Week 1 Football Preview: Amherst (0-0) vs. Bates (0-0)

HelmetAmherst College (0-0) vs. Bates College (0-0)
September 25, 2010 * Pratt Field
Amherst, MA * 1 p.m.

Amherst’s home opener will feature live video and audio
courtesy of JeffCast. Live statistics will also be available.

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

Amherst holds a commanding 20-4-2 advantage in the all-time series, out-scoring Bates by a 108-6 margin during its current four-game winning streak thanks to three shutouts. Now competing against each other only twice every four years, the Jeffs and Bobcats were regular opponents from 1976-91, with seven of those 16 games decided by seven points or fewer. Bates last got the best of Amherst in 1999 with a 19-7 season-opening result in Lewiston, Maine.

Amherst rode a 21-0 halftime advantage to a 24-0 season-opening victory at Bates in 2007 to increase its winning streak against the Bobcats to four games. Aaron Rauh ’10 ran for three short-yardage touchdowns in the first half as the Lord Jeffs grinded out a 170-25 advantage in rushing yards for the game. Amherst out-gained Bates in total yardage, 302-131, with Matt Eberhart ’10 nailing a career-long 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring for Amherst.

Femi Oyalowo '11 ran for 220 yards last year.

The Lord Jeffs held possession for 38:13 and forced four turnovers, recovering three Bates fumbles and intercepting a pass. The Bobcats picked up only nine first downs on the afternoon and marched into the red zone only once, as Amherst scored on its opening possession and never looked back. Andre Gary ’11 was Amherst’s favorite target, catching four passes for a total of 58 yards en route to a NESCAC Rookie of the Week honor.
Amherst wrapped up sole possession of last year’s NESCAC title with a 26-21 win over Williams College in the season finale, marking the third 8-0 season in program history and the first win at Weston Field since 1985. The Jeffs struck first with an early field goal, the first time all season they had scored on their opening drive. The Ephs soon shocked the conference’s top defense with a pair of long touchdown passes to take a 14-3 lead, marking the first time all year that Amherst had allowed two touchdowns in the first half.

Amherst would score the next 23 points, with quarterback Alex Vetras ’11 throwing a 70-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Reed ’12 to make it a 14-10 game. Eric Bunker ’12 recovered a fumble and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to hand the lead back to Amherst for the final points of the first half. Matt Rawson ’12 kicked a 28-yard field goal for the only points of the third quarter. Vetras then threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brian Murphy ’11 to open the scoring in the fourth quarter.

Williams pushed back with a rushing touchdown three minutes later to make it 26-21. After Amherst lost a fumble with 3:44 to play in regulation, the Ephs began a potentially game-winning drive on Amherst’s 43-yard line. Facing 4th-and-4 from the 23-yard line, Williams dumped a short pass to the left side of the field, but co-captain Chris Govey ’10 was there. The Ephs needed four yards to keep their season alive, and Govey made sure they got only three, allowing Amherst to take over on downs and run out the clock.

Hamilton College rallied for a 24-14 win against visiting Bates College, snapping the Bobcats’ winning streak against the Continentals at five games. Hamilton's defense limited Bates to 58 yards of offense and eight first downs. The Bobcats were 3-for-17 on third down and 0-for-3 on fourth down conversions. With Hamilton trailing 14-10 and 9:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, the hosts put together a 12-play drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Cray on the left sideline. The Bobcats, now trailing 17-14, threw three straight incomplete passes on the next drive and gave the ball back to Hamilton at the Continentals' 44 with 4:02 left. Facing 4th-and-3 at the 18, the hosts tossed a game-clinching touchdown with 1:46 remaining.

Nick Edwards '11 intercepted four passes in 2009.

Amherst’s defense has maintained a stellar reputation under the tutelage of 2009 NESCAC Coach of the Year E.J. Mills, but the Lord Jeffs could turn more heads this year with their offense thanks to an abundance of talent and experience at the skill positions. Quarterback Alex Vetras ’11 is on pace to surpass school records in his third year in the starting role, and he will be protected by an offensive line that is young but quite proven.

Question marks arise when it comes to the defense because of the incredible impact the Class of 2010 had on the program, but Amherst returns five key starters and welcomes an exceptional combination of first-years and transfer students. In addition to leading the NESCAC in scoring defense and turnover margin, last year’s team led all of Division III in rush defense (50.9 ypg) and sacks per game (4.75). Filling the void left by a pair of All-NESCAC First Team linemen and the conference’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year won’t be easy, but the biggest challenge comes with replacing three starters in the secondary. If Amherst’s defensive backs can gel early on, this could be yet another standout year for the defense.

