Amherst Dominates Running Game to Take Down Bowdoin, 30-6

Junior Eric NeSmith picked up 131 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Amherst offense.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College football team gained an astonishing 331 yards on the ground while allowing visiting Bowdoin College to rack up a net of only 23 rushing yards, as the Lord Jeffs cruised to a 30-6 win in their home-opener. Amherst improves to 2-0 on the season, while the Polar Bears move to an even 1-1.

After Bowdoin won the coin toss and chose to defer, Amherst received the kickoff and put junior running back Eric NeSmith (Newark, NJ) right to work. The Jeffs handed the ball to NeSmith nine times during the opening drive, allowing him to earn the first 41 of his 131 yards and march his team down to the Bowdoin nine-yard line. NeSmith fumbled the ball on his ninth carry, but senior Mike Myers (Foxboro, MA) was in the right place at the right time, as he picked up the loose ball and ran into the end zone. Sophomore Matt Eberhart (Plano, TX) sent his extra-point attempt through the uprights to give Amherst an early 7-0 lead.

Bowdoin could not put anything significant together on its opening drive, allowing the Jeffs to go right back to work, this time allowing sophomore Lucas Loeffler (New York, NY) to throw his first pass attempts of the game. Amherst quickly stormed down the field and back into Bowdoin territory, using the running tandem of sophomore Aaron Rauh (Hudson, OH) and senior tri-captain Chris Gillyard (Baltimore, MD). It was NeSmith, however, who was handed the ball on the Polar Bears’ 22-yard line, as he scampered into the end zone with a long run, once again allowing Eberhart to add the finishing touch, giving the Jeffs a 14-0 lead with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.

The beginning of the second quarter did not fare much better for Bowdoin, as quarterback Oliver Kell was picked off by junior A.J. Scola (Holden, MA). Amherst was able to work its way to the Bowdoin 27-yard line, but Eberhart’s 44-yard field goal attempt sailed just wide right.

The Amherst defense came up big once again, however, as the Jeffs forced another Bowdoin punt just three minutes later. Rauh, Loeffler and Gillyard brought Amherst back into striking distance to set up another field goal attempt, with Eberhart connecting this time to bring the Jeffs’ lead to 17-0 with time running out in the half.

The teams traded possessions to open the second half, when it looked as though Amherst was primed to score its third touchdown, but a Gillyard fumble on the Bowdoin four-yard line handed the ball back to the Polar Bears. Not to be outdone, Scola once again came through for the defense and picked off Kell on a 3rd-and-13 attempt, running the ball back 15 yards to the three-yard line. Following up on his three-short-yardage touchdown performance from last week, Rauh once again pounded his way into the end zone, as the Jeffs jumped out to a 24-0 lead with 2:21 showing on the clock and held on to take that lead into the final quarter.

Bowdoin got on the board in the fourth quarter when Matt Moran ran back an Amherst punt 34 yards to bring his team to the opposing 34-yard line, allowing Kell to drive into the red zone and complete the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Nick Tomaino. The Polar Bears’ two-point conversion attempt failed, however, as Amherst held a 24-6 lead midway through the quarter.

The Polar Bears attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Amherst recovered the ball on Bowdoin’s 39-yard line. After handing the ball to Rauh on seven consecutive plays, NeSmith capped off the drive with a six-yard scamper into the end zone. With the failed extra point attempt that followed, the Jeffs took a 30-6 lead that they would hold for the rest of the game. Junior quarterback Brian Conti was able to drive Bowdoin into the red zone and as close as three yards away from paydirt, but Amherst came up with a stop on fourth down to regain possession. The Jeffs were able to take a knee and run out the clock, holding on for the 30-6 win.

Rauh finished with 159 rushing yards to go along with NeSmith’s 131, while Gillyard gained 30 yards on eight carries. Loeffler completed 6-of-14 passes for 59 yards, with Myers gaining 27 yards on a pair of receptions. Senior Nick Boehm (Shaker Heights, OH) led the defense with five solo tackles and eight in total, while senior Chris Mottau (Holliston, MA) made four solo tackles and assisted on three others.

Kell completed 17-of-30 pass attempts for 170 yards, a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Four Bowdoin receivers chalked up at least 20 yards, with Ian Merry leading the way with 65 yards on four catches. Matt Leotti and Mike McClellan each had six solo tackles, with Kevin Zikaris, Scott Roman and Leotti leading the way with nine total tackles each.

The Lord Jeffs return to Pratt Field next weekend for a much-anticipated match-up with Middlebury College. The Panthers handed the Jeffs their first loss of 2006, as they held the Amherst offense to a mere three points to hold on for a 7-3 victory.