Trinity Football Blanks Wesleyan, Finnucan Leads Bantam Defense To Fourth Shutout

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Hartford, Conn. – Senior NT Tom Finnucan (Orange, Conn.) had 13 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and recovery, and blocked a field goal to lead the Trinity College Bantams to their fourth shutout of the season and a 27-0 victory over the visiting Wesleyan University Cardinals in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field. Trinity, ranked No. 3 in New England, closes the year with a 7-1 mark, its 13th straight season with a record of .500 or better, and its 43rd consecutive triumph at home. Trinity last lost at home in 2001 to Williams, 31-10, and has never lost a home game on turf. The Bantams claim second place in the NESCAC, as Amherst won at Williams, 31-18, today to finish at 8-0. Wesleyan completes its season with a 3-5 mark and four consecutive setbacks, and has dropped 12 in a row against the Bantams.

Trinity jumped ahead without running a play, when sophomore Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.) returned Wesleyan's punt after the game's opening drive 75 yards down the right sideline to paydirt for a 7-0 Bantam lead. Trinity drove to the Wesleyan five-yard line on its next drive only to have freshman K Zach Conte's (Barrington, R.I.) 22-yard field goal attempt blocked by Wesleyan's Nik Powers (New York, N.Y.). The Bantam defense forced a three-and-out, and a short punt by Wesleyan freshman Jesse Warren (Chicopee, Mass.) against a strong wind gave Trinity possession inside midfield. Nine plays later, Conte converted a then-career-long 41-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.

Finnucan knocked the ball loose from Wesleyan freshman RB LaDarius Drew (Mesquite, Texas) on the next Cardinal play from scrimmage and recovered it himself on the Wesleyan 22-yard line, but the wind grabbed Conte's third field goal attempt of the half and pushed it wide of the left upright. Wesleyan attempted its first field goal after a 45-yard run by junior RB Te'Rhon O'Neal (Los Angeles, Calif.) keyed a 53-yard drive to the Bantam 17-yard line, but sophomore Sebastian Aguirre's (Denville, N.J.) 34-yard try was blocked by Finnucan. The Bantams took advantage, advancing 59 yards on 10 rushes and one pass and finishing the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge by senior FB Nana Appah-Sampong (Lake Mary, Fla.) on 4th-and-goal from the Wesleyan one-yard line to give Trinity a 17-0 lead the break.

The defenses controlled the third quarter, as the teams combined for just one first down and 53 total yards over 15 minutes, but Conte made good on a 46-yard field goal with 10:29 left in the fourth quarter to break his previous career-long boot from earlier in the game. Trinity continued its defensive dominance, surrendering zero first downs, zero complete passes, and zero total yards over the final nine minutes of the game. Bantam sophomore QB Hedley Jennings (Charlotte, N.C.) found classmate A.J. Jones (Freetown, Sierra Leone) by himself down the right sideline for a touchdown with 4:09 on the clock to complete the scoring.

Trinity held possession for 36:21 of the game, and had 17 first downs to just five for Wesleyan. The Cardinals managed just 107 yards of total offense and just 33 of those came after intermission. Trinity sophomore RB Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) amassed 138 rushing yards on 30 carries, while Jones added four pass receptions for 76 yards. Jennings and junior QB Ryan Burgess (Dracut, Mass.) combined to complete 10 passes in 21 attempts for 148 yards. O'Neal paced the Cardinals with 47 yards on the ground, and senior QBs Matt Coyne (Bristol, Conn.) and Blake DuBois (Santa Ynez, Calif.) were 9-for-16 for 28 yards throwing the ball. Trinity senior co-captain ILB Walter Fallas (Everett, Mass.) had nine tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, and rookie LB Rob Gau (Westport, Conn.) contributed six hits, a sack, and two pass breakups. Wesleyan senior tri-captain MLB Cyprian Oyombo (Norwalk, Conn.) led all tacklers with 16 tackles (six solo) and had 1.5 tackles for loss, while senior LB Brett Bandazian (Wyckoff, N.J.) added 14 tackles, and senior DB Jordan Greene (Titusville, Fla.) intercepted a pass.

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