Heflin, Defense Spark 23-3 Win Over Colby
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. – Robbie Heflin ’13 made three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, to lead the Amherst football team to a 23-3 victory over Colby on Pratt Field.
Clinging onto a 9-3 lead with just over a minute to go in the third quarter, Heflin nabbed his third pick of the day, racing 24 yards into the Colby end zone to swing the momentum in the Jeffs’ favor. His three interceptions are the most since Rob Walsh ’05 tied a program record with four picks in a double-overtime game against Bowdoin on Oct. 2, 2004.
Notching their 16th-consecutive win over the Mules, the Jeffs improved to 3-1 on the season, while Colby remained winless at 0-4.
Amherst held a 253-164 edge in total offense, including a decisive 124-27 advantage on the ground. Limiting the Mules to just 1.0 yards per carry, the Jeffs won the battle in the trenches, with Travis Dickinson ’13 recording seven tackles, including 2.5 for a loss.
Consistently in the Colby backfield, Amherst also notched a season-high four sacks, with Chris Tamasi ’15, Sam Clark ’34 and Benji Sklar ’14 each getting to quarterback Connor Emmert ’15 on the Mules’ ensuing drive following Heflin’s pick-six.
With Amherst driving inside the Colby 25 on its first possession, linebacker Henry Nelson ’15 intercepted Max Lippe ’15, before returning it 19 yards to the Mules’ 33. Facing a 2nd-and-4, Colby starting quarterback Justin Ciero ’16 looked to force a pass into tight coverage along the right sideline, but Heflin made a diving pick to give the Jeffs the ball right back.
Forced into a quick three-and-out, Amherst elected to punt, with Will Brewster ’15 pinning the Mules inside their two yard line. Bursting into the backfield on 1st-and-10, Dickenson stuffed Spencer Gopaul ’13 in the endzone, registering the game’s first points on a safety.
Holding the Mules to another three-and-out deep inside their own 20 at the tail-end of the first quarter, Amherst took over on the Colby 49 after a 33-yard Louw Scheepers ’15 punt. Stringing together a seven-play drive over the next 2:31, Lippe hit Wade McNamara ’14 on a 12-yard gain before a three-yard Kenny Aboagye-Adinkra ’16 run made it 2nd-and-7 from the 15. Looking to the endzone, Lippe threw a strike to tight end Tom Holahan ’13 to give the Jeffs a 9-0 cushion with 13:46 to go in the half.
Still down 9-0 midway through the third quarter, Colby took over on its own 43 yard line after a 15-yard Jackson McGonagle ’16 punt sailed out-of-bounds. Drawing a pass interference penalty, the Mules took a shot downfield on 1st-and-10, but Heflin fought off wide receiver Michael Lahiff ’13, coming down with the jump ball to momentarily end the Colby threat.
Facing 3rd-and-14 from its own 24, Amherst back-up quarterback Jonathan Pieterse ’16 tried to hand the ball off, but a botched exchange with a Jeff running back allowed an alert Jamal Grant ’16 to fall on the football, putting the Mules back in business.
Emmert promptly hit tight end Kyle Layne-Allen ’13 on a 21-yard strike to set up first-and-goal from the six. After a three-yard loss on first down pushed Colby back to the nine, the Mules committed consecutive penalties on a delay of game and pass interference, stalling the drive and forcing the visitors to settle for a David Bendit ’13 42-yard field goal with 4:51 to go in the third.
Getting the ball right back after an Amherst three-and-out, Emmert looked to get the Colby offense churning, but Heflin jumped a Jason Buco ’15 route on a third-and-six play, taking it back 24 yards to suddenly put the Jeffs up 16-3.
Riding the momentum, Tamasi recorded an eight-yard sack to start Colby’s next drive, before Clark dropped Emmert six-yards behind the line of scrimmage to set up a 3rd-and-24 from the Mules’ 13. Continuing to get penetration, Sklar took down the Colby quarterback for a third-straight time, putting the ball back in the Jeffs’ hands.
Amherst pieced together a six-play, 51-yard drive two possessions later, going up 23-3 on a Steven Jellison ’14 score. Picking up 17 yards on 3rd-and-7 with a dump off to Tyler Jacobs ’15 over the middle, Lippe pulled it down and scrambled for 14 more yards to get the Jeffs in the red zone. Jellison then ripped off a 12-yard run, setting up first-and-goal, before taking it in from five yards out, moving the pile across the goal line to cap off the scoring.
Jellison led the Amherst rushing attack, finishing with 83 yards on 19 carries (4.3 ypc). With starter Ryan Silva ’14 out, Aboagye-Adinkra and Jacobs filled out the Jeffs’ running back-by-committee, combining for 61 yards on 21 touches. Lippe completed 11-of-19 for 119 yards and a touchdown, while Jake O’Malley ’14 pulled down a team-high six catches for 34 yards.
Emmert went 17-of-34 for 114 and two interceptions after filling in for Ciero, who completed just 3-of-12 passes for 23 yards and a pick. Lahiff and Kyle Roth ’14 combined for nine catches and 96 yards, while Gopaul managed just two yards on 13 carries against a stout Amherst run defense.
The Lord Jeffs return to action on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Little Three rival Wesleyan.