Story and photo courtesy of Amherst Athletics
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - James Durham turned a screen pass into a 64-yard touchdown, while the Amherst defense came up with a pair of fourth quarter interceptions to power the Jeffs to a 17-9 win over Wesleyan University at Corwin Stadium on Andrus Field.
Improving to 4-1, Amherst notched its 10th-consecutive victory over Wesleyan (4-1), denying the Cardinals a chance to move to 5-0 for the first time since 1993.
Wesleyan held a 356-303 edge in total yards, including a 136-131 advantage on the ground. Surrendering a league-low 63.2 rushing yards entering the contest, Amherst allowed its first 100-yard rusher of the season, with the Cardinals’ Kyle Gibson ’15 picking up 107 yards on 32 carries.
Missing starter Ryan Silva ’14 for a second-straight game, the Jeffs once again relied on a running back-by-committee, with Steven Jellison '14 leading the way with 36 yards on 11 touches (3.3 ypc). Quarterbacks Jonathan Pieterse ’16 and Max Lippe ’15 combined for 56 yards on the ground, while Tyler Jacobs ’15 had 24 yards on nine carries.
Logging 172 yards through the air, the Amherst passing game outgained the rushing attack for the first time in 2012. Pieterse finished 6-of-12 for 67 yards and a touchdown, while Lippe went 3-of-10 for 105 yards and a score. Durham led the Jeffs with two catches for 74 yards, while Jake O’Malley ’14 and Gene Garay ’15 combined for 73 yards and four catches.
Wesleyan quarterback Jesse Warren ’15 was 20-of-41 with 220 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Josh Hurwitz ’15 led the Cardinals’ receiving core with 99 yards and a TD.
Scoreless with just over five minutes to go in the first, Amherst took over on its own 37-yard line. After a four-yard Jellison rush up the middle, Pieterse found Wade McNamara ’14 on a bubble screen to the left for the Jeffs’ first, first down of the afternoon. Facing a third-and-8, he then hit O’Malley along the right sideline to keep the chains moving.
Picking up eight yards the next two plays on a couple of quarterback keepers, Pieterse hoped to earn another first down, but bounced a pass to the left off a Jeff receiver and into the waiting arms of Donnie Cimino ’15 to end a promising Amherst drive.
Forcing a three-and-out on the visitors’ next possession, Wesleyan took over on its own 26-yard line. Looking at a third-and-7, Warren floated a swing pass to Jay Fabien ’15 on the left side. Picking up 11 yards, the sophomore receiver looked to have a first down, but Robbie Heflin '13 forced a fumble near the sideline, giving the Jeffs the ball back at the Cardinals’ 40.
Keeping the drive going with a 10-yard completion to Durham, Pieterse dumped a screen pass to O’Malley after a 3-yard Jellison loss on first down. Cutting upfield, O’Malley got a block at the point of attack before racing up the right side and taking it into the end zone from 30-yards out to put Amherst on the board.
Starting a drive on its own 1-yard line with 4:23 left before the intermission, Wesleyan marched the ball 50 yards on 10 plays, setting up a 1st-and-10 on the Jeff 41 after a personal foul penalty for a horse-collar tackle.
Facing a third-and-3 from the 34, Gibson picked up 22 yards on a run up the middle, putting the Cardinals on the 12-yard line with 15 seconds remaining. After an incomplete pass, Lou Jacoubs ’13 and Ned Deane ’15 combined to stop Gibson for a 2-yard loss, forcing Wesleyan to burn its final timeout and settle for a field goal.
Pinning Amherst inside its own 5-yard line, the Cardinals forced a quick three-and-out before taking over with great field position on the Amherst 40 early in the third quarter. Completing an 11-yard pass to Kevin Hughes ’14 on third down, Wesleyan moved to the Jeff 23-yard line. Two plays, Warren completed deep pass to Dan D’Arcy ’13 at the left pylon, but an illegal touching penalty negated what would have been the go-ahead score. Hoping to salvage three points, the Cardinals lined up for a 40-yard field goal, but junior Sebastian Aguirre’s try fell short to keep it 7-3.
Taking over at its 23-yard line, Amherst handed it off to Jacobs on consecutive plays to pick up a first down. Scrambling for 15 yards on second-and-10 after an incompletion, Lippe hit Gene Garay ’15 31 yards up the right sideline, but the Jeff receiver stumbled as he made a cut back toward the middle, falling at the Wesleyan 20. Facing fourth down, Jake Schmidt ’14 connected on a 33-yarder that just cleared the crossbar to extend the visitors’ lead to 10-3.
Hoping to string together a drive, Gibson picked up 15 yards on second-and-1 to the Cardinals’ 38. Taking a shot downfield the very next play, Warren hit Hurwitz in stride for a 62-yard touchdown. Suddenly within one, Wesleyan looked to pull even, but Aguirre rattled the extra point off the right upright to keep it at 10-9.
Answering just over five minutes later, the Jeffs broke another big play. Slinging a screen pass to the left on second-and-29 after a pair of holding penalties, Lippe found Durham for what looked to be a short gain. Breaking a tackle near the line of scrimmage, the senior wideout quickly moved upfield, outracing a Wesleyan defender 64 yards to the endzone to extend the Amherst lead to eight.
With the Cardinals driving 52 yards on eight plays midway through the fourth, it was the Amherst defense that came up huge as Chris Tamasi ’15 picked off a Warren pass intended for Hughes at the Jeff 30-yard line. Getting the ball back with just over five minutes remaining, Wesleyan looked to piece together another drive, but this time, Michael Aldo ’13 came up with another Amherst takeaway, coming down with a batted ball at the Cardinals’ 33.
Eating up the clock with eight-consecutive running plays, the Jeffs moved the ball to the 13-yard line, but Schmidt pushed a 30-yard field goal attempt wide right to give the Wesleyan once final chance with 1:29 remaining.
With third-and-10 from its own 20, Warren connected with Hurwitz for a 22-yard gain. On the field for another third down, Kevin Callahan ’14 broke up a pass before knocking down another on fourth down to seal the Jeff win.
Deane, Sam Clark ’13, Danny Chun ’14 and Travis Dickenson ’13 each recorded nine tackles, while Aldo and Tamasi both had an interception. Prince Emenalo ’13 led Wesleyan with 11 stops, while Jake Siciliano ’15 and Zach Vinci ’15 made eight tackles apiece.
Amherst returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 27 against Tufts University.