classmate Justin Nelson, who ran a great route to get open for the touchdown.
The touchdown sparked a flurry of late scoring after a primarily defensive game. On the next drive, Cardinals quarterback David Estevez heaved the ball deep into Williams territory, where his receiver Delando Clark somehow caught the ball in tight double coverage. Once the ball was in his hands, he had an easy path to the endzone, as both defenders fell after the jump ball.
Unperturbed, Maimaron led the Ephs into a two-minute drill, trying to score to end the half with the lead. With 44 yards to go, Maimaron broke through two tackles to avoid the sack and broke through the line upfield. With most of his receivers deep, there was nobody in his way between him and the end of the field. As he approached the endzone, junior receiver Frank Stola made a great block to let his quarterback finish off the play for the lead.
It seemed that the Cardinals would have to be content with a 7-point deficit heading into halftime, but Estevez had other plans. Until recently, he was a special teams specialist, and he showed it as he took Andrew Schriebstein's kick back from near his endzone. He found a hole in made by his blockers and went right through the middle of the field untouched. Using his speed, he brought the ball all way back for a touchdown, sending the game to a 14-14 halftime tie.
The Ephs played a perfect second half for until the very last drive. They pulled ahead quickly by way of a 1-yard pass to sophomore Tyler Spiezio. He has scored on an incredible 60% of his catches, with 6 touchdowns on 10 receptions this season. The team also controlled possession for over two-thirds of the half, keeping a tired defense on the field and keeping Estevez on the bench.
The defense played a huge role in this effort, forcing three-and-outs and quick possessions nearly every time the Cardinals touched the ball. However, on the last drive, Wesleyan drove 89 yards up the field on 15 plays, making timely conversions and winding the clock within a minute of full-time. On the 2-yard line, Estevez then ran the ball in on a quarterback keeper, tying the game at 21 after the extra point.
In overtime, the prolific Williams rushing attack was finally stopped, forcing a long fourth down attempt. Maimaron was flushed out of the pocket and had nowhere to go, forcing him to throw a pass to the corner of the endzone. The Aaron Rodgers-like pass nearly was caught by Spiezio in the endzone, but the defenders played tight enough coverage that the ball fell out of his arms.
Needing only a field goal, the Cardinals ran the ball, but Estevez found his way through the Ephs to the endzone, ending the game at 27-21.
Maimaron controlled the game masterfully, keeping Wesleyan off-balance with his decision making on the run-pass option. He finished with 123 yards passing, 125 yards rushing, and three total touchdowns. Vaughn ran for 98 yards on 20 rushes, while Nelson led Eph receivers with 68 yards on three receptions. On defense, senior Luke Apuzzi had 2 sacks.
Estevez only had an active role in 13 plays, but he accounted for every touchdown the Cardinals had. He threw the ball four times for 67 yards and a touchdown, rushed six times for 36 and two touchdowns, and had three kickoff returns for 123 and one touchdown. The other quarterback, sophomore Ashton Scott, played a great game mainly in the middle of the field, going 19-31 for 164 yards. He led the final Wesleyan drive that culminated in Estevez's touchdown.
"It was a great game and I'm proud of our performance," said head coach Mark Raymond. "We played well but we came up short today. Our redzone offense and defense wasn't quite what we needed it to be. Hats off to Wesleyan."
The loss breaks a six-game win streak for the Ephs coming into the day, the longest under Raymond's tenure at Williams. The team will look to finish the season strong against arch-rival Amherst College (4-4) at home. It will take place at 12pm.