Amherst's Winning Streak Snapped by Trinity, 28-13

Matt Sponheimer '13 had 12 tackles and a pair of sacks.

From a Trinity College release

HARTFORD, CT – The Amherst College football team jumped out to a 10-0 lead and held a 13-7 advantage heading into the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon at Trinity College’s Jessee/Miller Field, but the Lord Jeffs surrendered 21 unanswered points to the Bantams. With the 28-13 loss, Amherst’s winning streak is snapped at 14 games, which ties the program record.

With today’s result, Amherst and Trinity both move to 6-1 on the year heading into next weekend’s final gameday of the season. While Trinity will face Wesleyan (4-3) with a shot to finish at 7-1, the Jeffs will host first place Williams (7-0) in the 125th installment of “The Biggest Little Game in America” at home. If the Jeffs can play spoiler against the Ephs next Saturday, Amherst will clinch at least a share of the 2010 NESCAC Championship, while Trinity can earn a three-way split with a win as well.
Bantam rookie runningback Evan Bunker rushed for 211 yards and one touchdown, and threw the game-winning touchdown toss in the fourth quarter to senior tightend Chris Hunt, to lead the Bantams on in the late charge. Trinity scored three times in the final 6:02 to steal the win from Amherst’s grasp.

Trinity, ranked No. 5 in New England, wins its fifth straight game and its 39th consecutive triumph at home, while snapping the visiting Lord Jeffs’ winning streak at 14. Amherst was ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 8 in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll entering the game.

Despite the loss, Amherst and senior quarterback Alex Vetras (Clyde Hill, WA) kept a handful of streaks intact. Entering the day just 21 yards short of 5,000 for his career, Vetras passed the milestone on the first play from scrimmage of the day with a 47-yard touchdown toss just 16 seconds into the game. The pass kept his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown alive at 23 – a number believed to be the longest active mark in Division III. With a pick late in the first quarter, Vetras’ streak of consecutive passes without an interception came to an end at 221.

After a Matt Rawson (Bethesda, MD) field goal gave the Jeffs a 10-0 lead with 11:59 remaining in the first quarter, the Jeffs would score only another three points in the game. Trailing, 13-7 late in the third quarter, Trinity drove the ball 97 yards on 18 plays for the game-winning score.  Bunker totaled 49 yards on 11 carries on the drive and rushed five straight times to advance the ball from the Amherst 27-yard line to the five-yard line to set up a 3rd-and-5 situation.  Lining up as the quarterback out of the shotgun, Bunker took the snap and sprinted forward toward the line of scrimmage, before stopping and completing a jump-pass over the linemen to a Hunt for a five-yard score. Trinity kicker Tim Costello nailed the extra-point to give Trinity its first lead of the game at 14-13 with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter. 

The Bantams forced a punt on Amherst’s next possession, and a Bantam bounce off a short effort by Rawson gave Trinity the ball back in Lord Jeff territory. After five more Bunker rushes, Trinity sophomore quarterback Ryan Burgess threw 29 yards to Michael Galligan on a play-action pass down the left sideline for another Bantam score. Leading, 28-13, with 3:11 on the clock, the Trinity defense forced four consecutive incompletions on Amherst’s ensuing drive, and put the nail in the coffin with a 25-yard scoring strike from Burgess to Hunt in the game’s final minute.

Amherst had opened the game with a 34-yard kickoff return by sophomore Landrus Lewis (Pennsauken, N.J.), followed by a 47-yard bomb into the end zone from Vetras  to senior wideout Andre Gary (Exeter, N.H.) on its first play from scrimmage.  Lewis picked off Burgess to stop Trinity’s first drive, and the Lord Jeffs capitalized with a 35-yard field goal to take the 10-0 lead.

The Bantams got on the board  late in the first stanza on a four-yard rush by Bunker, after safety Ben Sherry, lining up in the backfield, completed a 25-yard pass down the left sideline to Galligan on a fake punt from the Trinity 45-yard line on 4th-and-4.  Trinity kept itself within six points at 13-7 shortly before intermission when Julian Brown jarred the ball loose from Amherst junior Eric Bunker (Topsfield, MA) in the end zone to force an incompletion on 3rd-and-goal from the five-yard line. The play set up a 22-yard field goal by Rawson with 2:33 to play in the first half, marking the final time Amherst would score.

Evan Bunker broke the Trinity carries record for the second week in a row with 45, as Trinity totaled 251 rushing yards as a team and held the ball for 42:45 of the game. Burgess finished 6-for-11 for 124 yards, and Hunt led all pass catchers with 98 receiving yards on five grabs. 

Eric Bunker, Evan’s older brother, paced the Lord Jeffs with 51 rushing yards on 11 carries, while Vetras was 16-for-38 for 162 yards, and Gary caught five balls for 62 yards. Defensively, Trinity linebacker Walter Fallas paced Trinity with eight tackles, while defensive end Herman Brito had 1.5 sacks, Sherry intercepted a pass, and senior Tony Coffield broke up four passes in the second half.

Amherst junior Evan Rosenstein (New Canaan, CT) led all tacklers with 13, while sophomore Matt Sponheimer (Orange, CT) totaled 12 tackles and two sacks, and Rawson landed five of his seven punts inside the Bantam 20-yard line.