Week 3 Football Game Preview: Amherst @ Middlebury

DefenseAmherst is allowing a mere 54.0 rushing yards per game for the lowest average in the NESCAC and the 12th lowest in the nation.Amherst College (2-0)
vs.
Middlebury College (1-1)

October 4, 2008
Middlebury, VT * 1:30 p.m.
Youngman Field/Alumni Stadium

WEBCAST INFORMATION
Saturday's game between Amherst and Middlebury will feature a live video webcast and live audio broadcast courtesy of Middlebury.

THIS WEEK IN THE NESCAC

Trinity @ Hamilton (12:30 p.m.)
Wesleyan @ Colby (1 p.m.)
Tufts @ Bowdoin (1 p.m.)
Williams @ Bates (1 p.m.)
Amherst @ Middlebury (1:30 p.m.)

THE SERIES
Amherst holds a slim 18-15 series edge over Middlebury, but the teams are an even 5-5 against one another in the last 10 meetings. Since 1998, five of the 10 games have been decided by four points or fewer, with neither team winning by more than 17 points during that stretch. The Panthers hold a two-game winning streak over the Jeffs and are attempting to win three consecutive meetings for the first time since they took four straight from 1990-93. Playing at home has hardly been an advantage for either program as of late, with Amherst winning three of its last five games at Middlebury and the Panthers winning three of their last five at Pratt Field.

LAST MEETING
In last year’s meeting, Amherst and Middlebury put their undefeated records on the line in what was expected to be a close game between two defensive powerhouses. The visiting Panthers’ 19-9 halftime lead proved to be too much for the Jeffs to overcome, as Middlebury hung on for the crucial 19-16 victory. Amherst dropped to 2-1 on the season, while the Panthers improved to a perfect 3-0.

After Amherst went three-and-out on its first possession to begin the game, running back David Randolph ’08 capped an impressive drive with a 32-yard scamper into the end zone and Jack Britton ’08 converted the extra point to give the Panthers an early 7-0 lead. Middlebury would get as close as Amherst’s 2-yard line on its next possession, but the Jeffs held the visitors to just a field goal, as Britton made it a 10-0 game with 3:33 remaining in the opening quarter.

After a three-and-out possession, Keith Erzinger ’08 placed a beautiful punt deep in the Middlebury zone to start the Panthers on their own 2-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Guy Matisis ’09 made a big stop well behind the line of scrimmage, as the Jeffs put two points on the board with a safety and regained possession. Amherst took advantage of Matisis’ great play, and used a good combination of the air attack and ground attack to march down inside the Middlebury 10-yard line, setting up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Lucas Loeffler ’10 to Brandon Bullock ’10. Matt Eberhart ’10 nailed the extra point to complete the drive, as Amherst trailed 10-9 with 12:50 to play in the second quarter.

Four minutes later, Don McKillop ’11 faced fourth-and-two but was able to pick up the two crucial yards using his legs, setting up a 10-yard touchdown run on the next play. After the extra point conversion, Middlebury held a 17-9 lead with 5:38 showing on the clock. The Amherst offense once again went three-and-out on its next possession, but this time failed to send a clean snap to Erzinger, as the ball sailed over his head and into the end zone, resulting in the second safety of the game. The Panthers’ lead increased to 19-9 after the two points, which is where the game stood heading into halftime.

Offense
Amherst's offense has averaged a NESCAC-best 30.5 points per game in '08.
The third quarter featured much more of the defensive battle that people expected, and the fourth quarter was much of the same. It wasn’t until there were two minutes and 40 seconds remaining in regulation that the Jeffs began another scoring drive, converting on a pair of 4th-and-10 situations before Loeffler threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Bullock, as the Jeffs found themselves trailing 19-16 with only 63 seconds to work with. Amherst’s only option was to attempt an on-side kick, but Middlebury was able to come up with the ball and run out the clock for a nail-biting 19-16 win.

AMHERST LAST TIME OUT
The Lord Jeffs ran for 278 yards and three touchdowns to hang on for a 31-24 win over Bowdoin. Leading the Amherst offense was the one-two running back punch of junior Aaron Rauh and senior Eric NeSmith. Rauh finished the day with a game- and season-high 121 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown, while NeSmith just missed the 100-yard mark with 95 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries. Sophomore Femi Oyalowo mixed into the ball-carrying scheme nicely with 53 yards and a score on 12 touches.

Amherst led 10-7 at the half and held on to possession for nearly 10 minutes in the third quarter en route to a pair of rushing touchdowns, as the Jeffs headed into the final quarter with what looked like a comfortable 24-7 lead. Bowdoin would not quit easily though, scoring back-to-back touchdowns early in the final frame. 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 and sophomore Brandon Quinn helped force a turnover-on-downs.

