Middletown, Conn. - The Colby College Football team opened the 2019 season with a defeat at the hands of the Wesleyan University Cardinals 30-10, but looks can be deceiving. At first glance, the team is still a tier below their opponent, who finished last season with a top-5 defense and a record that settled them tied for fourth in the NESCAC. At first glance, falling behind 20-0 halfway through the second quarter identifies an early outcome. At first glance, a team behind early must abandon its game plan to stand a chance. That is not the story of the 2019 Colby Mules. Again, looks can be deceiving.
Colby looked to send a message to the Cardinals and the rest of the conference on their very first drive. Starting at their own 25, Colby marched 66 yards on 12 plays all the way to the Wesleyan six yard line and attempted their first of three 4th down attempts. Make it, and the Mules continue marching, most likely into the end zone. Fail, and risk the march beginning the other way without three points on the board. Head coach Jack Cosgrove put the ball in the hands of senior running back David Smith who was met by senior linebacker Chase Pratt for a 3 yard loss, and the Carninal march began. Make that first down, and we have a different game. Make that first down, and we have a different story.
Wesleyan took the ball 91 yards for their first score of the afternoon, capped with a 50 yard pass from Ashton Scott to Delando Clarke. In their next two drives, the Cardinals would rack up 51 and 42 yards respectively, only to come away with two field goals.
After amassing only five combined yards in its second and third possessions, Colby put their foot down on their fourth drive early in the second quarter and moved the chains. With a chance to reestablish the tempo of the game, Coach Cosgrove and the Mules were committed to their game plan, showing multiple formations and keeping the defense honest with a mix of run and pass options. After a first down throw from Matt Hersch (22-40, 244 yards, 1 TD) to Rory Glavin (6 receptions, 104 yards), senior captain Chris George (18 rushes, 104 yards) gashed Wesleyan up the middle for 34 yards and threatened the red zone. The next completion from Hersch to Ethan Smith resulted in a fumble with a Wesleyan recovery.
Resiliency is part of the game, as is ball control and maintaining possession. The Mules would fumble on their next possession as well, and with two late interceptions they ended the day -4 in the turnover margin.
Resiliency. A resilient perspective allowed the Mules to answer with two minutes to go in the half with a Hersch to Pat Sweetnam touchdown to make it 20-7. It also alowed them to close the gap to 20-10 with a Moises Celaya 24 yard field goal with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. It allowed for fantastic game performances from George and Glavin, each notching 100-yd games. On the defensive side, junior captain Marcus Bullard roamed the field from sideline to sideline and ammassed 12 total tackles, including one for a loss. Two late scores by Wesleyan allow for the deception that this contest was not close.
Resiliency is what the Mules are going to show as they come back to Maine for their home opener next weekend against Amherst and look to build on the many things they did well, and eliminate the few things that took away opportunities in Middletown. This is where the story of the 2019 Colby Mules begins.