After posting a 1-7 mark last year, Bates begins the 2010 season with hopes of turning the program around. The Bobcats lost their first six games of 2009, picking up their lone win over in-state rival Bowdoin in Week 7. Bates returns nine starters to a defense that improved notably in stopping the run in 2009, allowing 127.9 yards per game last year after surrendering an average of 182.1 in 2008. The unit also tied for second in the NESCAC in forced turnovers (20). The Bobcats return all four starting linebackers, while junior Cam Evans will shift from cornerback to free safety this year after intercepting four passes and breaking up nine others in 2009.

After an open competition during training camp, the Bates offense will be led at quarterback by either junior Ryan Katon or sophomore Trevor Smith. Katon has looked impressive at times in his 13 collegiate games, completing 51.9 percent of his passes for 1,739 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Smith played in five games in 2009, including starts in the final three. Smith completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 812 yards and six touchdowns last year. Katon's season-ending injury opened the door for Smith to play, and the rookie was sensational at times. Notably, Smith set Bates records for completions (31) and yards (361) at Colby in his first collegiate start.


QB – Alex Vetras – 12
RB – Eric Bunker – 14
WR – Sean Legister – 22
WR – Brian Murphy – 4
WR – Andre Gary – 2
TE – Charlie Pratt – 46
LT – Ian Mahoney – 70
LG – Marcus Richtel – 76
C – John Ceccio – 54
RG – Rick Morgan – 62
RT – Jack Reynolds - 51
CB – Nick Edwards – 25
CB – Landrus Lewis – 1
FS – Doug Gebhardt – 8
SS – Kevin Heller – 10
OLB – Sam Clark – 34
OLB – Jeff Katz – 98
ILB – Brandon Quinn – 31
ILB – Matt Pieterse – 42
DT – Brady Benelli – 55
DT – Kevin Ferber – 3
NG – Tom Grossi – 97
LT – Ryan Weston – 74
LG – Mark Sylvester – 70
C – Andrew Scichilone – 69
RG – Matt Conetta – 52
RT – Liam O’Neil – 75
WR – John Squires – 86
TE – Evan Tierney – 2
RB – Shawn Doherty – 6
QB – Ryan Katon – 8
RB – Patrick George – 22
WR – T. Finkenstaedt – 23
DE – Pat Quinn – 92
DT – Devin Horvath – 90
DE – Tyler Kuehl – 96
OLB – Brett McAllister – 24
ILB – Kevin Helm – 33  
ILB – Ted Durkin – 46
ILB – J. Chronopoulos – 48
OLB – Myles Walker – 41
CB – Kyle Starr – 3
FS – Cam Evans – 14
CB – Chris Alfiero – 29




Alex Vetras (164-of-296/1,613 yds/14 TD/7 INT)
Femi Oyalowo (69 att/220 yds/1 TD)
Brian Murphy (41 recs/374 yds/4 TD)
Sean Legister (22 recs/250 yds/1 TD)
Brandon Quinn (70 tackles/7 brups/1 blk)
Kevin Ferber (41 tackles/7.0 sacks/2 FF)
Jeff Katz (38 tackles/12.5 TFL/1 INT/1 FF)
Trevor Smith (71-of-123/812 yds/6 TD/6 INT)
Patrick George (51 att/162 yds/3 TD)
John Squires (13 rec/210 yds/2 TD)
Evan Tierney (4 rec/63 yds/0 TD)
Myles Walker (73 tackles/6.5 TFL/1 FF)
Brett McAllister (72 tackles/2 INT/3 FR)
Cam Evans (23 tackles/4 INT/9 brups)











Rushing offense
AMH: 79.1 ypg
BAT: 57.9 ypg

Passing offense
AMH: 217.8 ypg
BAT: 207.9 ypg
Total Offense
AMH: 296.9 ypg
BAT: 265.8 ypg

Scoring Offense
AMH: 20.2 ppg
BAT: 16.9 ppg
Rushing Defense
AMH: 50.9 ypg
BAT: 127.9 ypg

Passing Defense
AMH: 229.2 ypg
BAT: 213.4 ypg
Total Defense
AMH: 280.1 ypg
BAT: 341.2 ypg

Scoring Defense
AMH: 10.4 ppg
BAT: 27.4 ppg