Week 8 Preview: Amherst vs. Williams

LineWIL.jpgContact: Ben Badua

128th Meeting
Amherst College (6-1) vs.

Williams College (2-5)
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 * Weston Field
Williamstown, MA * 12 p.m.



(Courtesy of Williams College)





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Bates @ Hamilton (12 p.m.)
Amherst @ Williams (12 p.m.)
Wesleyan @ Trinity (12 p.m.)
Colby @ Bowdoin (12:30 p.m.)
Middlebury @ Tufts (12:30 p.m.)

The 128th edition of the "Biggest Little Game in America" will be televised live on New England Sports Network (NESN). Tom Caron will be on play-by-play with Steve DeOssie providing color commentary and Katie Fitzgerald conducting sideline interviews. Please check with your local cable provider for channel listings. Alumni will be gathering at locations around the world to watch the game. For more information, visit the Amherst Alumni Association website.

A live internet broadcast will not be available, but fans will be able to access a tape-delayed version of the game online at 3 p.m. courtesy of Williams Sports Information. Live statistics will also be available.

SpearsWIL.jpg100-WIN CLUB
Upping his career mark to 100-35 with a 17-16 victory over Trinity last weekend, E.J. Mills joined legendary Amherst head coach Jim Ostendarp as the only Amherst coaches in the history of the 134-year-old program to reach the 100-win plateau. In 33 seasons from 1959-91, Ostendarp compiled a 168-91-5 record.

Saturday’s showdown marks the 525th game to be played on the grass of Weston Field before the historic site undergoes a renovation and switches to an artificial turf surface. Amherst and Williams met on the last game at the old Pratt Field last season, with the Jeffs securing a 23-20 victory over their archrivals.

Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 was named the NESCAC Football Defensive Player of the Week after turning in a stellar effort in the Jeffs’ 17-16 victory over Trinity College. Finishing with 11 tackles (8 solo), the sophomore safety helped force a pair of crucial Bantam turnovers in what was a closely contested game. Fairfield-Sonn intercepted first-year Sonny Puzzo at the Amherst 37-yardline in the first quarter, before recovering a fumble at the Jeff 29 midway through the third. He is the second Amherst player to receive recognition on the NESCAC honor roll this season, with fellow defensive back Landrus Lewis ’14E earning praise in Week 3 as the Defensive Player of the Week.

Williams holds a 71-51-5 edge in 127 meetings dating back to 1884. The Lord Jeffs recorded their first win in 1886, but would not get another until 1892, as the Ephs piled up an 8-1-1 mark through the first 10 games. The rivals were relatively even against each other until Amherst strung together a six-game win streak from 1981-86. Williams responded by putting together the rivalry’s longest unbeaten stretch, going 12-0-1 from 1987-99. The Ephs enjoyed another four-game streak from 2005-08, but Amherst has since regrouped, taking three of the last four showdowns en route to undefeated seasons in 2009 and 2011.

With 13 unanswered fourth quarter points, Amherst rallied past Williams, 23-20, on what was the final game on historic Pratt Field before the site underwent a major renovation during the offseason. Quarterback Max Lippe ’15 completed 12-of-21 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown, while running for two others. Jonathan Pieterse ’16 connected on 5-of-8 attempts for 77 yards, while Jake O’Malley ’14 hauled in five catches for 87 yards. Brian Ragone ’16 added 72 yards on three receptions.

Outgaining Williams 407-343, Sean Wilson ’16 led all Amherst rushers with 127 yards on 21 carries (6.0 ypc). Steven Jellison '14 added 36 yards on 13 touches (2.8 ypc), as the Jeffs finished with a 177-143 edge on the ground. Eph quarterback Tom Murphy ’15 completed 13-of-26 pass attempts for 171 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Alex Scyocurka ’14 led Williams with 135 yards rushing on 25 carries (4.9 ypc).

Striking first, the Ephs took an early 7-0 lead when Murphy threw a 39-yard touchdown pass at the 11:39 mark of the opening period. Capping off an eight-play, 50-yard drive two possessions later, Lippe tied things up with a 2-yard TD scamper. In the waning moments of a high-flying first quarter, Williams scored its second touchdown of the afternoon, this time thanks to a 16-yard pass from Marco Hernandez ’14.

With Williams outscoring Amherst 6-3 over the next two quarters thanks to a pair of Joe Mallock ’14 field goals, the Jeffs entered the final frame down 20-10. Wasting no time getting on the board, Lippe put the finishing touches on an eight-play, 80-yard drive with an 8-yard TD pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Forcing a Williams into a three-and-out on its next possession, Amherst took over on its own 12-yardline. Marching 88 yards in nine plays, the Purple & White retook the lead, getting a big 39-yard reception from Ragone that set up a two-yard Lippe go-ahead touchdown run. With one final shot at redemption, Williams got the ball back with 1:32 on the clock, but Jaymie Spears ’16 made an interception at the Amherst 46-yardline to effectively end the game.

