Jeffs Bump Win Streak to 12 Games with 30-3 Win Over Colby

Jeff Katz '11 forced a fumble and led Amherst with 10 tackles during an outstanding performance.

by John Howe '11

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College football team faced a 3-0 deficit after one quarter but scored 30 unanswered points to earn a 30-3 win over Colby College Saturday afternoon at a cold and windy Pratt Field.  The Lord Jeffs increased their winning streak to 12 games and are now 4-0 on the season, while the Mules drop to 1-3.

This year’s Lord Jeffs became the program’s first squad since 1957 to score at least 30 points in each of the first four games of a season. Amherst has averaged 37.5 points per Saturday while allowing only 10.2.

The swarming Lord Jeff defense allowed only three points and 207 total yards while forcing five turnovers and adding its own touchdown right before halftime. Senior Jeff Katz (Cheshire, CT) stood out with a team-high 10 tackles and a forced fumble, also having a hand in a pair of sacks.

Colby’s Patrick Burns, who entered the game as the NESCAC’s leader in receiving yards per game, was held to only two catches for six yards. Facing constant pressure and getting sacked four times, Nick Kmetz ’12 finished the day 13-of-35 for 95 yards and two interceptions.

On the other side of the ball, the Amherst offense faced the NESCAC’s second-ranked pass defense and difficult weather conditions but managed to rack up 352 total yards. With 192 yards on the ground, the Lord Jeff run game was led by Eric Bunker ’12 (Topsfield, MA) and Ryan Silva ’14 (Bristol, RI), who had 73 and 40 yards, respectively.

Quarterback Alex Vetras ’11 (Bellevue, WA) had another efficient game for the Jeffs, finishing 16-of-33 for 160 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Vetras’ offensive line provided another great game, as Colby entered the weekend leading the conference in sacks but was unable to get to the Amherst quarterback.

Both teams had trouble at the start of the game, as the opening quarter was filled with turnovers and stalled offensive drives. Landrus Lewis ’13 (Pennsauken, NJ) came up with a leaping interception on Colby’s first play of the game, but the Mules got the ball right back when Craig Zevin recovered a fumble by Bunker. The turnovers continued on the ensuing drive as senior cornerback Nick Edwards (Greenwich, CT) forced a fumble after a short reception by Burns.

The Mules’ offense was ignited behind the legs of Connor Walsh and the use of the wildcat offense. Walsh picked up seven yards on a catch and 26 on the ground to lead the Mules down the field. The Lord Jeff defense halted the drive at the 21-yard line and Dave Bendit kicked a difficult 38-yard field goal through the wind to give Colby the first points of the game just before the end of the first quarter. Walsh would finish the day with 131 total yards—69 on the ground and 62 through the air.

Matt Pieterse '13 (#42) returned a fumble 81 yards for a touchdown against Colby.

Facing 3rd-and-1 at the Mules’ 21-yard line early in the second quarter, Mike Samela ’12 (Westport, CT) stepped in to take the snap for Amherst and made an immediate impact on the game, breaking through the line for a 21-yard touchdown scamper to put Amherst on the board. Matt Rawson ’12 (Bethesda, MD) missed the extra point and the Jeffs led 6-3 with 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Colby stopped Amherst on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line when Brian Mellett ’12 recorded a big tackle on a rush by Bunker midway through the second quarter. The Lord Jeff defense responded right away with an interception by junior safety Evan Rosenstein (New Canaan, CT) on third down to give Amherst the ball at the Colby 27.  The offense swung the momentum back in its favor on the very next play as Vetras executed a great play-action fake and found Brian Murphy ’11 (Evanston, IL) in the corner of the endzone to put the Jeffs up 13-3 after a Rawson extra point.

The Mules got back to work as Kmetz found Walsh over the middle for 19 yards to get into Amherst territory on the start of a drive late in the second frame. Connor Tidgwell picked up a first down on 4th-and-1 and Kmetz connected with Walsh over the middle to bring Colby down to the 12-yard line. Kmetz dropped back on second down and evaded pressure, but Katz stripped the quarterback and linebacker Matt Pieterse ’13 (Springfield, MA) scooped up the loose ball and rumbled with a caravan of Lord Jeffs to a game-changing 81-yard score. Rawson tacked on the extra point to give the Lord Jeffs a 20-3 lead over the Mules heading into halftime.

Neither team managed to put points on the board in the third quarter. On the first play of the final frame Rosenstein forced a Nat Carson fumble and Matt Sponheimer (Orange, CT) recovered it to give the Jeffs the ball at the visitors’ 39-yard line. On the ensuing drive Vetras lobbed a ball up to Andrew Reed ’12 (Riverside, CT) in the corner of the endzone and the junior came down with the ball after a great one-handed catch. Rawson tacked on the extra point to give the Jeffs a 27-3 lead with 13 minutes left in the game, and he would add an 18-yard field goal with eight minutes remaining to give Amherst a 30-3 lead that held up as the final score.

In addition to Walsh’s 131 yards of total offense, Tidgwell provided Colby with 46 yards on 10 carries. Tom Duffy led the team with 11 tackles, with Mellett adding nine and Ryan Murphy chipping in with eight. Derrick Beasley broke up a pair of passes to go along with five tackles.

Pieterse had nine tackles in addition to his 81-yard fumble return, while Kevin Heller '12 (Brooklyn, NY) and Rosenstein finished with eight tackles apiece. Kevin Ferber ’12 (Mahwah, NJ), Trevor Rappa ’12 (Bloomington, IL) and Sponheimer broke up two passes apiece.

Amherst will travel to take on Wesleyan University (3-1) next Saturday at 12:30 p.m., while Colby will host Hamilton College (1-3) at noon.