Week 6 Preview: Amherst @ Tufts
AMHERST COLLEGE (5-0) vs. TUFTS UNIVERSITY (2-3)
SATURDAY, OCT. 31 * 1 P.M.
MEDFORD, MA * ZIMMAN FIELD
Aaron Rauh '10 found the end zone twice last week to mark the 17th and 18th rushing touchdowns of his career.
Saturday’s game between Amherst and Tufts will feature live video and audio courtesy of JumboCast. Live statistics will also be available.
THIS WEEK IN THE NESCAC
Wesleyan (2-3) @ Bowdoin (2-3) – 12:30 p.m.
Trinity (5-0) @ Middlebury (2-3) – 1 p.m.
Bates (0-5) @ Colby (2-3) – 1 p.m.
Hamilton (1-4) @ Williams (4-1) – 1 p.m.
Amherst has won 48 of 78 meetings with Tufts dating back to the inaugural matchup in 1877 and has come out on top in four of the past seven. Amherst has put an undefeated record on the line against Tufts twice this decade but managed to win only one of those games. Three years after Amherst improved to 6-0 with a 14-10 win on the Jumbos’ home field, Tufts won the 2004 meeting by a score of 10-3 at Amherst to ruin the Jeffs’ hopes of a perfect season.
Amherst looked phenomenal while scoring 24 first-half points against Tufts last year at Pratt Field, but the Jumbos scored 17 consecutive points in the second half to cut their deficit to seven. The Lord Jeffs were able to hang on for the 24-17 win to improve to 5-1, while Tufts fell to 3-3 with the loss. Amherst entered last year’s meeting allowing a mere 54.0 rushing yards per game, an average that dropped to 41.0 after Tufts struggled in the ground game. The Lord Jeffs picked up eight sacks on the day for a total loss of 56 yards, giving the Jumbos a net loss of 14 rushing yards. The Jeffs, meanwhile, ran the ball 40 times for 125 yards.
After a Matt Eberhart ’10 35-yard field goal provided the lone points of the first quarter, quarterback Alex Vetras ’11 threw for a pair of touchdowns and Aaron Rauh ’10 ran for another to give Amherst a seemingly comfortable 24-0 lead at halftime. Tufts came back with seven points in the third frame and began the fourth quarter with a 33-yard field goal to cut its deficit to 14 points. On their next possession, the Jumbos converted on a 4th-and-15 situation thanks to an 18-yard reception and followed up with a stellar 25-yard touchdown strike on the next play to make it a 24-17 game with 7:21 to play.
Tufts then seemed to have Amherst set up for a three-and-out on the next possession, but head coach E.J. Mills elected to go for it on 4th-and-1. It was a big gamble for the Jeffs, who were on their own 30-yard line, but Rauh powered his way forward for exactly what he needed, as the chains were brought out to measure and the home fans roared when the referee signaled the first down.
Rauh’s run kept the drive alive and forced Tufts to burn three timeouts, as the Jumbos began their final drive with less than five minutes to work with. Amherst’s defensive line had been shining all day and Tufts’ final possession was no different, as Guy Matisis ’09 and Edwin Urey ’10 each picked up a sack to put the Jumbos in a 4th-and-33 situation on their own 7-yard line. The visitors could not pick up enough yards to get the first down, and the Jeffs managed to run out the clock to hang on for the 24-17 win. Tufts was 0-for-12 on third-down attempts in the game.
AMHERST LAST TIME OUT
Amherst used four interceptions from its defense and a season-high 23 points from its offense to earn a shutout victory over Wesleyan University last Saturday at Pratt Field. Amherst scored on all four of its red zone chances and the Cardinals were unsuccessful on all four of theirs, as the Lord Jeffs continued to come up with timely plays on defense. Senior Fred Argir intercepted a pair of passes to bring his season total to five, with fellow seniors Chris Govey and Fran Florio each adding a pick. The Lord Jeffs gained 314 yards of total offense compared to 209 for Wesleyan, with Amherst running for a season-high 158 yards while holding the Cardinals to 14 yards on 17 carries.