MIDDLEBURY LAST TIME OUT
Colby held off a late charge by Middlebury as the Mules picked up a 24-19 win over the Panthers at Alfond Stadium in Maine, snapping a five-game winning streak for Middlebury that dated back to last season. The teams combined for 21 penalties that cost them a combined 231 yards, with the Panther penalties coming at some costly spots in the game. Colby out-gained the Panthers 223-55 on the ground, while the Panthers held a 343-92 advantage in the air.

After a scoreless first quarter, Colby took a 10-6 lead into the locker room before tacking on another seven points in the third while holding the Panthers scoreless. Trailing 24-13 Late in the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Don McKillop found Tim Dillon for 33 yards and then connected with Andrew Matson for an eight-yard scoring strike to make it a 24-19 game with 1:59 left to play. The ensuing onside kick failed as Colby was able to run out the clock and secure the win to move each team to 1-1 on the year.

PROBABLE STARTERS

LORD JEFF OFFENSE
WR - Jim Eckenrode - 1
WR - Ben Kettering - 84
WR - Brian Murphy - 4
TE - Dan Savage - 80
RB - Aaron Rauh - 11
LT - Sam Rudman - 79
LG - Tim Rose - 54
C - Justin Wiley - 72
RG - Wyatt Moss - 57
RT - Ryan Bone - 59
QB - Alex Vetras - 12
LORD JEFF DEFENSE
DT - Edwin Urey - 99
NG - Greg Smith - 50
DT - Eric Pender - 92
LB - Mike Taylor - 40
LB - Brandon Quinn - 31
OLB - Guy Matisis - 45
OLB - Jake Spadafora - 42
CB – A.J. Scola - 13
CB - Fran Florio - 24
S - Chris Govey - 10
S - Fred Argir - 3
PANTHER OFFENSE
TE - Charles Holm - 48
LT - Blake Berman - 60
LG -  Paul Bennett - 71
C - Brendan Kelly - 64       
RG - Alex Ryng - 66
RT - Jared Bean - 76
WR - Andrew Matson - 3
WR - Timothy Dillon - 5
QB - Donald McKillop - 16
FB - Andrew Bohling - 34
RB - Erik Rostad - 12
PANTHER DEFENSE
DL - David Ellis - 21
DL - Tom Brown - 95
DL - Sam White - 97
LB - Darren Small - 29
LB - Paul Carroll - 40
LB - Timothy Song - 54
LB - Eric Kamback - 38
DB - Tyler Owens - 22
DB - Connor Green - 35
DB - Michael Quinn - 42
DB - Brian Marcks - 31

Amherst Stat Leaders
PASSING
Alex Vetras (42-of-61/420 yds/4 TD/3 INT)
RUSHING
Aaron Rauh (35 att/155 yds/1 TD)
Eric NeSmith (27 att/137 yds/1 TD)
RECEIVING
Brandon Bullock (13 recs/137 yds/2 TD)
Ben Kettering (9 recs/82 yds/1 TD)
DEFENSE
Mike Taylor (1 INT/13 tackles/1 breakup)
Edwin Urey (10 tackles/1.5 TFL/1.5 sacks/1 breakup)
Middlebury Stat Leaders
PASSING
Don McKillop (55-of-70/687 yds/2 TD/4 INT)
RUSHING
Ryan Bohling (26 att/71 yds/3 TD)
Don McKillop (17 att/55 yds/2 TD)
RECEIVING
Andrew Matson (15 rec/291 yds/1 TD)
Tim Dillon (8 rec/102 yds/0 TD)
DEFENSE
Eric Kamback (27 tackles/2.0 TFL/1 breakup)
Brian Marcks (16 solo tackles/20 total tackles/1 breakup)

2008 Team Stats
Rushing Yards/Avg. 
A: 398 yds/199.0 avg.
M: 187 yds/93.5 avg.

Passing Yards/Avg.
A: 420 yds/210.0 avg.
M: 687 yds/343.5 avg.


Total Offense/Avg.
A: 818 yds/409.0 avg.
M: 874 yds/437.0 avg.

Total Points/Avg.
A: 61 pts/30.5 avg.
M: 61 pts/30.5 avg.


Rushing Allowed/Avg.
A: 108 yds/54.0 avg.
M: 382 yds/191.0 avg.

Passing Allowed/Avg.
A: 434 yds/217.0 avg.
M: 342 yds/171.0 avg.


Total Offense Allowed/Avg.  
A: 542 yds/271.0 avg.
M: 724 yds/362.0 avg.

Total Points Allowed/Avg.  
A: 30 pts/15.0 avg.
M: 52 pts/26.0 avg.