Week 5 Preview: Amherst vs. Wesleyan

Amherst College (4-0) vs. WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY (2-2)
October 24, 2009 * Pratt Field
herst, MA * 1:00 p.m.
Junior Brian Murphy has caught two touchdown passes while leading the Jeffs in receptions (23) and receiving yards (222).

Amherst’s game against Wesleyan will feature live video and audio courtesy of JeffCast. Live statistics will also be available.

Colby (1-3) @ Hamilton (1-3) - 12 p.m.
Bowdoin (2-2) @ Trinity (4-0) - 12:30 p.m.
Middlebury (1-3) @ Bates (0-4) - 1 p.m.
Tufts (2-2) @ Williams (3-1) - 1:30 p.m.

Amherst held a slim 42-35-9 advantage over Wesleyan through the first 86 meetings dating back to the inaugural matchup in 1882, but the Lord Jeffs have taken charge of this Little Three rivalry by winning 22 of their last 28 games against the Cardinals and 14 of their past 15. Wesleyan last got the best of Amherst in 2002 when, during a regionally televised game on NESN, the Cardinals pulled out a 14-13 victory on Pratt Field. Since then, however, the Jeffs have outscored Wesleyan 184-22 and have posted three shutouts.

Amherst drove 77 yards on 10 plays, eight of them on the ground and two through the air, en route to the go-ahead touchdown with 12:48 remaining in the fourth quarter, and it held up as the game winner as the Lord Jeffs captured a 17-10 victory over Wesleyan to improve to 4-1.

Amherst used a balanced offense in generating 377 yards on the afternoon, 175 via the pass and 202 on the ground. Scoring the game-winning touchdown as the deep man in Amherst’s three-running back, short-yardage power eye formation was Aaron Rauh ’10 from two yards out. He finished the game with 23 carries for 94 yards to pace the Lord Jeff ground game. Alex Vetras ’11completed 21 of 33 passes for 175 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown strike for the game's opening score at 1:25 of the first quarter. Vetras’ top target on the day was Brian Murphy ’11, who grabbed five passes for 78 yards.

Wesleyan, which combined for 130 yards of offense in its two scoring drives, got an eight-play, 53-yard series that culminated in a six-yard touchdown catch by Vince Miller ’12 that tied the score at 11:46 of the second period. The second scoring drive covered 77 yards on 14 plays but left Wesleyan with a 4th-and-goal situation at the Amherst 5-yard line. On came senior kicker Chris Helsel to give the Cardinals a 10-7 lead with a 22-yard field goal at the 3:39 mark of the second quarter. Amherst responded with its own 22-yard field goal by Matt Eberhart ’10 just nine seconds before halftime. Amherst went 50 yards on 11 plays to set up the tying boot, making it 10-10 at intermission.

Sophomore Eric Bunker returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Amherst scored nine unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 23-13 win over Colby last Saturday. With the score tied at 7-7 in the third quarter, Bunker made a huge special teams play with his blocked punt and returned it four yards for the touchdown to give Amherst the lead for good at 14-7. Colby fought back and scored on its next drive when sophomore quarterback Nick Kmetz hit tight end Spencer Merwin on a 13-yard pass with 6:08 to play. The Mules, however, missed the extra point attempt and trailed 14-13.

Amherst outside linebacker Jeff Katz gave his team two points when he sacked Kmetz in the end zone for a safety with 12:31 to play in the fourth quarter to put the Lord Jeffs up by a field goal at 16-13. Kmetz was looking left on the play and missed Katz coming right at him. Amherst got another big defensive play when Fred Argir made an interception at the Lord Jeff 44-yard line and returned it 25 yards to the Colby 31. The Mules had two personal fouls on the play to bring the ball to the 8-yard line, and two plays later Femi Oyalowo scampered in from six yards out for the final points of the game.

Recovering from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit, Wesleyan took a 21-20 lead in the third period and added a fourth-quarter touchdown to hold off visiting Bates for a 28-20 victory last Saturday. Wesleyan never led until junior Steve Hauser caught his third touchdown pass of the contest, a four-yarder to the left-front corner of the end zone from sophomore quarterback Blake DuBois. Hauser’s catch came at 2:51 of the third quarter and the extra point by sophomore Matt Alexander spotted the Cardinals their first advantage at 21-20.

The first touchdown strike from DuBois to Hauser was an 11-yard reception that capped a 13-play, 70-yard march, the longest drive of the day in both distance and time (6:13) by either team. His second touchdown catch, a four-yarder at 1:20 of the second frame, came after Wesleyan took possession at the Bates 43-yard line following a fumbled punt snap. A facemask penalty on Bates and a 15-yard catch-and-run by sophomore Vince Miller accounted for 30 of the needed 43 yards. Bates did regain the lead on its first series of the second half on a 27-yard touchdown reception before Hauser gave the Cardinals the lead for good.