Amherst took a 10-0 lead into halftime thanks to a 21-yard field goal from Matt Rawson and a 13-yard touchdown strike from Alex Vetras to Sean Legister, with both scores coming in the second quarter. Amherst would add another six points on its second possession of the fourth quarter when Argir returned an interception 22 yards to the Wesleyan 18, with Aaron Rauh capping off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run. A Florio interception was later returned 33 yards to the Cardinal 2-yard line with less than two minutes to play. Rauh then picked up a second touchdown, as he came through with a five-yard run on fourth down to tack on six more points. Rawson’s extra point brought the score to 23-0, and the Cardinals ran out of time on their ensuing possession.
TUFTS LAST TIME OUT
Williams cruised to a 30-7 victory last week by limiting Tufts to 78 yards passing, 57 yards rushing and seven first downs. Williams opened the scoring with a 47-yard drive for a field goal in the middle of the first quarter, adding a one-yard touchdown run later in the frame to make it 10-0. Starting on their own 30 with 1:56 to go until halftime, the Ephs used a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Tufts and several passing completions to set up 1st-and-10 on the Tufts 13. On the next play, a 13-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds to go in the half gave Williams a 17-0 lead.
Tufts finally found some life after getting the ball with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter, as junior Michael Durkin carried the ball five straight times for 43 yards. Senior quarterback Tom McManama passed for 31 yards to junior Steve Cusano to the Williams 2-yard line, and junior running back Pat Bailey finished the drive on a third-down play and the Jumbos were within 17-7.
Williams responded with a 20-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-7, but the Jumbos moved the ball again on their next possession. McManama converted a 4th-and-1 from the Williams 44 with a two-yard run, and a 22-yard McManama-to-Cusano connection set Tufts up for a 1st-and-10 on the Ephs' 20. That was followed by a 14-yard McManama toss to junior Billy Mahler down to the 6-yard line, but Tufts failed to score when it couldn't get the ball into the end zone and sophomore kicker Adam Auerbach missed a 22-yard field goal. The Ephs added on another touchdown with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that was finished with a 13-yard rush with 1:40 remaining, sealing the victory for the Ephs.
Amherst is looking to win its first six games for the first time since the 2001 quad won its first seven. The Lord Jeffs have been consistently impressive on defense, allowing 13 points or fewer in each of their first five games. Amherst leads the NESCAC in several defensive categories, including scoring defense (9.4 ppg), turnover margin (+10), rushing defense (42.0 ypg), red zone defense (9-for-19; 47.4%), sacks (24) and passing efficiency defense (94.8). Those numbers are equally impressive at the national level, with the Jeffs leading all of Division III in rushing defense and sacks per game (4.8) while entering the week tied for third in red zone defense and turnover margin, fourth in scoring defense and fifth in tackles-for-loss per game (9.6).
Although Amherst’s defense has received significant contributions from several players, senior Fred Argir has perhaps been the most impressive. Argir leads all of Division III in passes defended per game (2.6) with NESCAC highs in interceptions (5) and pass breakups (8), recording two interceptions in each of his past two games. Classmate Fran Florio has picked off three passes of his own, as Amherst has recorded at least one interception in each of its five games and at least three interceptions in three games. Also standing out on defense has been senior inside linebacker Mike Taylor and his team-leading 55 tackles, while Edwin Urey, Jeff Katz and Kevin Ferber each have at least 4.0 sacks as some of the NESCAC’s best pass rushers.
Fred Argir '10 leads Division III in passes defended per game (2.6)
Amherst’s offense might not be the most potent in the NESCAC, but it has certainly been good enough to give the defense some breathing room. Junior quad-captain Alex Vetras has been sacked only four times as the conference’s fourth most efficient quarterback, throwing for 997 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Vetras has thrown a touchdown pass to six different players, with seven Lord Jeff receivers averaging at least 10.0 yards per game. The running game has also begun to find its rhythm, as Amherst ran for a season-high 158 yards last week against Wesleyan. Senior Aaron Rauh rushed for a pair of touchdowns against the Cardinals to bring his career total to 18.
