Week 6 Football Preview: Amherst vs. Tufts (Family Weekend)
Amherst College (5-0) vs. Tufts University (1-4)
October 30, 2010 * Pratt Field
Amherst, MA * 1 p.m.
Saturday’s game between Amherst and Tufts
will feature a free webcast and live statistics.
THIS WEEK IN THE NESCAC
Middlebury (2-3) @ Trinity (4-1) - 12:30 p.m.
Bowdoin (1-4) @ Wesleyan (3-2) - 1 p.m.
Williams (5-0) @ Hamilton (1-4) - 1 p.m.
Colby (2-3) @ Bates (1-4) - 1 p.m.
Amherst has posted a 49-26-4 record against Tufts dating back to 1877, but the Lord Jeffs are only 4-3 against the Jumbos since 2003. From 1999-2004 the average margin of victory was a mere 5.3 points, with the 2002 and 2003 matchups requiring overtime. Amherst then cruised to wins of 37-6 and 24-6 in 2005 and 2006 before Tufts pushed back with a 29-10 victory in 2007. The Jeffs have won the past two meetings by a combined 17 points and this weekend will be in search of the program’s 50th win against the Jumbos.
Matt Rawson ’12 kicked two 27-yard field goals and wide receiver Brandon Bullock ’10 caught a 6-yard touchdown pass with 8:53 remaining in the game as Amherst emerged in what was a strong defensive effort for both sides. The Jumbos finished the day at -15 rushing yards thanks in no small part to Amherst linebacker Mike Taylor ’10, who had 16 tackles and forced two fumbles en route to a NESCAC Co-Player of the Week honor. Tufts took a 3-0 lead in the opening quarter on a 44-yard field goal, but the Lord Jeffs would tie the score in the second period and take a 6-3 lead early in the fourth before punching in the game's only touchdown on a 4th-and-goal situation.
Brian Murphy '11 recorded his 100th career reception this past Saturday. (Photo by Jessica Mestre '10)
AMHERST LAST TIME OUT
Alex Vetras ’11 threw a career-high four touchdown passes—two of which were caught by classmate Sean Legister ’11—to lead Amherst in a 37-10 win at Wesleyan. 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. Amherst’s offensive line paved the way for 176 rushing yards, with Femi Oyalowo ’11 leading the charge at 69 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. The Amherst defense held Wesleyan to 253 yards of total offense and the Cardinals were only 3-for-13 on third down attempts.
TUFTS LAST TIME OUT
Senior Ryan Lupo rushed 39 times for 180 yards and four touchdowns to lead Williams to a 35-24, come-from-behind victory at Tufts. The host Jumbos scored with no time left in the second half to take a 17-14 lead into the locker room and returned a fumble for a touchdown on the Ephs’ first possession of the second half. Williams would rally for three touchdowns—all scored by Lupo—in less than a 10-minute span to earn the victory and remain tied atop the NESCAC standings. In a game that featured 51 first downs and 840 yards of total offense, Tufts senior quarterback Anthony Fucillo finished 25-of-47 for 264 yards and two touchdowns.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Coming off what was arguably the best game of his career, Alex Vetras ’11 is on the verge of leaving yet another mark on the Amherst College record book. Last week at Wesleyan Vetras set the program’s single-game record for completions (39) in only 51 attempts. This week he will look to become the program’s all-time leader in career passing yards, as he is only 124 shy of breaking the previous mark of 4,837, which was set by Rich Willard ’98. Vetras is also only three touchdowns shy of tying the school’s single-season record of 16, which is shared by Willard and three other Lord Jeffs.
It may seem like 124 yards will be a guarantee for Vetras this weekend, but Tufts picked off the Amherst quarterback once and held him to only 74 yards on 11-of-22 passing last year. The Jumbos feature the NESCAC’s third best pass defense (178.0 ypg) this season thanks in large part to free safety Sam Diss ’13, who ranks second in interceptions (3) and third in passes defended (7), with one of his picks being returned 74 yards for a touchdown. Diss was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week for his performance at Williams, which included an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Also standing out on defense has been linebacker Ferras Albitar ’12, whose 51 tackles are the third most in the conference.
The Jumbos will be up against an Amherst receiving core that features six players who have caught at least one touchdown this year, with Brian Murphy ’11 leading the way for the Jeffs. After yet another stellar performance at Wesleyan, Murphy brought his career totals to 100 receptions, 945 yards and nine touchdowns. With three games to play, he is looking to become Amherst’s first receiver in at least 10 years to reach the 100-catch, 1,000-yard and 10-touchdown marks. Murphy has caught at least one pass in 21 consecutive games, and this year leads the team in receptions (29), yards (253) and TDs (3).
