Week 5 Football Game Preview: Amherst @ Wesleyan

AmherstAmherst College (3-1)
Wesleyan University (1-3)

October 18, 2008 * Andrus Field at Corwin Stadium
Middletown, CT * 1 p.m.

Saturday's game between Amherst and Wesleyan will feature a live video Webcast courtesy of Wesleyan University.

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

Amherst held a slim42-35-9 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 21 of their last 27 games against the Cardinals and 13 of their last 14. 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 167-12 and have posted three shutouts.

In 2007, Amherst controlled the tempo against Wesleyan by rushing for 256 yards on 50 carries, as the Lord Jeffs picked up a 28-9 victory to improve to 4-1 and drop the Cardinals to 3-2. Amherst kicked off to Wesleyan to start the game, but A.J. Scola ’09 intercepted Cardinal quarterback Zach Librizzi in the opening drive to give the Jeffs possession at the 50-yard line. After a 40-yard reception by Jim Eckenrode ’09, Aaron Rauh ’10 took over and finished off the drive with a 2-yard scamper into the end zone, as Amherst jumped out to a 7-0 lead after three minutes and 19 seconds of first-quarter action.

The Jeffs held a 10-3 lead with 10:52 remaining in the first half after the teams traded field goals. Amherst put together an impressive drive that featured a 44-yard run from Eric NeSmith ’09 and a 29-yard pass from Lucas Loeffler ’10 to Mike Myers ’08 that placed the ball on the 1-yard line, setting up another Amherst touchdown that gave the hosts a 17-3 lead with 6:21 showing on the clock.

Rauh ran for five yards on the first play of the Jeffs’ next drive before breaking out a 55-yard touchdown run on the second play, as it took Amherst only 52 seconds to pick up its third touchdown. After a botched snap on the ensuing extra point attempt turned into a two-point conversion, Amherst held a commanding 25-3 lead heading into halftime.

Wesleyan struck first in the third quarter with its first touchdown of the game when a 54-yard drive was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Shea Dwyer ’10. The extra point attempt was blocked, as Guy Matisis ’09 got his hand on the ball to keep the Cardinals at nine points. The third quarter whizzed by without nearly as much action as the first two, and the lone points of the final quarter came when Matt Eberhart ’10 nailed a 36-yard field goal to give Amherst a 28-9 lead, which is where the score remained until the final whistle.  

Amherst dominated visiting Colby College on both sides of the ball en route to a 23-2 victory last week at Pratt Field, as the Jeffs amassed 406 yards of total offense while limiting the Mules to just 106 total yards. The Mules had the momentum in the middle of the first quarter and seemed poised to strike first, but senior defensive back Fran Florio picked off a pass on a spectacular one-handed catch over the receiver’s helmet, returning the ball to Amherst’s 32-yard line to end the threat and mark his third interception of the year.

Amherst and sophomore quarterback Alex Vetras made the most of the Mules’ turnover and proceeded to march down the field, with sophomore Brian Murphy catching three passes on the ensuing drive, including a nine-yard touchdown grab early in the second quarter. The ball was tipped at the line on the ensuing extra point attempt, as Colby held the Jeffs to just a 6-0 lead.

In their next possession the Jeffs were able to get into field goal range, due in large part to a 19-yard rush by senior running back Eric NeSmith, with junior Matt Eberhart nailing a 39-yard kick to put the hosts up 9-0 with 9:16 left in the half. Amherst continued to roll on its next possession when NeSmith caught a screen pass from Vetras and, after cutting to the outside and receiving good blocks, took it to the house for a 77-yard play. The score came with just 1:18 remaining in the half and the Jeffs went into the locker room with a 16-0 lead.

Pratt Field

On the Mules’ opening second-half possession, sophomore Brandon Quinn and senior captain Guy Matisis picked up sacks on back-to-back plays to force the Mules to punt. In the ensuing possession, Vetras looked to junior running back Aaron Rauh, connecting on two short passes that led to gains of 32 and 11 yards to put the Jeffs at the 1-yard line. Rauh capped off the drive by pounding his way into the end zone to put the Jeffs on top, 23-0, with 11:43 to play in the third quarter.  

The Mules were able to threaten the Jeffs by getting into the red zone late in the third quarter, but junior defensive back Chris Govey picked off a pass in the end zone for his second interception of the season. During the ensuing drive, however, the Mules were able to get on the board when the Jeffs snapped the ball over Eberhart’s head and through the end zone for a safety on a punt attempt, as Colby trailed 23-2 with just 1:31 remaining in the third frame. Neither team would put any more points on the board, with Amherst hanging on for the 21-point victory. For picking up a team-high 10 tackles and recording 3.0 sacks, junior Eric Pender was named the NESCAC and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week.