An inability to find the end zone has led to a disappointing 2009 season for Tufts, which ranks last in the NESCAC in scoring offense (10.6 ppg), passing offense (121.6 ypg), rushing defense (146.4 ypg), first downs per game (12.2) and PAT kicking (2-for-5; 40%). At 2-3, the Jumbos are looking to avoid their first losing season since the 2005 squad finished at 2-6. Their 53 points mark the lowest five-game total in more than a decade, as the Jumbos have been held to seven points or fewer on three occasions this year. Tufts has held its opponent to 10 points or fewer three times but managed to win only one of those games.
Tufts will be looking to match the performance it put in against Bowdoin College, when the Jumbos ran for 266 yards during a 25-22 overtime victory. In order to do so the Jumbos will need to turn to junior Pat Bailey, who ranks third in the NESCAC in all-purpose yards per game (136.4). In the first five games, Bailey has been the team’s leader in receiving (249 yards, 2 touchdowns) and rushing (254 yards, 1 touchdown) while also handling punt returns. On defense, Tufts has once again been led by preseason All-America selection Tom Tassinari, who is averaging more than 10 tackles per game as a standout defensive back.
|LORD JEFF OFFENSE|
WR - Brian Murphy - 4
WR - Sean Legister - 89
WR - Brandon Bullock - 21
TE - Dan Savage - 80
RB - Aaron Rauh - 11
LT - Wyatt Moss - 57
LG - Rick Morgan - 62
C - John Ceccio - 54
RG - Marcus Richtel - 76
RT - Ian Mahoney - 70
QB - Alex Vetras - 12
P/K - Matt Rawson - 94
|LORD JEFF DEFENSE|
DT - Edwin Urey - 99
NG - Tom Grossi - 97
DT - Eric Pender - 92
ILB - Mike Taylor - 40
ILB - Brandon Quinn - 31
OLB - Jeff Katz - 98
OLB - Sam Clark - 34
CB - Nick Edwards - 25
CB - Fran Florio - 24
S - Chris Govey - 10
S - Fred Argir - 3
PR - Femi Oyalowo - 5
QB - Tom McManama - 7
TB - Darren Ferguson - 22
FB - N. Hatfield-Biondo - 48
WR - Billy Mahler - 2
WR - Steve Cusano - 80
TE - Nick Croteau - 83
LT - A.J. Carreiro - 78
LG - Tom Didio - 71
C - Ralph Faia - 55
RG - Andrew Daley - 50
RT - Adam Wueger - 56
PK - Adam Auerbach - 49
DE - Dan Stebbins - 75
DT - Mike Cunningham - 86
DT - Alex Gresham - 84
DE - Donnie Simmons - 91
LB - Brian Danshaw - 6
LB - Ferras Albitar - 44
LB - Matthew Murray - 34
CB - Will Miller - 25
SS - Alex Perry - 5
FS - Tom Tassinari - 21
CB - Andrew Elfman - 30
P - Tim Puopolo - 8
2009 STATISTICAL LEADERS
Alex Vetras (112-of-201/997 yds/8 TD/4 INT)
Femi Oyalowo (48 att/154 yds/1 TD)
Aaron Rauh (58 att/132 yds/3 TD)
Brian Murphy (29 recs/270 yds/2 TD)
Brandon Bullock (26 recs/197 yds/2 TD)
Mike Taylor (55 tackles/6.5 TFL/2.0 sacks/1 FF)
Fred Argir (38 tackles/5 INT/8 breakups)
Tom McManama (50-of-108/608 yds/4 TD/2 INT)
Pat Bailey (75 att/254 yds/1 TD)
Darren Ferguson (39 att/88 yds/0 TD)
Pat Bailey (16 recs/249 yds/2 TD)
Billy Mahler (9 recs/94 yds/0 TD)
Tom Tassinari (53 tackles/0.5 TFL/3 breakups)
Matt Murray (42 tackles/1.5 TFL/1.0 sacks)
TEAM STATISTICAL COMPARISONS
A: 77.0 ypg
T: 121.6 ypg
A: 209.8 ypg
T: 121.6 ypg
A: 286.8 ypg
T: 243.2 ypg
A: 20.0 ppg
T: 10.6 ppg
A: 42.0 ypg
T: 146.4 ypg
A: 273.0 ypg
T: 154.4 ypg
A: 315.0 ypg
T: 300.8 ypg
A: 9.4 ppg
T: 15.2 ppg