Record Books Ambushed in Amherst's 70-49 Win Over Tufts

Eric Bunker '12 ran for 193 yards and three touchdowns today.

By John Howe ’11

AMHERST, MA – Amherst College senior quarterback Alex Vetras (Clyde Hill, WA) became the program’s all-time leader in career passing yards and junior running back Eric Bunker ’12 (Topsfield, MA) ran for three touchdowns to lead the Lord Jeffs to a wild 70-49 win over Tufts University Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field.  

In a game that featured 119 points and 1,303 yards of total offense, Vetras threw for 265 yards to give him 4,979 in his career, surpassing the school’s previous record of 4,837, which was held by Rich Willard ’98.

Tufts quarterback Anthony Fucillo ’11 had a remarkable day, finishing 42-of-53 with three touchdowns, with his 503 yards breaking the Jumbos’ previous single-game record of 356, which Fucillo set against Bowdoin earlier this year.

Bunker, Femi Oyalowo ’11 (Bowie, MD) and Ryan Silva ’14 (Bristol, RI) led Amherst's running attack as the Jeffs accumulated a season-high 367 yards on the ground. Leading the bunch was Bunker, who set a career high with 193 yards on 23 carries to go along with his first career three-touchdown game.

Amherst tied a program record for longest winning streak (14) to improve to 6-0, while Tufts fell to 1-5. The Jumbos return home to face Colby College next Saturday, while the Lord Jeffs will travel to Trinity College.

The electric first half saw two explosive offenses trading long drives. The Jumbos wasted no time throwing the first punch on their opening series, as a 12-play, 76-yard drive was capped off by a Fucillo one-yard run that made it a 7-0 game.

The Amherst special teams quickly responded with a 52-yard return by Silva that brought the ball out to the Tufts 30-yard line. The Jeffs moved the ball down inside the 5-yard line, but Vetras fumbled a handoff to Bunker and Brian Danshaw recovered the loose ball on the 3-yard line. It was only second time the Lord Jeffs have turned the ball over in the redzone all season.

The Jumbos continued their aerial attack on their ensuing possession when Fucillo connected with multiple receivers on an impressive 14-play, 97-yard drive. The Jumbos punched the ball in with a 1-yard touchdown run from Pat Bailey, who accumulated 92 total yards on the day with 10 catches and 13 carries. Adam Auerbach would tack on the extra point with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter to give the Jumbos a 14-0 lead, Amherst’s largest deficit of the year.

After pinning the Jumbos inside their own 5-yard line, the Amherst defense forced a crucial punt that would help start to swing the momentum. Fielding a punt at the Tufts 36-yard line, Andre Gary ’11 (Exeter, NH) started running to his right, made a few defenders miss and cut across the field to find paydirt as time expired in the opening quarter. The first punt return touchdown of the year for the Lord Jeffs cut the lead to 14-7.

Tufts responded on its very next drive, with Fucillo finding his favorite target of the day, Dylan Haas, over the middle to give the Jumbos a 21-7 lead with 13:03 remaining. The Tufts wide receiver nearly broke the program’s single-game record for receiving yards, falling 14 short of the mark by finishing with 205 yards on 13 catches and a touchdown.

Matt Rawson '12 had a phenomenal day for Amherst.

Amherst responded with a six-play, 55-yard drive that was capped off when Silva rumbled to a five-yard score to bring the deficit back to seven points at 21-14 with 11:29 remaining in the first half. The scoring continued on the next drive when the Jumbos caught the Jeffs blitzing on third down and a wide receiver screen to Greg Stewart went 65 yards to put the Jumbos back up by 14 with a 28-14 lead. The score marked the longest touchdown given up by the Amherst defense on the season.

On the Lord Jeffs’ next possession Vetras found classmate Brian Murphy ’11 (Evanston, IL) for a 28-yard strike that brought the ball to the Tufts 12-yard line. Bunker bounced off a pile on the next play and ran off to the left for a 12-yard score. Leading 28-21 with 8:46 left in the half, the Jumbos manufactured another long drive with an eight-play, 84-yard possession that was finished off by Fucillo’s second rushing touchdown of the day, giving Tufts a 35-21 advantage with 6:39 remaining before halftime.

Tufts was sitting pretty, but the next 21 minutes would be a nightmare for the visitors. Great special teams play and a solid defensive stop gave the Amherst offense prime field position at the Tufts 22-yard line with only three minutes left in the half. Hoping to add another score before the break, the drive stalled out at the 3-yard line and Coach Mills sent the field goal unit out to add three points. However, when Vetras took the snap he flipped a no-look pass behind his head to kicker Matt Rawson ’12 (Bethesda, MD), who caught the pass and scampered into the endzone to cut the lead to 35-28 at halftime.

Rawson’s first career touchdown ignited a 35-0 run that took the wind out of the Jumbos’ sails, as the visitors were held scoreless in the third quarter. The Lord Jeffs got right back to work to start the second half behind two stellar plays by Bunker. The junior running back took a handoff outside for a 46-yard pickup and then followed it up with a 15-yard catch to find the endzone. Taking only 39 seconds, the first drive of the second half tied the game at 35-35.

On its very next drive, Amherst went 65 yards on 10 plays and Oyalowo finished things off with a seven-yard score to give the Jeffs their first lead of the day at 42-35 with 9:21 remaining in the first half.

The Jeffs relied on their running game for their next two series, putting together drives of 56 and 69 yards that ended with touchdown runs by Vetras and Bunker. Amherst’s 35 consecutive points generated a 56-35 lead just before the end of the third quarter.

The Jumbos got back on track on their first drive in the fourth quarter with a 10-play, 58-yard series, as Fucillo found Billy Mahler in the back of the endzone to get within 14 points (56-42) with 12 minutes to play.

Amherst’s offense continued to roll, however, when Vetras connected with his favorite deep target, Andrew Reed ’12 (Riverside, CT), for a 54-yard strike and Bunker capped the drive off with six-yard touchdown run. Bunker’s third TD of the day brought the score to 63-42.

The Lord Jeffs finished off their scoring for the day with an Oyalowo one-yard touchdown run with 6:14 remaining, giving Amherst a 70-42 lead. The senior captain finished with 104 yards on 16 carries and a pair of touchdowns.

Replacement quarterback Jon Sobo connected with John Dodds with 1:32 remaining to culminate the scoring and reach the final tally of 70-49.

Greg Kutzin ’12 (Eastchester, NY) and Sam Clark ’13 (Andover, MA) each finished with nine tackles and an interception to lead the Amherst defense. Nick Falk led the Jumbos with 13 tackles, while Jeff Katz ’11 (Chesire, CT) added 11 for the hosts.

In addition to recording his first career touchdown, Rawson was 10-for-10 on extra point attempts and twice pinned the Jumbos on the 1-yard line with outstanding punts. Rawson is 32-for-33 on PATs this season.

Prior to the game Amherst recognized its 17 seniors, who have compiled a record of 23-7 in their careers.