Vetras Throws Four Touchdowns, Sets Record in 37-10 Win at Wesleyan

Alex Vetras '11 threw four touchdowns and completed a school-record 39 passes at Wesleyan.

MIDDLETOWN, CT – Alex Vetras ’11 (Bellevue, WA) threw a career-high four touchdown passes—two of which were caught by classmate Sean Legister ’11 (Ossining, NY)—to lead the Amherst College football team in a 37-10 win over Wesleyan University Saturday afternoon at Andrus Field. The Lord Jeffs improved to 5-0 and increased their winning streak to 13 games, while the Cardinals fell to 3-2 in front of their Homecoming crowd.

The visitors put points on the board in each quarter, using a 30-0 run to break away from what was only a 7-3 lead early in the second period. The Jeffs held a 21-3 advantage at halftime before adding 10 points in the third and six in the fourth.

Vetras finished the day 39-of-51, setting a new Amherst record for single-game completions. Vetras held the previous record of 35, which was set last year against Middlebury. With 288 yards against the Cardinals, he is only 123 shy of tying the school’s all-time career mark of 4,837. After a fourth consecutive game without an interception, Vetras has 13 touchdowns and only one pick on the year.

Legister caught five passes for 55 yards to go along with his two scores. Catching one touchdown apiece were Brian Murphy ’11 (Evanston, IL) and Andre Gary ’11 (Exeter, NH), with Ben Kettering ’12 (Fairmont, WV) and Will Reed ’12 (Riverside, CT) adding five receptions each.

Amherst’s offensive line was outstanding once again, allowing Vetras to be sacked for only the second time this season. The line also paved the way for 176 rushing yards, with Femi Oyalowo ’11 (Bowie, MD) leading the way at 69 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

The Amherst defense held Wesleyan to 253 total yards of offense and the Cardinals were only 3-for-13 on third down attempts. The Lord Jeffs have won eight consecutive meetings with the Cardinals and 16 of the past 17, as Amherst now holds a 66-41-9 advantage in the all-time series.

Both teams will return to action Saturday, Oct. 30, with Amherst hosting Tufts University at 1 p.m. and Wesleyan hosting Bowdoin College at the same time.

On the first big drive of the game, Amherst marched inside the red zone midway through the opening quarter and seemed to have all of the game’s momentum when Vetras converted a 4th-and-inches situation with a quarterback sneak. The Jeffs handed the ball over when Eric Bunker ’12 (Topsfield, MA) lost a fumble with 5:06 to play, but the Cardinals wasted the opportunity when they lost yardage on the ensuing drive, getting backed up by the Amherst defense to their own 2-yard line.

With Wesleyan’s back to the wall, Amherst began its ensuing drive on the visitors’ 29-yard line. Facing 3rd-and-10, Vetras connected with Kettering up the middle for a big first down. Kettering’s grab set up the game’s first touchdown, as Legister freed himself for a sliding 8-yard catch in the endzone to mark his first touchdown of the season. Matt Rawson ’12 (Bethesda, MD) added the extra point to give the Jeffs a 7-0 lead with 54 seconds remaining in the period.

Starting the second quarter with the ball, Wesleyan used a nine-play, 57-yard drive to set up Sebastian Aguirre for a 22-yard field goal, the team’s first attempt of the season. Aguirre passed his first test to make it a 7-3 game with 12:07 remaining. Wesleyan had to settle for the three points after Amherst defensive back Landrus Lewis ’13 (Pennsauken, NJ) came up with an impressive pass break-up on a 50-50 ball in the corner of the endzone on 3rd-and-goal.

Femi Oyalowo '11 ran for 69 yards and a touchdown to lead Amherst's ground attack at Wesleyan.

The Jeffs responded with a 12-play, 60-yard drive that ended on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Vetras to Murphy. Amherst went to first-year running back Ryan Silva (Bristol, RI) and used three completions to Murphy to get to the Wesleyan 23-yard line, setting up another 4th-and-inches situation. Vetras again snuck ahead to pick up the first down, but a pair of holding penalties would push the Jeffs back to the 29. Facing 1st-and-20, Vetras lofted a deep ball to the corner of the endzone and placed the ball perfectly to Murphy, who was in double coverage. Rawson again provided the extra point to give the visitors a 14-3 advantage with 8:09 on the clock.

Amherst remained in cruise control on its next drive, as Wesleyan could not seem to find a solution for the Jeffs’ no-huddle offense. Vetras used his arsenal of receivers and Bunker ran the ball well, and the 10-play drive was capped off by yet another Vetras touchdown. Gary found himself all alone in the middle of the endzone and came down with his third TD reception of the season, with Rawson bringing the score to 21-3 with only 2:55 left in the half.

The first half closed with the Amherst defense coming up with a big stop on 4th-and-1. The Cardinals were given good field position when the Jeffs failed to recover their on-side kick attempt, but Wesleyan could not capitalize. Amherst headed into the locker room with a 21-3 lead after gaining 266 yards of total offense in the opening 30 minutes.

Amherst kept its foot on the gas pedal and scored on its opening possession of the second half. Bunker and Vetras needed only 3:24 to march the Jeffs 80 yards in 10 plays, with Legister once again ending the drive on a spectacular catch. Legister was all alone in the back of the endzone, but a pair of Cardinals swarmed him as the ball was in the air. Despite the tight coverage, the senior receiver hung on for a 31-yard grab to bring the score to 28-3 nearly six minutes into the third period.

The Jeffs would head into the fourth quarter with a 31-3 lead after Rawson nailed a 32-yard field goal with only 44 seconds remaining in the third. With a 28-point cushion Amherst was able to abandon its hurry-up offense in the fourth quarter, allowing Oyalowo to take over. After he bowled through the defense to set up 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Oyalowo finished what he started by leaping over a wall of Cardinals for his first touchdown of the season. The Jeffs held a 37-3 lead with 7:26 remaining in the game after they could not hit the point after attempt.  

The Cardinals used six and a half minutes to pick up their first touchdown of the game, as Shea Dwyer found paydirt with only 51 seconds to play. The extra point made it a 37-10 game to round out the scoring. Dwyer entered the game leading Division III in rushing yards per game (189.0), having run for at least 100 yards in each of Wesleyan’s first four games, but the Lord Jeffs held him to 95 yards, most of which came in the Cardinals’ final drive.

Helping Oyalowo lead an impressive ground attack was Bunker, who carried the ball 11 times for 56 yards. Silva also looked impressive and finished with 20 yards on only four touches, as Amherst’s top three backs each averaged 5.0 yards per carry on the day.

The Amherst defense did not force any turnovers for the first time this season, but it was outstanding throughout the game as the Cardinals picked up only 12 first downs and passed for 130 yards. Sam Clark ’13 (Andover, MA) and Jeff Katz ’11 (Cheshire, CT) had five tackles apiece, while Kevin Ferber ’12 (Mahwah, NJ) and Brady Benelli ’11 (Braintree, MA) each recorded a sack. Evan Rosenstein ’12 (New Canaan, CT) and Kevin Heller ’12 (Brooklyn, NY) combined to break up three passes and each had four tackles to lead the secondary.

Matt Coyne was 16-of-27 for 130 yards and Dwyer led all Wesleyan receivers with 51 yards on six catches. Kyle Weiss had six grabs for 38 yards, also averaging 35.8 yards per punt. Jordan Greene led all players with 12 tackles, followed by 11 from Brett Bandazian.