Scoring on four of its first five possessions, Wesleyan rolled out to a 28-0 halftime lead and never looked back in defeating Bates College 35-8 for its 23rd victory over the Mules in 27 all-time meetings.

Using a methodical 12-play, 81-yard march to grab a 7-0 first-quarter lead, Wesleyan capped the drive with a 10-yard scoring pass from Blake DuBois to Kevin Leamy. On its next possession, Wesleyan covered 85 yards on 10 plays with DuBois doing the honors himself from one yard out. A fumble recovery by Bo Brown gave the Cardinals excellent field position just 1:40 later and it took only four plays for the team to navigate 28 yards to the end zone.  Greg McDonough found paydirt from three yards out to make it 21-0 with 9:40 remaining before halftime. 

Holding the Bobcats deep in their own territory to take over at the Bates 39-yard line following a punt, Wesleyan upped the margin to 28-0 when Vince Miller threaded through the line and dashed 23 yards for the score. It was 35-0 at the 10:46 mark of the third period as McDonough again crossed the goal line, this time from two yards away, putting the finishing touches on a 59-yard march on 10 plays. 

Over the five scoring drives, Wesleyan collected 292 of its 329 yards on the afternoon. Bates had only 207 total yards on the day, more than half of those coming in the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach. Standing for the Cards on special teams was Chris Helsel, who went 5-for-5 on extra points, punted three times for a 46.7-yard average, and boomed six kickoffs that were fielded by Bates on average at its 12-yard line. Helsel was honored as the NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week.


WR - Brandon Bullock - 21
WR - Ben Kettering - 84
WR - Brian Murphy - 4
TE - Jay Hebb - 81
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
DT- Edwin Urey - 99
NG - Greg Smith - 50
DT - Eric Pender - 92
ILB - Mike Taylor - 40
ILB - Brandon Quinn - 31
OLB - Guy Matisis - 45
OLB - Jake Spadafora - 42
CB - AJ Scola - 13
CB - Fran Florio - 24
S - Chris Govey - 10
S - Fred Argir - 3
OT - Andrew Erlagen - 65
OG - Garrett Rodgers - 75
C - Brett Valentine - 71
OG - Nick Seara - 60
OT - Alex Zedlovich - 69
TE - Mike Ferris - 27
QB - Blake DuBois - 19
RB - Taso Fotinos - 20
WR - Kevin Leamy - 29
WR - Steve Hauser - 18
WR - Ryan Walsh - 7
DE - Maciej Radkowski - 91
DT - Adam Schwartz - 96
DT - Pete Sugarbaker - 95
DE - Bo Brown - 33
LB - Dominic Gibson - 34
LB - Cyprian Oyomba - 28
LB - Pete Overman - 43
SS - Drew Dominguez - 21
FS - Cameron Davila - 36
CB - Derrick Williams - 25
CB - Andrew Fiola - 24



AMHERST Statistical Leaders
Alex Vetras (85-of-131/953 yds/7 TD/4 INT)
Aaron Rauh (62 att/231 yds/3 TD)
Eric NeSmith (46 att/206 yds/1 TD)
Brandon Bullock (20 recs/201 yds/2 TD)
Ben Kettering (18 recs/197 yds/2 TD)
Mike Taylor (32 tackles/1 INT/2.0 TFL/2 breakups)
Eric Pender (27 tackles/5.0 sacks)
Fran Florio (14 tackles/3 INT)
WESLEYAN Statistical Leaders
Blake DuBois (56-of-107/624 yds/3 TD/4 INT)
Vince Miller (11 att/85 yds/1 TD)
Greg McDonough (12 att/48 yds/2 TD)
Kevin Leamy (22 rec/213 yds/3 TD)
Ryan Walsh (13 rec/205 yds/0 TD)
Cyprian Oyomba (33 tackles/3.0 TFL)
Cameron Davila (22 tackles/1 INT/1.0 sacks)
Drew Dominguez (19 tackles/2 breakups)



Rushing Yards/Avg.       
A: 555 yds/138.8
W: 323 yds/80.8

Passing Yards/Avg.       
A: 953 yds/238.2
W: 726 yds/181.5

Total Offense/Avg.       
A: 1,508 yds/377.0
W: 1,049 yds/262.2

Total Points/Avg.  
A: 98 pts/24.5  
W: 63 pts/15.8

Rushing Allowed/Avg.   
A: 257 yds/64.2    
W: 686 yds/171.5

Passing Allowed/Avg.   
A: 708 yds/177.0
W: 566 yds/141.5

Total Offense Allowed/Avg.   
A: 965 yds/241.2
W: 1,252 yds/313.0

Total Points Allowed/Avg.   
A: 63 pts/15.8
W: 58 pts/14.5