It’s a long rivalry. Wesleyan and Amherst have played nearly every year since 1913, missing just three seasons during World War II. They first met on the gridiron in 1882, with Wesleyan prevailing. The teams will battle for the 120th time during Wesleyan’s Homecoming, Oct. 18.
A webcast of the game is available here.
One aspect of the game is unmistaken. It represents the second straight year both teams bring identical 4-0 records into the encounter.
A Wesleyan triumph would add significant historical perspective to the proceedings. Having ended an 10-year skid versus Amherst last season with a 20-14 road victory, Wesleyan can put back-to-back wins against the Jeffs into the books for the first time since 1992-93. Even more significant, with a 19-17 homecoming win vs. Williams in 2013, Wesleyan can chalk up back-to-back homecoming victories over its Little Three rivals for the first time since 1980-81. As far as the potential 5-0 record that befalls the winner, should it be Wesleyan, the Cardinals would be 5-0 in consecutive campaigns for the first time since 1947-48, the heyday of Cardinal football glory, with four undefeated years.
Both Amherst and Wesleyan have arrived at their lofty spots atop the NESCAC rankings this season, joined by Trinity, in high fashion. Amherst has outscored its four opponents, 86-23, while Wesleyan has a 117-52 scoring advantage. The teams have three common opponents and three common results. Both defeated Middlebury (Wesleyan, 22-14; Amherst, 7-0), Bates (Wesleyan, 24-10; Amherst, 14-6) and Colby (Wesleyan, 28-7; Amherst, 35-10).
Both teams have players firmly entrenched among the NESCAC leader lists, most notably for Wesleyan quarterback Jesse Warren. Warren leads the conference in passing efficiency (154.9) and has a league-best seven touch down tosses while throwing no interceptions, the only starter in the league to have less than two passes picked off thus far. Amherst has split time every game with QBs Alex Berluti and Reece Foy seeing action, but usual starter Max Lippe just returned to action in the second half against Colby last week and will start against Wesleyan.
Both teams have a top-five rusher as Nick Kelly leads Amherst with 89 yards a game and two TDs. Kyle Gibson ’15 has done the bulk of the running for Wesleyan, averaging 76.5 yards a game with four scores.
On the defensive side, Ned Deane has 38 stops to pace the Jeffs. Paul Johnson has a league-high four sacks. Nik Powers leads Wesleyan with 2.5 sacks. Wesleyan has the NESCAC interception leader in Jake Bussani with four pickoffs for 79 yards and two TDs.
In addition to the football game, Homecoming will feature Middletown Day activities in the Homecoming Spirit Tent, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer vs. Amherst, volleyball vs. Middlebury, and other athletic contests. The Career Center will be hosting an open house, and Center for the Arts exhibitions and performances will be available for attendees. For more information, see the Homecoming website.