Jeffs Hang on for 17-10 Win at Wesleyan

Junior defensive back Fred Argir had five solo tackles and an interception in the win.
Courtesy of Wesleyan Sports Information

MIDDLETOWN, CT – The Amherst College football team 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 (4-1) captured a 17-10 victory over Little Three rival Wesleyan University (1-4) this afternoon.

Amherst, ranked sixth in this week's New England Division III poll, used a balanced offense in generating 377 yards on the afternoon, 175 via the pass and 202 on the ground. Scoring the game-winning TD as the deep man in Amherst’s three-running back, short-yardage power eye formation was junior Aaron Rauh (Hudson, OH) from two yards out. He finished the game with 23 carries for 94 yards to pace the Lord Jeff ground game. 

Senior Eric NeSmith (Newark, NJ) added 12 carries for 76 yards while sophomore Femi Oyalowo (Bowie, MD) chipped in with six carries for 33 yards. Amherst sophomore Alex Vetras (Clyde Hill, WA) completed 21 of 33 passes for 175 yards, including a 13-yard connection with sophomore Ben Kettering (Fairmont, WV) for the game's opening TD at 1:25 of the first quarter. Vetras’ top target on the day was sophomore Brian Murphy (Evanston, IL), who grabbed five passes for 78 yards.

Wesleyan, which had 130 yards of offense from its two scoring drives, got an eight-play, 53-yard series that culminated in a six-yard TD catch by first-year Vince Miller that tied the score at 11:46 of the second period. The second covered 77 yards on 14 plays but left Wesleyan with a 4th-and-goal situation at the Amherst five-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 junior kicker Mark Eberhart (Plano, TX) just nine seconds before halftime. Amherst went 50 yards on 11 plays to set up the tying boot, making it 10-10 at intermission.

Amherst held Wesleyan without a first down during the Cardinals' first six possessions of the second half, and yielded just 27 yards during the stretch. Wesleyan gave up only two appreciable drives to the Lord Jeffs in the second half, one of which ended at the Wesleyan 23-yard line midway through the third period as Wesleyan held on a 4th-and-6 pass play when Cardinal first-year Derrick Williams batted away a pass to the end zone. Two series later, Rauh found paydirt for the winning points.

Wesleyan got a 26-for-45 passing effort from first-year Blake DuBois, good for 202 yards. Senior Kevin Leamy hauled in 14 passes for 96 yards, 10 of those catches coming in the first half. Wesleyan did get three first downs during its final two possessions of the game and reached Amherst territory both times. Both opportunities ended on Amherst interceptions, one by junior Chris Govey (Easton, MA) at the Amherst seven-yard line with 3:29 to go and the final by junior Fred Argir (Lakeville, MN) at the Amherst 21 with seven seconds left.

Amherst has claimed the first leg of the Little Three and hosts Williams Saturday, Nov. 8 in the final Little Three matchup. Before that, Wesleyan visits Williams Saturday, Nov. 1. Next week, Wesleyan hosts Bowdoin while Amherst gets a visit from Tufts.