Jeffs Drop Williams, 20-7

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Rolling up 203 yards on the ground, the Amherst football team ended its season on a high note, defeating archrival Williams College, 20-7.

Playing in the 525th and final game on the grass at Weston Field, the Jeffs notched their third-consecutive victory over the Ephs, the team’s longest streak in the historic rivalry since capturing six-straight from 1981-86. Still holding a 71-52-5 edge in the all-time series, Williams fell to 2-6 on the season. Closing out the year with a 7-1 mark, Amherst finished in a three-way tie atop the league standings, earning at least a share of the conference championship for the third time since 2009 by virtue of Wesleyan’s 40-10 loss at Trinity.

Averaging 5.4 yards per carry, Kenny Adinkra ’16 led the Amherst rushing attack with 92 yards. Nick Kelly ’17 added 50 yards on 16 touches with a touchdown, while quarterback Max Lippe ’15 had 38 yards. Completing 60 percent (21-of-35) of his passes, Lippe also threw for 153 yards and a score as the Jeffs outgained the Ephs, 356-305, while holding a nearly six-minute edge in time of possession. Nine different Amherst players hauled in a reception in the win, led by Brian Ragone ’16, who had 47 yards on five catches with a touchdown.

A hallmark of one of the league’s stiffest defenses, Amherst forced four more turnovers on Saturday, upping their season takeaway total to 23. Jaymie Spears ’16, Danny Chun ’14 and Kevin Callahan ’14 each had an interception to help the Purple & White finish with a conference-best 20 picks in 2013.

Scoreless after the first 15 minutes, Amherst took over on its own 22-yardline with 12:37 to go in the second quarter. Picking up nine yards on a first down pass, Kelly rushed for two yards on the next play to move the chains. After Lippe scrambled for 10 more to set up a first-and-10 from the Jeff 43-yardline, the Eph defense stiffened and surrendered just seven yards on the next two snaps.

Adinkra_Wesaction.jpgFacing a fourth-and-three from midfield, Amherst went to the fake, as Jackson McGonagle ’16 gained 16 yards on a designed run to keep the drive alive. Later looking at a third-and-three from the Williams 26, Lippe tucked the ball and picked up 23 yards before going out of bounds inside the five. Punctuating the possession on first-and-goal, Kelly took it in from three yards out to put Amherst on the board.

Getting the ball right back after an Eph punt, the Purple & White pieced together another long march, this time covering 67 yards on 13 plays, while chewing up 4:10 of the 4:51 left before the intermission. After completing a pair of passes to McGonagle and Adinkra at the start of the drive, Lippe faced a third-and-10 from the Jeff 48-yardline. Finding Ragone, the junior signal caller came through with a 12-yard pass to move Amherst into Williams territory. On a third-and-eight from the Eph 27, it was once again Lippe to Ragone, this time for 16 yards. Three plays later, Lippe hit Ragone for a third time, connecting on a six-yard TD pass that gave the visitors a 14-0 halftime lead.

Battling back, the Ephs cut the deficit in half early in the third quarter. Taking over on the Williams 24-yardline following an Amherst punt, quarterback Mark Pomella ’16 launched a 76-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Richie Beaton ’14, to suddenly make it 14-7.

Coming right back, Amherst strung together a 50-yard, 10-play drive that ended in a 34-yard Phillip Nwosu ’15 field goal that stretched the lead to 17-7. Blocking a punt on Williams’ next possession, the Jeffs took over with prime field position, but the drive fizzled out on the Ephs’ 31-yardline when Lippe took a 7-yard sack on a fourth-and-eight.

Hoping to capitalize on a big defensive stand, Williams moved the ball inside the Amherst 30-yardline thanks in part to a 16-yard Beaton run on a second-and-10 from the 50. Forced to line up for a field goal on fourth-and-three from the 27-yardline the Ephs hoped to pull back within a score, but Joe Mallock ’14 pushed the 46-yard attempt wide left.

Tamasi_Wesaction.jpgStifling the next Williams drive, Chun nabbed his second pick of the season, stepping in front of a Pomella pass before returning it 22 yards to the Williams 20. Unable to pick up a first down, Amherst turned to Nwosu for a 32-yarder, but the junior missed wide right to keep it at 17-7. Recording a second-straight interception, Spears got the offense right back on the field by picking off Adam Marske ’14 on the next Eph snap. Looking at a fourth-and-five from the Williams 15-yardline, Amherst went right back to Nwosu, who drilled the 33-yard attempt to pad the Jeff cushion.

Needing to get something going late in the fourth quarter, the Ephs marched 67 yards in 15 plays to move inside the visitors’ 10.  Completing eight of his 12 passes during the drive for 53 yards, Marske had the Ephs on the doorstep, but the senior fumbled at the 6-yardline, handing the ball back to the Purple & White on a Ned Deane ’15 recovery. Running out the final 2:04 on five plays, Amherst put the wraps on the Jeffs’ fourth victory over their archrivals in the last five meetings.

Pomella finished 12-for-20 for 164 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Marske was 7-for-13 for 50 yards. One of the conference’s top rushers, Alex Scyocurka ’14 managed just 1.8 yards per carry, finishing with 24 yards on 13 touches as Williams picked up just 91 yards on the ground. Darrias Sime ’16 led all Eph receivers with six catches for 48 yards.

Spears recorded a team-high seven tackles for the Jeffs, including six of the solo variety. Chris Tamasi ’15, Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 and Deane each had six stops, with Tamasi also accounting for one of the team’s two sacks. As a unit, Amherst got to opposing quarterbacks a league-best 22 times this season. Putting together an impressive year, the Amherst defense finished 2013 ranked first in points (11.8) allowed and second in total yards (297.9) and rushing yards (99.1) given up per game.

Saturday’s contest also marked the final contest for a stellar senior class. Together the Class of 2014 posted a 27-5 overall record, enjoying a perfect 8-0 season in 2011, while earning a piece of the conference crown this year. Notching his 100th career win last weekend against Trinity, head coach E.J. Mills improved to 101-35 in his 17 years at the helm of the Amherst program.