Amherst has scored only 77 points—the program’s lowest total through four games since the 1999 squad scored 54—but has managed to get off to its first 4-0 start since 2004 thanks to exceptional defense. The Lord Jeffs have yet to allow more than 13 points in any contest and have surrendered a conference-low five touchdowns, as their 11.8 points-allowed-per-game average ranks third in the NESCAC behind Trinity (11.5) and Tufts (11.5).

Boasting arguably the best group of defensive backs in the league, Amherst features four players with at least two interceptions on the season, while no other NESCAC team has more than two players with two picks. Seniors Fran Florio (2 INT) and Fred Argir (3 INT) highlight the group as the conference’s leaders in passes defended. The defensive line has been equally impressive, as the Jeffs have sacked opposing quarterbacks a NESCAC-high 19 times and are allowing a mere 49.0 rushing yards per game. Senior Edwin Urey leads the conference with 5.0 sacks, with junior outside linebacker Jeff Katz close behind with 4.5 sacks. Amherst is averaging 223.2 passing yards per game (3rd in the NESCAC) but ranks ninth in rushing yards per contest (56.8).

Wesleyan has featured one of the NESCAC’s toughest defenses through the first four weeks of the season. Opponents are averaging 73.8 yards per contest on the ground and only 199.8 through the air, giving the Cardinals the second best total defense in the conference (273.5 ypg). Wesleyan’s opponents have converted third down opportunities a mere 22.6 percent of the time, marking the best average in the NESCAC.

The Cardinals are averaging 95.8 rushing yards per game, but their production on the ground has decreased each week. After running for 163 yards against Tufts and 113 versus Hamilton, Wesleyan combined for only 117 yards against Colby and Bates. In addition to reviving its running game, Wesleyan will look to get into a passing rhythm while limiting its penalties, as the Cardinals rank ninth in the NESCAC in passing offense, red zone offense and penalty yards per game.

Today marks the fourth time this decade Amherst has put an undefeated record on the line against Wesleyan. The Lord Jeffs cruised to victory in 2001 (23-0) and 2004 (38-3) to improve to 5-0 on each occasion, but the Cardinals handed their Little Three rivals a 14-13 loss in 2002 to ruin the drive for a perfect season. Wesleyan has struggled here at Pratt Field in recent years, with the Jeffs posting three consecutive shutouts from 2001 to 2005 before earning a 28-9 victory in 2007.


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
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
LT - Andrew Erlagen - 65
LG - Tim Lee - 51
C - Nick Seara - 60
RG - Matt Sheeks - 69
RT - Zach Sadler - 55
TE - Mike Ferris - 27
QB - Blake DuBois - 7
RB - Shea Dwyer - 5
WR - Mike Dudley - 10
WR - Steve Hauser - 18
WR - Pete Modera - 9
PK - Matt Alexander - 80
DL - Mandela Kazi - 90
DL - Nick Ferris - 98
DL - Pete Sugarbaker - 95
OLB - A.J. Chan - 42
ILB - Cyprian Oyomba - 28
ILB - Colin Hartwig - 49
OLB - Rob Cook - 26
S - Justin Freres - 46
S - Cameron Davila - 2
CB - Derrick Williams - 21
CB - Jordan Greene - 24
P - Kyle Weiss - 3




Alex Vetras (94-of-167/841 yds/7 TD/2 INT)
Femi Oyalowo (33 att/103 yds/1 TD)
Aaron Rauh (44 att/86 yds/1 TD)
Brian Murphy (23 recs/222 yds/2 TD)
Brandon Bullock (22 recs/149 yds/2 TD)
Mike Taylor (43 tackles/4.5 TFL/1 FF)
Fred Argir (33 tackles/3 INT/7 breakups)
Blake DuBois (36-of-85/486 yds/3 TD/5 INT)
Shea Dwyer (46 att/225 yds/2 TD)
Vince Miller (38 att/151 yds/0 TD)
Steve Hauser (6 recs/58 yds/3 TD)
Paulie Lowther (7 recs/177 yds/0 TD)
Justin Freres (42 tackles/3.5 TFL/1.0 sacks)
Cyprian Oyomba (26 tackles/1 INT/3.0 sacks)











Rushing Yards
A: 227 yds/56.8 avg.
W: 383 yds/95.8 avg.

Passing Yards
A: 893 yds/223.2 avg.
W: 672 yds/168.0 avg.
Total Offense
A: 1,120 yds/280.0 avg.
W: 1,055 yds/263.8 avg.

Total Points
A: 77 pts/19.2 avg.
W: 62 pts/15.5 avg.
Rushing Allowed
A: 196 yds/49.0 avg.
W: 295 yds/73.8 avg.

Passing Allowed
A: 1,170 yds/292.5 avg.
W: 799 yds/199.8 avg.
Total Offense Allowed
A: 1,366 yds/341.5 avg.
W: 1,094 yds/273.5 avg.

Total Points Allowed
A: 47 pts/11.8 avg.
W: 65 pts/16.2 avg.