A slew of big plays cost the Oaks Saturday afternoon, as NCAA DIII #6 Wesley College (6-1) spoiled homecoming with a 30-13 win at Conner Field. Menlo surrendered four touchdowns of at least 20-yards, three of which were from at least 40-yards out, and two from 60, as the Oaks drop two in a row for the first time this season to push their record to 4-3.
Menlo fought to the end in their bid at two separate comebacks, chopping a pair of three-touchdown deficits into a two-possession game. Down 21-0, the opening drive of the third quarter saw the Oaks go 82 yards on ten plays, culminating in a Matt Pelesasa to Robert Adan 25-yard TD strike for Menlo's first points of the afternoon. A missed extra point kept the margin at 21-6.
Adan led the Oaks after hauling in seven catches for the second consecutive game, racking up 85 yards and a score.
Late in the third quarter, Wesley got their three-touchdown lead back, thanks to a reverse that saw junior wide receiver Jeremiah Howe scamper 43 yards into the end zone to push the Wolverines advantage to 27-6 (missed extra point).
Menlo began the fourth quarter with their backs against the wall, down by 21, but kept hope alive by producing a key turnover. With 13:15 to go, junior Camyar Meshkaty forced and recovered a fumble from Wesley senior quarterback Justin Sottilare that quickly translated into six for the Oaks.
After the turnover, Pelesasa orchestrated a six play, 30-yard touchdown drive, wrapping up with the Oaks senior signal caller diving into the end zone from 2 yards out to make it a 27-13 game with still 11:06 minutes remaining.
Pelesasa would finish his afternoon with a season high 240 yards passing, completing 20 passes on 33 attempts with two touchdowns (one rushing) and an interception.
The Oaks were never able to get it inside of two possessions in the second half, with the Wolverines eventually tacking on a Dan Tryon 34-yard field goal late in the fourth to push the margin to 17 points.
Ultimately three first half touchdown passes from Justin Sottilare put Menlo in an early hole that they were never able to dig out of. The senior gun slinger hooked up with sophomore wide out Ryan Gerlitz on a 24-yard scoring heave a shade over two minutes into the tilt. The tone setting score would be followed by a 67-yard TD reception by sophomore Matt Bundy halfway through the second quarter, and a 64-yard scoring catch by sophomore Robert Wiggs with only 22 seconds remaining in the first half. Both the Bundy and Wiggs touchdowns came on third down.
Sottilare would go on to complete 16 of his 25 throws, accumulating 283-yards with three TD's and two interceptions. Bundy led all receivers with 103 yards and a score.
Menlo tallied a season low 101-yards on the ground, led by freshman Brandon Bell's 61 on 13 carries. Overall the Oaks racked up 341 total yards of offense, compared to Wesley who earned 432.
It doesn't get any easier for Menlo, as the Oaks travel to Indianapolis to take on the NAIA's #1 team in the country, Marian University, next Saturday, October 27th. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00pm.