Week 6 Football Preview: Amherst vs. Tufts

TuftsTufts and Amherst had to battle sloppy field conditions at Pratt Field in 2006, when the Lord Jeffs pulled out a 24-6 victory.
Amherst College (4-1)
Tufts University (3-2)

October 25, 2008 * Pratt Field
Amherst, MA * 1 p.m.

1. Trinity (5-0)
2. Amherst (4-1)
T3. Colby (3-2)
T3. Middlebury (3-2)
T3. Tufts (3-2)
T3. Williams (3-2)
7. Hamilton (2-3)
T8. Bowdoin (1-4)
T8. Wesleyan (1-4)
10. Bates (0-5)

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

Saturday's game between Tufts and Amherst will feature a live audio broadcast courtesy of Amherst's student radio station, WAMH.


Amherst has won 47 of 77 meetings with Tufts dating back to the inaugural matchup in 1877, but the Lord Jeffs and Jumbos are an even 3-3 in the past six years. Since 2002, these two teams have twice required an overtime period to determine a winner and have had their game decided by seven or fewer points three times. Each of the last three meetings, however, have been decided by at least 18 points, with Amherst winning by a combined score of 61-12 in 2005 and 2006 before Tufts earned a 29-10 victory last year in Medford. The Jumbos’ last win at Pratt Field came in 2004, when they pulled out a 10-3 upset to mark the Jeffs’ first loss of the season.

Behind three touchdown passes from quarterback Matt Russo ’08 and an outstanding effort on defense, Tufts remained in first place in the NESCAC standings with a decisive 29-10 victory over Amherst at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field. The win improved the Jumbos to 5-1 overall—their best mark so late in the season since 1998—while Amherst fell to 4-2.

The Lord Jeffs had out-scored the Jumbos 61-12 during two straight wins in the series, but the Jumbos turned the table on the Lord Jeffs by earning a 19-point victory that was their biggest against Amherst since a 23-0 score in 1992. Tufts possessed the ball for 38:02, out-gained the Lord Jeffs 323 yards to 216 and won the turnover battle, 4-1.

Amherst entered the game leading the NESCAC in rushing with 185.2 yards per week but was limited to 72 yards on 28 carries by a tenacious Tufts defense. The Jumbo offense would take the spotlight, with Russo completing 20 of 26 passes for 205 yards and a trio of touchdowns, as he led his team to at least six points in each quarter.


The Jumbo defense established itself from the start after Russo was intercepted by Amherst linebacker Nick Boehm ’08 on his first pass of the day. With the Lord Jeffs taking over at the Jumbo 21-yard line, the Tufts defense was able to hold the visitors to a 32-yard field goal by Matt Eberhart ’10 with 12:39 remaining in the first quarter. On the ensuing possession, the Jumbos regrouped and drove for a touchdown that would give them the lead for good.

The Jeffs couldn’t get it going offensively all game, as their 67-yard touchdown drive with less than two minutes remaining in the game was their only possession on which they gained more than 40 yards.

Amherst 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 captured a 17-10 victory over Little Three rival Wesleyan last Saturday. Amherst generated 377 yards of total offense, 175 via the pass and 202 on the ground. Scoring the game-winning TD was junior Aaron Rauh from two yards out early in the fourth quarter.

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 got three first downs during its final two possessions of the game and reached Amherst territory both times, but each drive was thwarted by an Amherst interception, including one with only seven seconds left in the game. Junior Matt Eberhart, who kicked a game-tying field goal with nine seconds remaining in the first half, was named the NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week for his solid all-around performance.

Tufts defeated Williams College last week, 17-7, behind a stellar defensive effort on Ellis Oval/Zimman Field. The victory broke a 21-game Tufts winless streak (0-19-2) against the Ephs, who had won 15 in a row in the series. The Tufts defense allowed seven points and 227 yards to a Williams offense that was averaging 30.5 points and 430.8 yards per game this season.

The Jumbos had two take-aways defensively that led to touchdowns. The Ephs, who scored 50 points and had 590 yards of total offense against defending league champion Middlebury College last week, were held to 107 yards passing by the Jumbos, as Williams was just 3-for-17 on third down attempts. The Jumbo offense, meanwhile, was led again by 130 yards on 23 carries from senior tailback Will Forde, whose fifth consecutive game of more than 100 rushing yards earned him NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Tufts offense finished with just 10 first downs but was efficient in the red zone, scoring on all three appearances.

WR - Brandon Bullock
WR - Sean Legister
WR - Jim Eckenrode
TE - Jay Hebb
RB - Aaron Rauh
LT - Sam Rudman
LG - Tim Rose
C - Justin Wiley
RG - Wyatt Moss
RT - Ryan Bone
QB - Alex Vetras
DT - Edwin Urey
NG - Greg Smith
DT - Eric Pender
ILB - Mike Taylor
ILB - Brandon Quinn
OLB - Guy Matisis
OLB - Jake Spadafora
CB - AJ Scola
CB - Fran Florio
S - Chris Govey
S - Fred Argir
QB - Anthony Fucillo
TB - Will Forde
FB - Kevin Anderson
WR - David Halas
WR - Stephen Black
TE - Max Cassidy
LT - Geoff Kramer
LG - Tom Didio
C - David Libardoni
RG - Adam Wueger
RT - Adam Carreiro
DE - Ian Ritter
DT - Mike Cunningham
DT - Matt Williams
DE - Donnie Simmons
LB - Ryan Crisco
LB - Tyson Reynoso
LB - Matt Murray
CB - Will Miller
SS - Tom Tassinari
FS - Alex Perry
CB - Andrew Elfman



AMHERST Statistical Leaders
Alex Vetras (106-of-164/1,128 yds/8 TD/5 INT)
Aaron Rauh (85 att/325 yds/4 TD)
Eric NeSmith (58 att/282 yds/1 TD)
Brandon Bullock (25 rec/228 yds/2 TD)
Brian Murphy (22 rec/236 yds/1 TD)
Mike Taylor (1 INT/32 tackles/2 breakups/2.0 TFL)
Eric Pender (29 tackles/5.0 sacks/6.0 TFL)
TUFTS Statistical Leaders
Anthony Fucillo (64-of-106/923 yds/9 TD/3 INT)
Will Forde (132 att/655 yds/6 TD)
Kevin Anderson (27 att/108 yds/1 TD)
David Halas (20 rec/248 yds/6 TD)
Stephen Black (13 rec/295 yds/1 TD)
Tyson Reynoso (34 tackles/1.5 TFL/3 breakups)
Tom Tassinari (31 tackles/1 INT/3 breakups)



Rushing Yards/Per Game
A: 757 yds/151.4 avg.
T: 865 yds/173.0 avg.

Passing Yards/Avg.
A: 1,128 yds/225.6
T: 936 yds/187.2

Total Offense/Avg.
A: 1,885 yds/377.0
T: 1,801 yds/360.2

Total Points/Avg.
A: 115 pts/23.0
T: 124 pts/24.8

Rushing Allowed/Avg.
A: 260 yds/52.0 avg.
T: 407 yds/81.4 avg.

Passing Allowed/Avg.
A: 910 yds/182.0
T: 1,022 yds/204.4

Total Offense Allowed/Avg.
A: 1.170 yds/234.0
T: 1,429 yds/285.8

Total Points Allowed/Avg.
A: 73 pts/14.6
T: 84 pts/16.8