Jeffs Fall to Wesleyan, 20-14

Garay1_MIDD.jpgContact: Ben Badua

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AMHERST, Mass. - Plagued by turnovers, the Amherst football team suffered its first loss of the 2013 season, falling to Wesleyan University, 20-14, on Homecoming Day at Pratt Field.

Improving to 5-0 for the first time since 1993, the Cardinals snapped the Jeffs’ 10-game winning streak in the annual Little Three tilt which had dated back to the 2002 season.

With Amherst (4-1) scoring a touchdown on its opening possession, Wesleyan rattled off 20 unanswered points to take a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter. The Purple & White made it a one possession game with just over five minutes remaining in regulation, but a Cardinal interception on what was effectively the Jeffs’ final possession sealed the victory.

Amherst outgained Wesleyan 355-310, but three costly interceptions and a lost fumble stalled four Jeff drives. Holding the league’s best rushing attack over 100 yards below its season average, the Amherst defense surrendered 160 yards on the ground on 46 carries (3.5 ypc). LaDarius Drew ’15 paved the way for the Cardinals’ potent rushing attack, with 84 yards and a touchdown.

The NESCAC’s most efficient passer, Jesse Warren ’15 completed 14 of his 17 attempts for 150 yards and a 42-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Kevin Hughes ’14 led all Cardinals receivers with 81 yards on five catches.

Kenny Adinkra ’16 headlined the Amherst ground game with 84 yards on 14 touches (6.0 ypc). Max Lippe ’15 added 20 rushing yards as the Jeffs piled up 115 as a team. Lippe finished 20-or-35 for 195 yards through the air, with two touchdowns and a pair of picks. Hauling in a game-high 10 receptions, Gene Garay ’15 racked up 77 yards and a touchdown. Jake O’Malley ’14 added 64 yards, which included a 5-yard TD catch that pulled Amherst within six late in the fourth.

Moving the ball 82 yards on 12 plays, the home team quickly netted the game’s first points with a touchdown on its opening drive. Completing five of his first seven passes, Lippe found Garay in the flat, allowing the receiver to stretch over the goal line for the 4-yard score.

Chewing up 7:28 of gametime, Wesleyan answered with a 14-play, 67-yard drive. Facing a fourth-and-four from the Amherst 30-yard line, Warren threaded a 14-yard pass to Hughes to keep the drive moving. Later stopping the Cardinals in their tracks on a third-and-one inside the 10, Ned Deane ’15 and Max Dietz ’14 burst through the line, tackling Drew for a one-yard loss to force the visitors to settle for a 25-yard field goal.

Once again moving it on the Wesleyan defense, Amherst made its way to the Cardinal 23, but Devon Carrillo ’17 intercepted Lippe in the back of the endzone to end the threat. Turning the Jeffs over on their next possession, Wesleyan recovered a fumble at its own 48-yardline. Going 29 yards in eight plays, the Cardinals moved inside the Amherst 25 before the drive stalled. Looking at a fourth-and-15, Sebastian Aguirre ’14 connected on a 41-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 7-6.

Hoping to get something going before the end of the half, Lippe found Garay for a big 32-yard gain. Hooking up with O’Malley for a 23-yard pass play on the next snap, Amherst faced a first-and-10 from the Wesleyan 17. Unable to pick up another first down, the Jeffs hoped to tack on a field goal, but junior Phillip Nwosu’s 21-yard attempt was blocked by Donnie Cimino ’15 to keep the Cardinals within one at the intermission.

Pinning Amherst inside its own 10-yard line, Wesleyan forced a three-and-out and got great field position to start its second possession following the break. Ripping off runs of 19 and seven yards, Drew capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown scamper over the left side.

OMalleyMIDD2.jpgLofting a 31-yard pass to Wade McNamara ’14, first-year signal caller Alex Berluti got the Jeffs’ next possession off to a good start. Inside of the Wesleyan 35-yardline, Berluti looked to complete a pass to Garay, but Justin Sanchez ’17 jumped the route, picking off the pass to end the drive.

With neither team able to get anything going during the remainder of the period, Wesleyan struck again early in the fourth. Facing a second-and-eight after a false start, Warren fired a 42-yard strike to Hughes along the right sideline, with the senior racing into the endzone to give the Cardinals a 13-point cushion.

Still down 20-14 with under eight minutes to play, Amherst took over on its own 45. Completing three-straight passes, Lippe moved the Jeffs into Wesleyan territory. With a third-and-four from the visitors’ 38-yardline, the junior quarterback hit O’Malley for a 13-yard pass play. On a second-and-10 from the Wesleyan 25, Lippe rolled to his right, scrambling for 20 yards to set-up first-and-goal. Going to the endzone on the next snap, Lippe again found O’Malley on a slant to make it a one possession game.

Forcing Wesleyan to punt, Amherst got the ball back with 2:52 on the clock. Finding Garay for a 14-yard strike on second-and-10, Lippe moved the ball to the Jeffs’ 33-yardline. Three plays later, he again connected with Garay, this time for eight yards. With a second-and-12 from the Amherst 43, Lippe sailed a pass over Garay and into the arms to Sanchez.

Wesleyan ran off 1:05 off the clock on four-straight running plays and with Amherst unable to stop the clock, the Jeffs got the ball back with just two seconds left. Going toward O’Malley, the Jeffs tried to piece together one final play, but the ball fell to the turf as the game ended on the incompletion.

Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 led Amherst with nine tackles (7 solo), while Danny Chun ’14 and Landrus Lewis ’14E had eight stops apiece. Sanchez and Alex Daversa-Russo ’16 each made seven tackles, while Nik Powers ’15 recorded six stops, including two for a loss with one sack.