Week 7 Football Preview: Amherst @ Trinity

Amherst earned a 24-17 victory over Tufts this past Saturday to stay in the running for a NESCAC title.
Amherst College (5-1)
Trinity College (6-0)

November 1, 2008 * 1 p.m.
Hartford, CT * Jessee/Miller Field

1. Trinity (6-0)
2. Amherst (5-1)
3. Williams (4-2)
T4. Colby (3-3)
T4. Middlebury (3-3)
T4. Tufts (3-3)
T7. Bowdoin (2-4)
T7. Hamilton (2-4)
T9. Bates (1-5)
T9. Wesleyan (1-5)

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

Saturday’s game between the Lord Jeffs and the Bantams will feature a live video Webcast and a live audio broadcast courtesy of Trinity College.

The Lord Jeffs stand between the Bantams and their fourth outright NESCAC title, as Trinity can clinch sole possession of first place with a victory over Amherst. An Amherst victory, however, would leave each team with a 6-1 record and no guarantee of a conference crown. The Jeffs also have a chance to snap a pair of significant streaks, as the Bantams have won 30 consecutive home games and are flawless in 30 games played on artificial turf.

Neither Amherst nor Trinity won more than two consecutive meetings in this rivalry between 1973 and 1988, but since then the Bantams have put together winning streaks of seven and six games, with a Lord Jeff winning streak of six games sandwiched in between. Since 2002, Trinity has posted a record of 44-4 and averaged more than 30 points per contest while allowing only 8.4. Amherst has given the Bantams a run for their money during this stretch, losing by seven or fewer points on three occasions. Despite Trinity’s recent dominance, Amherst holds an overall edge in the series with a head-to-head record of 54-40-9.

Amherst held Trinity to three first-half points last year, but the Lord Jeffs could not muster up enough offense of their own, as the Bantams held on for a 13-9 victory at Pratt Field. Amherst converted on only one of its three appearances in the red zone, as one field goal was blocked by the Trinity defense and another was missed wide left. Trinity held a slim 3-0 lead after the opening quarter thanks to a 39-yard field goal from Adam Cox ’09, but the Jeffs tied things up with 5:52 remaining in the first half when John Howe ’11 nailed a 34-yarder of his own to mark his first field goal attempt and conversion of the season. The Amherst field goal drive began when defensive lineman Greg Smith ’09 recovered and returned a Trinity fumble 67 yards to the Bantam 9-yard line.

After a scoreless third quarter, Cox handed the lead back to Trinity on a 26-yard field goal with 8:07 remaining in regulation. Amherst failed to respond and went three-and-out, allowing the Bantams to string together an 11-play, 59-yard drive that was capped off by a 1-yard run from running back Oliver Starnes ’10. Starnes ran the ball 10 times during the drive, including a 27-yard gain to kick things off and his 1-yard leap over the Lord Jeff defense and into the end zone, as Trinity took a 13-3 lead with just 52 seconds to play. Quarterback Lucas Loeffler ’10 led the Jeffs on their lone touchdown drive of the game, completing passes of seven, 29 and 11 yards before connecting with Jim Eckenrode ’09 on a 27-yard touchdown bomb. Eckenrode’s catch concluded a six-play, 74-yard drive to cut Amherst’s deficit to four points, but the clock read 00:00 and the Jeffs’ comeback attempt came to a halt.

Each team punted the ball eight times and there were five total fumbles in the game, as the cold weather seemed to have a significant impact on each team’s offense. Trinity converted on all three of its fourth-down attempts and five out of 19 third-down attempts, while Amherst converted on only three of its 15 third-down opportunities.

Amherst looked phenomenal while scoring 24 first-half points against visiting Tufts University, but the Jumbos scored 17 consecutive points in the second half to cut their deficit to seven. The Lord Jeffs were able to hang on for the 24-17 win to improve to 5-1, while Tufts fell to 3-3 with the loss. Amherst entered Saturday’s game allowing a mere 54.0 rushing yards per game, an average that dropped to 41.0 (second best in Division III) after Tufts struggled in the ground game. The Lord Jeffs picked up eight sacks on the day for a total loss of 56 yards, giving the Jumbos a net loss of 14 rushing yards. The Jeffs, meanwhile, ran the ball 40 times for 125 yards.

