Cardinals shut down Bobcat offense in 28-7 victory

Sandy Plashkes is brought down in Bates' 28-7 loss to Wesleyan on Oct. 15, 2016. (Josh Kuckens/Bates College) 

LEWISTON, Maine -- Devon Carrillo rushed for two touchdowns and set up a third touchdown with a 40-yard punt return, as Wesleyan University defeated the Bates College football team 28-7 Saturday at Garcelon Field.

The visiting Cardinals (3-1) defeated the Bobcats (1-3) for the 11th straight year, with a 367-132 difference in total offense, an 18-5 edge in first downs and possession of the ball for over 38 minutes of the game clock. Bates was held to a single first down in the second half, a 25-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Sandy Plashkes (Del Mar, Calif.) to junior Sean Peterson (Maynard, Mass.) in the third quarter.

Running backs Lou Stevens and Dario Highsmith both rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown in Wesleyan's victory. 

Wesleyan possessed the ball for 10 minutes of the first quarter but was held scoreless by a solid Bates defense. The first eight possessions of the game ended in punts.

The Cardinals marched 63 yards starting at their own 19 to start the second quarter, but Bates sophomore linebacker Joe Frake (Windham, N.H.) forced and recovered a Wesleyan fumble at Bates' 18-yard line. But the Bobcat offense went three and out, and sophomore Justin Foley's (Lynnfield, Mass.) punt from the Bates 26 was blocked by Eli Blair-May and downed 10 yards upfield at the 36.

A false-start penalty on the Cardinals set them back to the 34, but Piccirillo scrambled eight yards to pick up the first down. One play later, Highsmith got through a hole in the line and evaded a tackler on the way to a 26-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead with 6:00 left in the half.

Bates then started out at its own 13-yard line and was forced into another three-play drive. Foley's punt was picked up by Carrillo at the Bates 43, and a big block sprung him loose on the outside. Carrillo then hurdled over Foley and kept on rumbling until he was dragged down by sophomore Calvin Johnstone (Hopkinton, N.H.) at Bates' 3-yard line. Two plays later, Stevens plunged into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 3:58 left in the first half.

Bates' offense then showed signs of life as  junior Frank Williams (Brookline, Mass.) picked up 24 yards on first down and Plashkes gained another first down with an 11-yard scramble. He was then sacked for a loss of seven by Jude Lindberg. Then a would-be first-down gain by Williams was negated by an offensive pass interference flag, instead sending Bates back into its own territory and a 2nd and 32 predicament, effectively ending the drive. The teams headed into halftime with Wesleyan up 14-0.

Bates didn't start the second half the way it wanted to. The kickoff was fumbled and recovered by first-year Marquise Scott (Newport, R.I.) at the Bates 15, and first-year Zach Doyon (Eliot, Maine) was then stopped for a loss on consecutive plays, giving Bates 4th and 17 at its own 7. The punter Foley then mishandled the snap and Wesleyan's Jake Cronin recovered the fumble at the Bates 1-yard line, setting up Carrillo's scoring plunge for a 21-0 Wesleyan lead.

Bates was then held to another three and out, but Wesleyan's second turnover of the game returned the ball to the Bobcats in Cardinal territory. Gernald Hawkins' pass over the middle was picked off by sophomore Kevin Claflin (Ashland, Mass.) and returned 25 yards to the Wesleyan 45, and a personal foul called on Wesleyan tacked 15 more yards on to the play. At 1st and 10 rom the Wesleyan 30, Plashkes hit Peterson in stride as he cross into the end zone for the touchdown, closing the gap to 21-7 with 7:58 left in the third.

Wesleyan responded with its longest drive of the game, picking up 75 yards on 11 plays, including a 35-yard pass from Piccirillo to Andrew Mehr. Carrillo converted a 4th and 1 from the Bates 8-yard line, and on third down at the 1 he plunged in again for his second touchdown and the 28-7 lead, with 3:40 left in the third quarter.

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, trading punts until the Cardinals ran out the game clock in Bates territory.

Piccirillo completed 15-21 passes for 168 yards with no interceptions, while Hawkins completed 5-of-6 passes for 63 yards for Wesleyan. Mike Breuler caught seven passes for 43 yards and Mehr gained 114 yards on four catches. 

For Bates, Plashkes completed 8-of-15 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions thrown. Frank Williams rushed for a team-high 34 yards on four attempts. Peterson (2-35) and junior Noah Stebbins (Biddeford, Maine; 2-22) had two catches apiece for the Bobcats.

Shayne Kaminski led Wesleyan with nine tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. For Bates, senior Mark Upton (Winthrop, Mass.) led all players with 12 tackles, including his third sack of the season, while senior Trevor Lyons (Hamilton, Mass.) had 11 tackles (10 solo), including two for a loss. 

Bates next plays at Middlebury Oct. 22 at 1pm.