Head coach E.J. Mills notched his 100th career victory as Amherst defeated rival Trinity College, 17-16, to improve to 6-1 on the season. Mired in a defensive struggle, Amherst pieced together a seven-play, 73-yard touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter, only to see Trinity (5-2) come right back and score a TD with just under four minutes remaining. Kicker Ben Rosenblatt had a chance to pull the Bantams even, but pushed the point after attempt wide left to keep the score at 17-16. Trinity got the ball back with 2:49 on the clock, but several big plays by the Jeff defense helped seal the win.

Quarterback Max Lippe ’15 went 18-of-29 for 199 yards and a touchdown, while Alex Berluti ’17 completed four passes for 52 yards. Gene Garay ’15 led all Amherst receivers with six catches (64 yards), while Wade McNamara ’14 enjoyed his best game of the season, gaining 85 yards on five receptions. Jake O’Malley ’14 finished with 49 yards on four catches, as the Jeffs racked up 307 yards of total offense.

Chris Tamasi ’15 made a game-high 13 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss, while Tyler Mordas ’16 and Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 each had 11 stops apiece. Fairfield-Sonn also nabbed his second interception of the season, while recovering a fumble in the third quarter to halt a pair of Trinity drives in Amherst territory.

Amherst put the game’s first points on the board with a 44-yard Phillip Nwosu ’15 field goal in the waning moments of the opening period. Capitalizing on Fairfield-Sonn’s interception, Lippe capped off a seven-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Moving 35 yards on eight plays, Trinity trimmed the lead less than three minutes later with a 31-yard Rosenblatt field goal.

Still down 10-3 in the third, the Bantams got right back in it with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Puzzo to Chris Ragone. Answering on its very next possession, Amherst marched the ball 73 yards on seven plays before Lippe found Garay in the flat for a 17-yard touchdown. Refusing to go away, Trinity nearly tied it with under four to go following an Evan Bunker 2-yard TD run, but Rosenblatt pushed the PAT wide to keep it 17-16. The Bantams would get the ball back with 2:49 on the clock, but a pair of Tamasi and Danny Chun ’14 tackles for loss coupled with a short gain and an incompletion sealed the Jeff win.

Williams gave undefeated Wesleyan all it could handle, but could not overcome a nine-point deficit in the last five minutes, eventually falling to the Cardinals, 16-14. Taking an early lead, Wesleyan capped off a nine-play, 52-yard drive with a 35-yard Sebastian Aguirre field goal. Extending the lead early in the second quarter, LaDarius Drew made quick work of a short field thanks to a 26-yard Donnie Cimino punt return to the Williams 4-yardline, scoring on the next snap.

Tacking onto the margin in the third quarter, Aguirre drilled his second of the day, this time from 31 yards out, to make it 13-0. Williams responded by piecing together a 55-yard, 14-play drive that bookended the third and fourth quarters. Marco Hernandez ’14 capped off the scoring drive with a two-yard TD run that made it 13-7. After Aguirre stretched the lead to 16-7 with a 22-yarder with 4:49 to go, the Ephs covered 65 yards in just four plays, pulling within two at 16-14 on a 4-yard Alex Scyocurka ’14 run. Williams got the ball back with just over three minutes remaining with a chance to mount a game-winning drive, but Mark Pomella ’16 was intercepted by Jake Bussani, allowing Wesleyan to run out the final 2:43 of regulation.

Pomella finished 19-of-31 for 121 yards and two interceptions. Alex Way ’16 and Greg Payton ’14 combined for 49 yards on six catches to lead the Eph receiving corps, while Scyocurka rushed for 49 yards on 19 carries (2.6 ypc).

The driving force behind Amherst’s success this season, the Jeff defense ranks second in the conference in both points (12.4) and yards (296.6) allowed per game. Especially stout against the run, the Purple & White sit third in the league charts, surrendering 100.3 rushing yards per outing, while ranking fifth against the pass (196.6 ypg).

Playing an integral role in the Jeff scheme are junior linebackers Chris Tamasi and Ned Deane, who rank first and second on the team in tackles with 56 and 55, respectively. Making a himself at home in opposing backfields, Tamasi tops the NESCAC in tackles for loss (16.0), while Deane ranks among the league leaders in sacks with four. Getting a solid push up front, Max Lehrman ’15 has gotten to opposing quarterbacks 6.5 times in 2013 while as a unit Amherst has recorded a league-best 20 sacks.

Nine different Jeffs have recorded an interception this season, led by Max Dietz ’14, Landrus Lewis ’14E and Christopher Gow ’14 with three apiece. Amherst’s secondary has helped produce a conference-high 17 interceptions, including two last week from Lehrman and reigning NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week, Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16.

