Week 4 Football Preview: Amherst vs. Colby

HelmetAmherst College (3-0) vs. Colby College (1-2)
October 16, 2010 * Pratt Field
Amherst, MA * 1 p.m.

Saturday’s game between Amherst and Colby
will feature live statistics and a live webcast.

Bowdoin (1-2) @ Hamilton (0-3) - 12 p.m.
Wesleyan (2-1) @ Bates (1-2) - 1 p.m.
Middlebury (1-2) @ Williams (3-0) - 1:30 p.m.
Tufts (1-2) @ Trinity (2-1) - 1:30 p.m.

Amherst is 28-4-1 against Colby in the all-time series, which dates back to 1903. The Lord Jeffs and Mules met only 15 times from 1903-87 but have been regular opponents since 1992. Colby’s four wins in the rivalry came in consecutive years (1992-95), with Amherst winning each of the past 14 matchups. The Mules have struggled to put points on the board against the Jeffs, scoring at least 14 only twice since 1996 and being shut out four times during that stretch.

Eric Bunker ’12 returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Amherst scored nine unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 23-13 win over Colby. The teams traded touchdowns in the opening half, with Colby scoring first on its opening drive when Nick Kmetz ’12 hit Matt Hellinger ’11 on a 3-yard pass with 6:48 to play. Amherst answered in the second quarter when Alex Vetras ’11 connected with Brian Murphy ’11 on a 61-yard pass play with 6:35 remaining before halftime.

Jeff Katz '11 recorded 3.5 sacks and a safety in last year's 23-13 win at Colby.

With the score tied at 7-7 in the third quarter, Bunker returned his blocked punt four yards for the touchdown to give Amherst the lead for good at 14-7. Colby fought back and scored on its next drive when Kmetz hit tight end Spencer Merwin ’12 on a 13-yard pass with 6:08 to play in the third. The Mules, however, missed the extra point attempt and trailed 14-13.

Amherst outside linebacker Jeff Katz ’11 gave his team two points when he sacked Kmetz in the endzone for a safety with 12:31 to play in the fourth quarter to put the Lord Jeffs up by a field goal at 16-13. Amherst got another big defensive play when Fred Argir ’10 came up with an interception at the Lord Jeff 44-yard line and returned it to the Colby 31. Two plays later, Femi Oyalowo ’11 scampered in from six yards out for the final touchdown of the game. Katz had 3.5 sacks en route to a NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Bunker ran for a game-winning touchdown with only 2:32 remaining in regulation and Matt Rawson ’12 converted the ensuing extra point to seal a thrilling 38-31 win for Amherst at Middlebury. The Lord Jeffs trailed 9-0 at halftime but rallied to score 24 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth, as they survived their biggest test of the young season. Bunker accumulated 119 yards of total offense and found paydirt twice, while Vetras ran for a touchdown and threw for 278 yards and two scores. Amherst converted three 4th-down opportunities during its game-winning scoring drive.

Wesleyan received a big day from Shea Dwyer to offset a fine outing by Kmetz and a record-tying day by Connor Walsh ’12 in the Cardinals’ 27-20 win Saturday at Colby. Kmetz threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, but Dwyer broke the Wesleyan single-game rushing record for the second week in a row after finishing with 255 yards on 31 carries. Meanwhile, Walsh tied a 38-year-old Colby record with 11 catches in the game. The Mules scored the first six points of the afternoon but trailed at halftime, 21-6, which proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome. The Cardinals’ defense held Colby to only 39 rushing yards.

Nick Kmetz '12 threw three touchdowns in each of Colby's past two games.

Colby enters this weekend’s game leading the NESCAC in sacks (8) and ranking second in pass defense (194.0 ypg), coming off a 27-20 loss to Wesleyan in which the Mules held the Cardinals to only 90 yards through the air. Free safety Derrick Beasley ’13 has two interceptions and 22 tackles to lead a defense that will look to continue slowing down opposing quarterbacks. Amherst’s offensive line might have something to say about that, having surrendered only one sack on the season while protecting Vetras, the conference’s second most efficient passer thus far (139.3). Vetras has thrown for seven scores and only one interception, with five Lord Jeffs catching a touchdown and three racking up at least 150 receiving yards.

If Colby’s defense can keep Vetras at bay, the Mules will still need to find a solution for Bunker, who ranks second among NESCAC running backs in yards per game (85.7) and touchdowns (5). The Jeffs are averaging 173.7 yards on the ground per week (third in the NESCAC), and they will be going up against a Mule defense that has allowed an average of 177.0 rushing yards per game. Colby gave up at least 200 yards via the run in each of its two losses but held Middlebury to only 65 during a 38-27 win over the Panthers.