Billy Mahler '11 ranks sixth in the NESCAC in receiving yards per game. (Photo by Kelvin Ma, Tufts University)
With Vetras picking defenses apart and each of Amherst’s top three running backs averaging at least 4.3 yards per carry, opposing teams have looked helpless against the Lord Jeffs’ hurry-up offense. Eric Bunker ’12 leads the team in rushing yards per game (76.4), yards per carry (5.0) and touchdowns (5), but Femi Oyalowo ’11 and Ryan Silva ’14 appear to be peaking at the right time to give Amherst an incredible amount of depth and variation. The running game has been Tufts’ Achilles’ heel, as the Jumbos are last in the NESCAC in rushing offense (46.8 ypg) and ninth in rushing defense (199.0 ypg). This has led to Tufts also ranking last in average time of possession (21:58), well behind the rest of the conference pack. Notably, Trinity ran for 294 yards and held the ball for 42:23, while the Jumbos maintained possession for only 17:37.
Senior quarterback Anthony Fucillo and a veteran group of receivers have been bright spots for Tufts, which ranks third in the conference in passing offense (278.4 ypg). Fucillo has thrown eight touchdowns and averages more than 275 yards per week, but he has also been picked off eight times. Classmates Billy Mahler ’11 and Greg Stewart ’11 rank sixth (64.4 ypg) and eighth (62.0 ypg) in the NESCAC in receiving yards per contest, while senior captain Pat Bailey and Dylan Haas ’13 have combined for 513 yards and four TDs. Amherst’s defense, however, has been shutting down the passing game as of late, surrendering only 105 yards through the air against Colby and 130 at Wesleyan.
Tufts was leading at halftime in four of its first five games but has only one win to show for it. The Jumbos are being out-scored in the second half by a 60-21 margin and have yet to put a point on the board in the fourth quarter of any game. After opening the season with a 21-10 win over Hamilton, Tufts blew leads of 20-12 against Bates, 12-0 at Bowdoin and 24-14 against Williams. Tufts also trailed Trinity by only six points at the half, but the Bantams scored the final 14 points of the game. The Jumbos have traded punches with very good teams and are fully capable of pulling off an upset this Saturday, but they cannot afford a letdown at halftime. Should the Jeffs improve to 6-0, they would tie the program record for longest winning streak (14), which was set from 1983-85.
QB - Alex Vetras - 12
RB - Eric Bunker - 14
TE - Charlie Pratt - 46
WR - Sean Legister - 22
WR - Brian Murphy - 4
WR - Andre Gary - 2
LG - Rick Morgan - 62
LT - Jack Reynolds - 51
C - John Ceccio - 54
RG - Marcus Richtel - 76
RT - Ian Mahoney - 70
SS - Evan Rosenstein - 23
FS - Kevin Heller - 10
CB - Nick Edwards - 25
CB - Landrus Lewis - 1
OLB - Sam Clark - 34
OLB - Jeff Katz - 98
ILB - Greg Kutzin - 33
ILB - Matt Pieterse - 42
DE - Brady Benelli - 55
NG - Matt Sponheimer - 50
DE - Kevin Ferber - 3
QB - Anthony Fucillo - 16
RB - Pat Bailey - 14
T - David Lloyd - 79
T - Evan Murray - 66
G - Tom Didio - 71
G - Luke Lamothe - 58
C - Sam Stone - 51
WR - Greg Stewart - 15
WR - Pat Nee - 85
WR - Steve Cusano - 80
WR - Billy Mahler - 2
DT - Chris Toole - 81
DT - Nick Croteau - 83
DE - Sam Gardner - 38
DE - Donnie Simmons - 91
LB - Brian Danshaw - 6
LB - Matthew Murray - 34
LB - Ferras Albitar - 44
CB - Vincent Lee - 4
CB - Austin Crittenden - 21
FS - Sam Diss - 27
SS - Nick Falk - 37
Alex Vetras (120-of-193/1,232 yds/13 TD/1 INT)
Eric Bunker (77 att/382 yds/5.0 ypc/5 TD)
Femi Oyalowo (36 att/168 yds/4.7 ypc/1 TD)
Brian Murphy (29 rec/253 yds/3 TD)
Andrew Reed (10 rec/245 yds/3 TD)
Matt Pieterse (38 tackles/18 solo/3.5 TFL/1 FR)
Evan Rosenstein (35 tackles/21 solo/2 INT/2 FF)
Anthony Fucillo (122-of-262/1,377 yds/8 TD/8 INT)
Pat Bailey (44 att/144 yds/0 TD/3.3 ypc)
Anthony Fucillo (33 att/62 yds/0 TD/1.9 ypc)
Pat Bailey (34 rec/271 yds/2 TD)
Billy Mahler (29 rec/322 yds/3 TD)
Ferras Albitar (51 tackles/30 solo/3.0 TFL)
Sam Diss (16 tackles/3 INT/1 FR/4 brups)
A: 177.8 ypg
T: 46.8 ypg
A: 246.4 ypg
T: 278.4 ypg
A: 424.2 ypg
T: 325.2 ypg
A: 37.4 ppg
T: 17.4 ppg
A: 90.0 ypg
T: 199.0 ypg
A: 195.4 ypg
T: 178.0 ypg
A: 285.4 ypg
T: 377.0 ypg
A: 10.2 ppg
T: 23.0 ppg