Football Improves to 2-0 with 31-24 Win at Bowdoin

Junior Aaron Rauh had 121 yards
and a TD on 25 carries.
BRUNSWICK, ME - After what had been a tough day for Amherst College sports fans at Bowdoin College, the Lord Jeff football team held on for a 31-24 win over the Polar Bears to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Jeffs ran for 278 yards and three touchdowns by three different running backs in the win.

Leading the Amherst offense was the one-two running back punch of junior Aaron Rauh (Hudson, OH) and senior Eric NeSmith (Newark, NJ). Rauh finished the day with a game- and season-high 121 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown. NeSmith just missed the 100-yard mark, with 95 yards on just 15 carries, and one touchdown.  Sophomore Femi Oyalowo (Bowie, MD) mixed into the ball-carrying scheme nicely with 53 yards and a score on a dozen touches.

Amherst started the game slowly but took a 3-0 lead with 6:22 to play in the first quarter on a 24-yard field goal by sophomore Matt Eberhart (Plano, TX).  After the ensuing kickoff, Amherst held Bowdoin to a short possession that ended with a punt.

The Jeffs looked to expand on their early lead, only to have a pass by sophomore quarterback Alex Vetras (Clyde Hill, WA) picked off by Bowdoin middle linebacker Kevin Zikaras. He took the pick 31 yards before being tackled at the Amherst 31-yard line. Bowdoin needed just over two minutes to get the ball to paydirt, scoring on a fade route to the left corner of the endzone. Bowdoin quarterback Oliver Kell found Ian Merry for the score on a 15-yard toss.

The Jeffs responded with the only other points of the first half, scoring with 6:15 left to play in the second quarter on a six-yard pass from Vetras to sophomore wideout Ben Kettering (Fairmont, WV). The touchdown capped a 12-play, 71-yard drive for Amherst, and sent the two teams into the locker room with the Jeffs up 10-7.

The third quarter saw the Amherst tandem of Rauh and NeSmith take over the game. During the frame, the Jeffs held on to possession for a whopping 9:55 en route to a pair of rushing touchdowns. Rauh scored on a 10-yard scamper up the middle, before NeSmith fought through traffic to dive in for a six-yard effort of his own.

Senior Eric NeSmith had 95 yards and a
score on just 15 carries.
Leading into the final quarter, Amherst held what looked like a commanding 24-7 lead. Bowdoin would not quit easily though, and scored back-to-back touchdowns early in the final frame. After the NeSmith score late in the third quarter, Bowdoin returned the following kickoff 62 yards to the Amherst 30 yard line. The Polar Bears needed just six plays and 1:25 to score on a swing pass to Ian Vieira with 13:39 to play in the final quarter.

Bowdoin forced a three-and-out from Amherst, and took the ball back near midfield. The Polar Bears marched 51 yards in just over one minute to score once again, this time on a 35-yard connection from Kell to Kevin Raymond on the right sideline. The touchdown closed the gap to 24-21 with over 10 minutes remaining.

With the lead down to three points, Amherst put together a decisive 10-play, 67-yard drive, capped by a four-yard Oyalowo touchdown run up the gut. Bowdoin added a field goal with three minutes to play, but ran out of gas after a sack by senior Jake Spadafora (New London, NH) and sophomore Brandon Quinn (Atlanta, GA) helped force a turnover-on-downs.

The Amherst defense gave up 24 points on the day, including 17 in the final quarter, but picked up a crucial stand when it mattered most. Mike Taylor (Evanston, IL) led the unit with seven tackles and an interception. Both A.J. Scola (Holden, MA) and Fran Florio (Staten Island, NY) performed well in the secondary, grabbing six solo tackles apiece.

The Bowdoin defense was led by Zikaras, who finished the day with 14 tackles and a pick. Matt Leotti and Chris Martin both finished in double-digits for tackles with 12 and 11, respectively.

In the battle of quarterbacks, Bowdoin's Kell had the better day, going 20-of-37 for 202 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Amherst's Vetras finished with 181 yards and one touchdown, on 17-of-27 passing with two picks.

Amherst will take to the road once again next week, facing Middlebury at 1:30 p.m., while Bowdoin will host Tufts next Saturday at 1 p.m.