Colby’s running game has been inconsistent, gaining 49 yards at Trinity, 210 against Middlebury and 39 in last week’s meeting with Wesleyan. The Lord Jeffs have yet to allow a team to run for more than 76 yards, and if they continue that pattern they will likely find the Mules going to what has been a reliable connection between Kmetz and Patrick Burns ’11. Kmetz has thrown for at least 223 yards in each of his first three games and has tossed three touchdowns in each of his past two outings. His best performance came last week against Wesleyan when he was 26-of-43 without throwing an interception. His prime target has been Burns, who leads the NESCAC in receiving yards per game (98.7), having totaled at least 93 yards each week.

In last week’s thriller at Middlebury, Amherst found itself in unfamiliar territory after failing to score in the first half. The Panthers had the Lord Jeffs pinned against the wall, but an interception by Evan Rosenstein ’12 opened the floodgates and allowed Amherst to score 35 points in the game’s final 26 minutes. Amherst has the ability to shift momentum in the blink of an eye with big defensive plays, which means Colby will need to protect the ball. The Mules turned the ball over three times at Trinity and four times against Middlebury, but they cleaned up their act by not handing the ball over to Wesleyan last week. The Jeffs, meanwhile, have forced at least two turnovers in each game while turning the ball over only once themselves.


Amherst Offense
QB - Alex Vetras - 12
RB - Eric Bunker - 14
TE - Charlie Pratt - 46
WR - Sean Legister - 22
WR - Brian Murphy - 4
WR - Andre Gary - 2
RT - Ian Mahoney - 70
RG - Marcus Richtel - 76
C - John Ceccio - 54
LG - Rick Morgan - 62
LT - Jack Reynolds - 51
Amherst Defense
SS - Doug Gebhardt - 8
FS - Kevin Heller - 10
CB - Nick Edwards - 25
CB - Landrus Lewis - 1
OLB - Sam Clark - 34
OLB - Jeff Katz - 98
ILB - Brandon Quinn - 31
ILB - Matt Pieterse - 42
DE - Brady Benelli - 55
NG - Tom Grossi - 97
DE - Kevin Ferber - 3
Colby Offense
QB - Nick Kmetz - 15
RB - Conor Tidgwell - 32
RB - Connor Walsh - 20
T - Rich Poirier - 68
T - Nick Steele - 55
G - J. Swinehart - 65
G - John Gilboy - 67
C - C. Phillips-Spo - 64
TE - Spencer Merwin - 80
WR - Patrick Burns - 1
WR - Andrew Graham - 84
Colby Defense
DT - Tripp Stevens - 91
DT - Craig Zevin - 47
DE - Lester Batiste - 92
DE - John McCusker - 33
OLB - Eric Wilsterman - 42
MLB - Ray Duffy - 75
OLB - Brian Mellett - 9
CB - Nick Tucker - 4
CB - Richard Newton - 29
FS - Derrick Beasley - 6
SS - Shayne Begin - 23


Alex Vetras (65-of-109/783 yds/7 TD/1 INT)
Eric Bunker (47 att/257 yds/5 TD)
Alex Vetras (12 att/54 yds/2 TD)
Andrew Reed (5 rec/182 yds/2 TD)
Ben Kettering (11 rec/160 yds/1 TD)
Matt Pieterse (27 tackles/13 solo/2.0 TFL)
Kevin Ferber (22 tackles/2.0 sacks/2 FR)
Nick Kmetz (61-of-112/772 yds/7 TD/4 INT)
Conor Tidgwell (42 att/144 yds/0 TD)
Nick Kmetz (43 att/78 yds/1 TD)
Patrick Burns (19 rec/296 yds/3 TD)
Connor Walsh (18 rec/171 yds/2 TD)
Tom Duffy (29 tackles/18 solo/4.5 TFL)
Derrick Beasley (22 tackles/15 solo/2 INT)


Rushing Offense
A: 173.7 ypg
C: 99.3 ypg

Passing Offense
A: 261.0 ypg
C: 263.7 ypg
Total Offense
A: 434.7 ypg
C: 363.0 ypg

Scoring Offense
A: 40.0 ppg
C: 21.3 ppg
Rushing Defense
A: 75.0 ypg
C: 177.0 ypg

Passing Defense
A: 247.3 ypg
C: 194.0 ypg
Total Defense
A: 322.3 ypg
C: 371.0 ypg

Scoring Defense
A: 12.7 ppg
C: 29.0 ppg