After a 35-yard field goal provided the lone points of the first quarter to give the hosts a 3-0 lead, Amherst threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another to give Amherst a seemingly comfortable 24-0 lead at halftime. A Tufts interception was followed by a quick two-play drive that concluded with a 53-yard touchdown pass, as the Jumbos wasted no time getting on the board in the second half. The score remained at 24-7 after three quarters of play, with Tufts in the midst of another scoring drive. A 33-yard field goal was followed by another long touchdown pass to make it a 24-17 game with 7:21 to play, but the Jumbos would inch no closer thanks to a gritty Amherst defense that came up with a pair of huge sacks in the visitors’ final possession.

Sophomore Sam Viering returned a kickoff 85 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter to lead Trinity College to a 34-31 win over the visiting Middlebury College Panthers last week at Jessee/Miller Field.  Trinity, ranked No. 1 in New England, kept its record perfect at 6-0 with its eighth victory in a row and maintained a one-game lead over Amherst in the NESCAC. Viering broke free down the right sideline to give Trinity the lead for good, after Middlebury had taken a 31-27 lead on a 26-yard interception return just seconds earlier. The teams combined for 892 yards in total offense, with the quarterbacks combining for 667 yards and eight interceptions.  

The Panthers had taken a 10-0 lead after one quarter on a 12-yard scoring pass and a 36-yard field goal, but Trinity answered with a 43-yard touchdown pass and a 42-yard field goal. The Panthers took momentum into the break with a nine-yard touchdown strike, but Trinity scored twice in the third quarter on a 36-yard interception return to paydirt and a College-record tying 48-yard field goal to make it a 20-17 game. Each team put 14 points on the board in the final quarter, with the hosts coming out on top in the 34-31 nail-biter.

WR - Brian Murphy
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
PK - Matt Eberhart
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
P - Matt Eberhart
QB - Eric McGrath
RB - Ollie Starnes
LT - Michael Goulet
LG - Chris Cozza
C - Matt Santora
RG - Jared Kazanovicz
RT - Kevin Sun
TE - Andrew McDowell
WR - Joe Lennon
WR - Michael Galligan
WR - Connor Wells
PK - Adam Cox
NT - Adam Difulvio
DE - Chuks Ekwelum
DE - Kyle Williams
ILB - Tyler Berry
ILB - Francois Auzerais
OLB - Matt Allen
OLB - Ben Sherry
CB - Harryl Smith
CB - Michael O’Connor
FS - Conor Quinn
SS - John Marinelli
P - Grant Kunkel



Alex Vetras (132-of-202/1,374 yds/10 TD/6 INT)
Aaron Rauh (108 att/416 yds/5 TD)
Eric NeSmith (58 att/282 yds/1 TD)
Brandon Bullock (33 rec/311 yds/2 TD)
Brian Murphy (26 rec/264 yds/1 TD)
Mike Taylor (2 INT/39 tackles/2.0 sacks/5.0 TFL)
Jake Spadafora (38 tackles/3.5 sacks/7.0 TFL)
Special Teams
Matt Eberhart (5-for-5 FG/16-for-17 PAT)
Anthony Fucillo (64-of-106/923 yds/9 TD/3 INT)
Oliver Starnes (101 att/465 yds/4 TD)
Robert Jackson (78 att/305 yds/1 TD)
Michael Galligan (39 rec/559 yds/5 TD)
Connor Wells (32 rec/549 yds/4 TD)
Tyler Berry (52 tackles/5.0 TFL/2.0 sacks)
Matt Allen (37 tackles/1 INT/5.5 TFL)
Special Teams
Sam Viering (7 kick returns/1 TD/26.6 avg.)



Rushing Yards/Avg.
A: 882 yds/147.0
T: 813 yds/135.5

Passing Yards/Avg.
A: 1,374 yds/229.0
T: 1,687 yds/281.2

Total Offense/Avg.
A: 2,256 yds/376.0
T: 2,500 yds/416.7

Total Points/Avg.
A: 139 pts/23.2
T: 159 pts/26.5

Rushing Allowed/Avg.
A: 246 yds/41.0    
T: 616 yds/102.7

Passing Allowed/Avg.
A: 1,218 yds/203.0
T: 1,289 yds/214.8

Total Offense Allowed/Avg.
A: 1.464 yds/244.0
T: 1,905 yds/317.5

Total Points Allowed/Avg.
A: 90 pts/15.0
T: 113 pts/18.8