Averaging 21.3 points per game, the Amherst offense ranks fourth in the NESCAC in total yardage (345.6). Paving the way for the league’s second-best passing game, quarterback Max Lippe ’15 sits second in the conference in passing yards (186.6 ypg), completing 126 of his 214 attempts with nine touchdowns. Wideouts Jake O’Malley ’14 and Gene Garay ’15 rank among the NESCAC leaders in receiving yardage, averaging 57.0 and 54.4 yards per game, respectively.

Relying on a running back by committee, Amherst has averaged 122.1 yards per game on the ground. Kenny Adinkra ’16 leads all Jeff tailbacks with 356 yards and a touchdown (50.9 ypg), while first-year Nick Kelly has come on of late, averaging nearly four yards per carry.

Allowing 19.6 points per game, Williams brings the league’s second-best pass defense (177.9 ypg) into Saturday’s showdown. Cornerbacks Josh Helmkemp ’15 and Taysean Scott ’17 have helped lead the way in the secondary, ranking among the conference’s leaders in passes defended with 10 breakups between them.

Giving up 307.1 yards per game, the Ephs sit fourth in the NESCAC against the run, surrendering 129.3 yards per outing. James Howe ’16 leads the team in tackles (47), while James O’Grady ’16 and Tom Caberle ’15 sit second (46) and third (42), respectively. Behind Howe’s league-high nine sacks, the Williams defense has done a good job of getting to opposing quarterbacks, recording the second-most sacks in the conference with 18.

Scoring 18.9 points per game, the Ephs are averaging 207.0 yards passing and 94.4 yards rushing per game. Completing 72-of-122 pass attempts (59.0 percent), Adam Marske ’14 has gotten the bulk of the snaps, averaging 197.2 yards per game with four touchdowns and six interceptions. Tom Murphy ’14 and Mark Pomella ’16 have also seen time under center, combining to complete 67-of-134 pass attempts for 660 yards, one touchdown and eight interceptions.

Greg Payton ’14 leads the Williams receiving corps with 23 receptions for 266 yards (44.3 ypg), while Steven Kiesel ’15 has averaged 10.3 yards per catch. Alex Scyocurka ’14 ranks eighth in the league in rushing, averaging 68.9 yards per game with four touchdowns.


QB – M. Lippe
RB – K. Adinkra
WR – J. O'Malley
WR – G. Garay
WR – B. Ragone
TE – H. Falter
LT – R. Wasielewski
LG – A. Dirks
C – J. Woodrow
RG – S. Mergner
RT – J. MacLennan
K – P. Nwosu
N – R. Perdoni
DT – M. Lehrman   
DT – O. Davis
ILB – N. Deane
ILB – T. Mordas
OLB – C. Tamasi
OLB – D. Chun
SS – J. Fairfield-Sonn
FS – M. Dietz
C – J. Spears
C – L. Lewis
P – J. McGonagle
QB – A. Marske
RB – A. Scyocurka
FB – Q. Forbes
WR – B. Griffin
WR – G. Payton
TE – A. Way
LT – A. Walsh
LG – P. McLaughlin
C – A. Felix
RG – M. Jewett
RT – C. Grossnickle
K – J. Mallock
DE – J. Howe
DE – M. Flynn
DT – A. Datema
DT – E. Higginbotham
LB – A. Blanco
LB – J. Bond
LB – J. O'Grady
S – T. Cabarle
S – N. Saffold
CB – T. Scott
CB – J. Helmkamp
P – J. Mallock



Max Lippe (126-of-214/1,306 yds/9 TD/7 INT)

Kenny Adinkra (93 att/356 yds/1 TD)
Nick Kelly (43 att/158 yds/1 TD)

Gene Garay (39 rec/381 yds/3 TD)
Jake O'Malley (30 rec/399 yds/5 TD)

Chris Tamasi (56 tackles/47 solo/16 TFL)
Ned Deane (55 tackles/41 solo/8 TFL/4 sacks)
Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn (47 tackles/2 INT/4 BrUps)


A. Marske (72-of-122/789 yds/4 TD/6 INT)

Alex Scyocurka (142 att/482 yds/4 TD)
Kristian Lapointe (16 att/76 yds/0 TD)

Greg Payton (23 rec/266 yds/0 TD)
Steven Kiesel (21 rec/217 yds/0 TD)

James Howe (47 tackles/33 solo/9 sacks)
James O'Grady (46 tackles/29 solo/3 BrUps)
Tom Cabarle (42 tackles/21 solo/4 BrUps)


122.1 avg.
W: 94.4 avg.

345.6 avg.
W: 301.4 avg.
100.3 avg.
W: 129.3 avg.
296.9 avg.
W: 307.1 avg.
223.4 avg.
W: 207.0 avg.
21.3 avg.
W: 18.9 avg.
196.6 avg.
W: 177.9 avg.
12.4 avg.
W: 19.6 avg.