AMHERST, Mass. – Jack Hickey '19 found the end zone three times as the Amherst College football team powered to a 34-0 victory over Hamilton College in Saturday afternoon's season opener for both teams at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium.
With the win, Amherst begins its campaign 1-0, while Hamilton starts its season 0-1. The Purple & White return to action Saturday, Oct. 1 at Bowdoin College for a 1 p.m. tilt in Brunswick, Maine. The win extends Amherst's winning streak to a program-record 20 games dating back to the 2013 season.
Amherst held Hamilton scoreless for the 14th time in 27 meetings between the sides, and for the first time since posting a 24-0 win in 2001. The Purple & White has now won 12 straight over the Continentals since 1992.
After forcing a three-and-out on Hamilton's first possession of the game, Amherst hit its stride early as Alex Berluti '17 completed an 18-yard pass on third and eight to Devin Boehm '17 who was brought down at the Hamilton 28-yard line. A 17-yard pass to Boehm on the following play gave the Purple & White the ball at the Hamilton 11. Following a pair short-yardage rushes, Hickey found the end zone for the first of his three scores at the 9:27 mark of the first quarter to give Amherst a 7-0 lead following the P-A-T from Charlie Wall '18.
After forcing four Hamilton punts, and with the Purple & White holding a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes of play, Amherst used a 15-yard punt return by Boehm to setup its second drive of the second quarter beginning at its own 45-yard line. Facing a second and seven at the Hamilton 39, Hasani Figueroa '18 broke off a 31 yard scamper down the left sideline before Colby Jones finally pushed him out to give Amherst first and goal at the eight-yard line. Two plays later, Hickey picked up his second rushing touchdown of the half to give the hosts a 13-0 lead following a miss on the ensuing P-A-T.
After exchanging punts on the next two possessions, Hamilton mounted an impressive 11-play drive starting from its own 23 that was highlighted by a 10-yard pass from Cole Freeman to Alex Waugh, and a 12-yard pass from Freeman to Eli Saucier. Looking at a third and 15 play from the Amherst 31, Matt Rusk-Kosa '18 picked off a Freeman pass at the 20 yard line and returned it 80 yards for a potential score, but the play was negated by a pass interference penalty giving the Continentals a first down at the Purple & White 19-yard line. On the very next play, Derek Ward '17 picked off Freeman's pass attempt in the end zone to keep the game at 13-0 at halftime.
Amherst put together a methodical, 11-play, 75-yard drive to start the third quarter as Berluti rushed for 12 yards before finding Boehm for a 46-yard catch-and-carry to the Hamilton 17 before Conor Powers hauled him down. After a Continentals' sack by Tyler Hudson put the ball on the 24-yard line, Berluti again found Boehm for a 15-yard completion, and Hickey pounded out five yards on the ground to setup a first and goal at the four-yard line. Hickey capitalized with his third touchdown of the game to help give the Purple & White a 20-0 lead.
With the score still set at 20-0 early in the fourth quarter, Amherst took advantage of a short field as the Purple & White drove 24-yards in seven plays. On second and eight at the Hamilton 13-yard line, a bad snap resulted in a loss of 14 yards and a fumble recovery by the Continentals' Brent Lobien. Three plays later, Parker Chapman '17 forced a Trevor Pinkham fumble on the Hamilton 38 that was recovered by Bolaji Ekhator '18 to give Amherst the ball back with 12:58 remaining in the contest.
Berluti hit Figueroa for an 18-yard pass to start the drive, and then rushed for 26 yards to the four-yard line, setting up a five-yard touchdown pass to Boehm to give the Purple & White a commanding, 27-0 advantage with 10:50 to play in the fourth quarter.
Amherst capped its scoring on an 8-play, 49-yard drive that saw backup quarterback Nick Morales '19 complete a 16-yard pass to James O'Regan '20, and a 14-yard pass to A.J. Poplin '18. Two plays later, Raheem Jackson '17 found pay dirt on a three-yard carry to set the final score at 34-0.
- Berluti was 17-for-27 through the air for 182 yards and a touchdown, and added 51 yards rushing in the win. Morales finished 2-for-2 for 30 yards.
- Hickey gained 67 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns, while Boehm made seven receptions for 113 yards and a score.
- The Amherst defense was led by Evan Boynton '16 who made seven total tackles (four solo), while Chapman and John Callahan '19 finished with five tackles each. Ward and Jack Barrett '19 each made an interception, while Chapman added a forced fumble.
- The Purple & White held Hamilton to just 168 yards of total offense – 162 of which came through the air – while Amherst posted 382 yards.
- Freeman finished 16-for-33 with a long strike to Charles Ensley for 42 yards, and an interception in the losing effort. Ensley finished with seven catches for 69 yards.
- Hudson led the Continentals' defense with 12 tackles and a pair of sacks, while Lobien and Mickey Keating added eight tackles each.
- Amherst punter Andrew Ferrero '19 and Hamilton punter Erik Fyrer each had two punts land inside the 20-yard line.