Jeffs Use Balanced First Half to Get by Wesleyan

AMHERST, Mass. – The Amherst College football team used 176 total yards by running back Eric Bunker ’12 (Topsfield, Mass.) and 205 from quarterback Brian McMahon ’12 (Basking Ridge, N.J.) to earn a 24-10 win over Wesleyan University Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field.

Amherst ran for its first touchdown, threw for its second and returned an interception for its third, as the Jeffs took a 21-3 lead into the break. Wesleyan pushed back with a LaDarius Drew ’15 2-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals could not overcome their halftime deficit.

The Jeffs and Cardinals entered the weekend as two of the NESCAC’s top three running teams, but it was Amherst that held a 220-87 advantage on the ground despite Wesleyan running the ball 50 times.  Amherst improves to 5-0 on the season and will travel to take on Tufts next Saturday, while the Cardinals drop to 3-2 and will next face Bowdoin on the road.

Wesleyan’s Sebastian Aguirre ’14 and Amherst’s Matt Rawson ’12 (Bethesda, Md.) each connected on a career-long field goal during Saturday’s game. Aguirre’s 35-yarder with 3:08 to play in the first quarter made it a 7-3 game, while Rawson’s 45-yarder closed out the scoring with 4:03 remaining in regulation.

Bunker’s phenomenal day began with a 26-yard touchdown run on Amherst’s first drive, as he seemed to be out of running room before breaking through down the right sideline for the game’s first score. Rawson added the extra point, giving the Jeffs a 7-0 lead with 11:20 on the clock.

Aguirre’s field goal capped off a 10-play, 42-yard drive that lasted 4:44, but the Jeffs came right back with a touchdown on their next drive. Shortly after McMahon ran the ball 39 yards on a fake handoff, he found classmate Will Reed ’12 (Riverside, Conn.) in the end zone for a 7-yard strike with nine seconds remaining in the quarter, marking McMahon’s first career touchdown.

The turning point of the game came early in the second quarter. After the McMahon-to-Reed connection, Wesleyan quarterback Matt Coyne ’12 found Dan D’Arcy ’13 for gains of 18, seven and 10 yards. The Cardinals marched down to the Amherst 20-yard line and seemed poised to score, but a sack, a penalty and a tackle-for-loss pushed them back to the 37 and out of field goal range, forcing them to punt.

Amherst then put together a drive that allowed Rawson to pin Wesleyan on its own 1-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage Coyne was intercepted by linebacker Sam Clark ’13 (Andover, Mass.) at the 18. Clark made a perfect read on a pass over the middle and headed straight to the end zone, running to his right and through the Cardinals for a 21-3 advantage with 5:39 to go in the half.

Neither team put points on the board in the third quarter despite several big plays, including interceptions by Wesleyan’s Jake Bussani ’14 and Colin Hartwig ’12, a 73-yard punt by Jesse Warren ’13 that pinned Amherst on its 1-yard line, and runs of 47 and 22 yards by Bunker.

Wesleyan ran the ball 13 times and threw the ball twice during a 56-yard drive that lasted 7:18 and brought the score to 21-10 midway through the final quarter. Drew accounted for nine of those carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run that marked this third consecutive game with a TD.

The first play of Wesleyan’s next drive saw Coyne intercepted by Amherst cornerback Landrus Lewis ’13 (Pennsauken, N.J.), which led to Rawson’s 45-yard field goal with 4:03 to go. Wesleyan marched down to the 33-yard line but would turn the ball over on downs, allowing McMahon to take a knee and close out the game.

Bunker ran the ball 21 times for 143 yards (6.8 ypc), while Drew picked up 107 yards on 34 touches (3.1 ypc). McMahon was 13-of-26 for 146 yards, one touchdown and two picks in his season debut, adding 59 yards on five carries. Coyne finished 20-of-30 with two interceptions and 138 yards. Andrew Reed ’12 (Riverside, Conn.) led all receivers with 61 yards on three catches.

In addition to his pick-six, Clark led all players with 12 tackles. Matt Pieterse ’13 (Springfield, Mass.) recorded two sacks—one of which came on Wesleyan’s first play from scrimmage—for a total loss of 18 yards, adding 11 tackles for the Jeffs. Danny Chun ’14 (Monroe, N.Y.) and Lewis each added 10 tackles and a sack.

Cyprian Oyomba ’12 led Wesleyan with 11 tackles, two of which went for a loss. Bussani and Brett Bandazian ’12 added nine tackles apiece, with three of Bandazian’s resulting in a total loss of 10 yards. Cam Davila ’12 forced and recovered a fumble and chipped in with six tackles.

BOX SCORE

 

Justin Long
Director of Sports Information
Amherst College
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