Lord Jeffs Move to 6-0 for the First Time Since 2001

Mike Taylor led the Amherst defense and made a
strong case for his second NESCAC Defensive
Player of the Week award  of the season this afternoon.

From a Tufts University release

MEDFORD, MA - The Amherst College football team topped NESCAC rival Tufts University 13-3 this afternoon at Ellis Oval in Medford, Mass. The win moves the Lord Jeffs to 6-0 for the first time since 2001, and leaves Amherst alone atop the current conference standings after previously undefeated Trinity fell to Middlebury 31-24 today.

Sophomore Matt Rawson (Bethesda, MD) kicked two field goals for the Lord Jeffs and senior receiver Brandon Bullock (West Orange, NJ) caught a six-yard touchdown pass with 8:53 remaining in the game as Amherst emerged in what was a strong defensive effort for both sides.

The Jumbo defense set the tone on the first play of the game, forcing a fumble which junior linebacker Matt Murray (Winthrop, MA) recovered at the Amherst 32-yard line. Amherst's defense responded by stopping Tufts' drive and then blocking a 32-yard field goal attempt by Adam Auerbach (Glen Rock, NJ), as Tufts was unable to capitalize on the turnover.

The Jumbos did put the first points on the board, however, on their next drive. After the Tufts defense forced a three-and-out, the offense took over near midfield. An 11-yard pass from senior quarterback Tom McManama (Wakefield, MA) to junior Pat Bailey (Beverly, MA) got the drive going, and Auerbach later connected on a career-long 44-yard field goal to give Tufts a 3-0 lead.

The visiting Lord Jeffs would tie the score early in the second quarter. After getting the ball at their own 45 following a punt, sophomore Brian McMahon (Basking Ridge, NJ) engineered the drive effectively. He ran for 10 yards and then completed passes of 17 yards to sophomore Andrew Reed (Riverside, CT) and 20 yards to sophomore Eric Bunker (Topsfield, MA). The Lord Jeffs had a first and goal on the eight, but the Jumbo defense held and Rawson kicked a 27-yard field goal with 13:44 on the clock.

Matt Rawson kicked a pair of field goals in the win.

Both defenses continued to control the game. Three times in the second quarter, Amherst took possession in Tufts territory and did not score. The Jumbos twice made fourth-down stops, with Murray making both plays on a tackle and a pass break-up.

McManama threw for 82 yards on the afternoon, but the Jumbos' biggest pass play came from another source late in the second quarter. Tim Puopolo (Wenham, MA) took a lateral pass from his QB to the right side of the field. The senior wide receiver then turned and threw the ball back to McManama, who scampered down the field for a gain of 26 yards into Amherst territory. Tufts drove down to the Amherst 14-yard line, and seemed poised to take a lead into the break. However, the Jumbos were backed up by two penalties and a sack by Lord Jeff junior Jeff Katz (Cheshire, CT), forcing them into a second and 43 situation. It was one of eight sacks recorded by the Amherst defense, which had McManama on his heels all afternoon. The home team was forced out of field goal range and the teams went into the half knotted at 3-3.

Both teams played stalwart defense in the second half, but Tufts was unable to move the ball offensively after several key defensive stands. The Jumbos had particular offensive difficulty in their ground attack, finishing the day at -15 rushing yards, thanks in no small part to Amherst senior linebacker Mike Taylor (Evanston, IL). Taylor had a stellar game for the Lord Jeffs, pitching in eight individual tackles and assisting on eight more while contributing two sacks. He also forced two fumbles, recovering one of them deep in the Jumbos' end in the third quarter.

Despite an interception by Tufts senior cornerback Andrew Elfman (Wellesley, MA) to stop the Amherst drive after Taylor's fumble recovery, Tufts was forced to punt from its own 12-yard line. The Lord Jeffs took the ball near midfield and McMahon passed 29 yards to Reed on a third-down play. That led to Rawson's second field goal of the game, again from 27 yards, and a 6-3 Amherst lead early in the fourth quarter.

After forcing another Tufts punt from deep in their own territory, Amherst got the ball at the Jumbo 34 early in the fourth. The Jumbo defense showed impressive fight and grit all afternoon, but Amherst was able to punch in the game's only touchdown. On fourth and goal from the six-yard line, junior quarterback Alex Vetras (Clyde Hill, WA) found Bullock open over the middle and Amherst took a 13-3 lead.

The Lord Jeffs limited Tufts to 93 total yards. In addition to Taylor's performance, senior Fred Argir (Lakeville, MN) finished with eight tackles and sophomore Kevin Ferber (Mahwah, NJ) had two sacks among his eight tackles. Rookie linebacker Sam Clark (Andover, MA) had 2.5 tackles for losses, including an 11-yard sack. Senior Edwin Urey (Quincy, MA) had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Lord Jeffs held Tufts to just 1 for 15 on third-down conversions.

Vetras, who played the majority of the snaps, completed 11 of 22 passes for 74 yards on the afternoon for Amherst, while Reed led the visiting Jeffs with 46 receiving yards. McMahon led Amherst rushers with 34 yards on nine carries.

The Tufts defense, which kept the Lord Jeffs to three for 16 on third down, was led by seven tackles, a forced fumble and a pass break-up by senior safety Alex Perry (Danvers, MA). Senior cornerback Keith Novak (Albuquerque, NM) finished with six tackles, a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry. Murray added a sack to his fumble recovery and big fourth-down plays.

Amherst, 6-0 for the first time since 2001, will play host to Trinity next week. Tufts, now 2-4 with three straight losses, will travel to 3-3 Colby.