Defense Leads Jeffs to 17-7 Win Over Tufts
Contact: Ben Badua
MEDFORD, Mass. - Behind a stellar defensive effort, the Amherst football team earned a hard-fought 17-7 win at Tufts University to improve to 5-1 on the season.
Keeping their rivals winless, the Jeffs notched their sixth consecutive victory over the Jumbos (0-6), as head coach E.J. Mills upped his career record to 99-35. The 17-year veteran will get his first chance to reach the elusive 100-win plateau on Saturday, Nov. 2 when Amherst plays host to Trinity. The only other Jeff head coach to reach the milestone in the history of the 134-year-old program was the legendary Jim Ostendarp, who amassed 168 victories in 33 seasons from 1959-91.
Entering the game as the league’s second-ranked defense, Amherst surrendered just 116 yards in 61 plays from scrimmage. The Tufts passing game, which entered the contest ranked second in the conference, managed just 109 yards, while the Jumbo rushing attack picked up just seven yards on 30 carries against the NESCAC’s top-rated run defense.
Wreaking havoc in the Tufts backfield all afternoon, the Amherst defense posted a season-high seven sacks. Ned Deane ’15 led the way with 2.5 sacks accounting for 24 yards, while Chris Tamasi ’15 had a team-high 10 tackles (7 solo) and two sacks.
Offensively, the Jeffs racked up a season-best 515 yards, but came away with just 17 points thanks to six turnovers, five of which came in Tufts territory, including three inside the 20-yardline. Nick Kelly ’17 led an exceptional ground game that rolled up season-high 268 yards, helping Amherst finish with a nearly 15-minute edge in time of possession. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry, the rookie back gained 97 yards on 21 touches, while Kenny Adinkra ’16 had 59 yards on 15 carries (3.9 ypc).
Junior quarterback Max Lippe ’15 completed 16 of his 30 passes for 196 yards, while adding 58 yards on the ground. First-year signal caller Alex Berluti completed 6-of-7 attempts, while finishing with 89 all purpose yards (51 passing, 38 rushing). Gene Garay ’15 led the receiving corps with eight catches for 63 yards, while Jackson McGonagle ’16 enjoyed a breakout game, gaining 57 yards on three receptions.
Punting on its first possession, Amherst saw its next three drives stall inside the Tufts 25-yardline on a missed field goal, interception and fumble. Hoping to turn things around, the Jeffs took over on their own 44-yardline at the start of the second quarter. Facing a second-and-two from the Jumbo 48, Berluti completed two-straight passes to McGonagle for 24 yards before scrambling for seven more to put Amherst inside the 15-yardline. Five-consecutive Kelly rushes moved the ball to the one before Berluti ran it in for his first career rushing touchdown.
Once again turning the ball over on their next two possessions on an interception on the Tufts 5-yardline and fumble on their own 30, the Jeffs set the home team up with great field position at the tailend of the first half. Quickly taking advantage, quarterback Alex Snyder ’17 completed passes of 10 and 12 yards to Zack Trause ’15 and Greg Lanzillo ’15 to give the Jumbos a first-and-10 from the Amherst 20-yardline. Consecutive facemask penalties moved the ball to the 1-yardline, before Trause punched it in with 16 seconds left before the intermission.
After seeing another 75-yard drive end in a turnover early in the third quarter, Amherst took over on its own 46-yardline with 7:32 left in the period. Rushing the ball five-straight times, the Jeffs moved it to the Tufts 31 before Lippe hit Jake O’Malley ’14 for an 11-yard gain. Unable to move the chains following a 4-yard Lippe rush and two incompletions, Amherst settled for a 33-yard Phillip Nwosu ’15 field goal.
Still holding onto a 10-7 margin with under 12 minutes to play in regulation, the Jeffs regained possession on their own 38-yardline. Adinkra got the drive going, gaining 21 yards in three plays. Later facing a third-and-four from the Tufts 40-yardline, Lippe got flushed from the pocket. Scrambling upfield, the junior rushed for six yards to pick up the first down. On the very next play, Lippe hit McGonagle on a bubble screen. Picking his way up the right sideline, the sophomore wideout made his way to the 1-yardline, where Lippe would run it in with 8:29 left on the board.
Needing to get something going, Snyder scrambled for 20 yards on two plays during Tufts’ next drive, before finding Mike Rando ’17 on a 13-yard screen pass. The Amherst defense responded however, sacking Snyder on consecutive plays that totaled 19 lost yards before Tamasi and Tyler Mordas ’16 brought down Trause in the backfield for another three-yard loss that set up a fourth-and-32.
Chewing up clock, the Jeffs ran off 3:17 on eight plays during its next possession before handing the ball back over to the Jumbos on the Tufts 4-yardline with 1:17 left. Following an 11-yard catch-and-run by Jack Cooleen ’16, Amherst forced a pair of incompletions before once again getting to the Jumbos’ first-year quarterback, sacking him for a 10-yard loss that effectively ended the game.
Tommy Meade ’15 led the Tufts defense with 19 tackles (12 solo) and a forced fumble, while Mike Stearns ’17 and Ricky Antonellis ’16 combined for 27 tackles (17 solo) and a pair of interceptions. Tossing for 302 yards in his collegiate debut last week against Williams, Snyder managed just 109 yards against the Jeffs, completing 15-of-31 passes.