AMHERST, Mass. – Hasani Figueroa '18 rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown and James O'Regan '20 hauled in seven catches for 151 yards and a TD to help the Mammoths outscore the visiting Panthers 21-7 in the second half, however a 28 point second quarter by the visitors proved to be the difference maker as the Amherst College football team was edged by Middlebury College, 35-31 Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium.
With the setback, Amherst moves to 3-1 on the season, while Middlebury improves to 4-0 overall. Amherst returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 14 when they travel to Colby College (0-4) for a 1 p.m. matchup.
Staunch defensive performances highlighted the first four possessions of the contest, as neither side was able to gain more than 24 yards in their first two offensive drives.
Breaking through with 1:28 remaining in the first quarter, O'Regan hauled in catches of 13 and 20 yards to help the Mammoths drive 53 yards downfield and set up a field goal. Tasked with a 21 yard attempt, John Rak '19 drilled the kick through the uprights to give Amherst an early 3-0 lead.
Middlebury responded on their next possession, as Jared Lebowitz found Maxim Bochman in the end zone and Carter Massengill converted on the PAT to cap off a 17 play, 81 yard drive and give the Panthers a 7-3 edge.
Continuing to hold momentum in the second quarter, the Panthers registered three unanswered scores to set the score at 28-3 with 3:58 remaining before halftime. Pinning the Mammoths inside their own 26 yard line twice on their next three possessions, Middlebury capitalized on the opportunity as Kevin Hopsicker and Wesley Becton logged pick sixes at the 8:48 and 4:21 marks, respectively, to give the Panthers a 21-3 lead.
The Middlebury offense earned a short field after an Amherst fumble at their own 15 yard line following an 11 yard kickoff return. Lebowitz made the most of the situation as he lofted a 27 yard pass to Frank Cosolito in the end zone to give the Panthers a 25 point cushion.
Amherst began clawing back into the game on their next possession, as a 30 yard return by Avery Saffold '20 proved to be the start of a shift in momentum. Needing just four plays to find the end zone, Jack Hickey '19 closed out the scoring drive as he cut to the right side and dragged two Panthers over the goal line to record the 34 yard TD rush and set the score at 28-10 entering intermission.
Added seven more points to the board on their first drive of the third quarter, the Mammoths cut their deficit to 28-17 following a pitch to Figueroa and an 82 yard TD run down the left sideline with 12:31 on the clock in the stanza.
Extending their lead 37 seconds into the fourth quarter, Middlebury made it a 35-17 game following a seven play, 66 yard drive. Lining up at the Amherst 31, Lebowitz dropped a pass into the arms of Conrado Banky in the top right corner of the end zone.
The Mammoths struck on their next possession to bring the home team within 11 points, as Ollie Eberth '20 finished 5-for-5 on the seven play, 55 yard scoring drive. Bo Berluti '19 caught a 27 yard pass on a third-and-12 opportunity to set Amherst up at the Middlebury four yard line, before Eberth connected with Harry Boeschenstein '20 in the back of the end zone to make it 35-24 with 11:22 to play.
Taking the snap at his own 18 yard line, Eberth found a wide open O'Reagan on the right sideline for an 81 yard touchdown pass as the Mammoths pulled within four, 35-31, with 7:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Amherst defense forced a quick 58 second three-and-out to give the Mammoths offense another chance, however Middlebury responded in kind and then ran out the last 4:56 behind three first downs to hold on to the 35-31 victory.
- Eberth finished 7-for-12 for 148 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Reece Foy went 7-for-14 for 54 yards and two interceptions.
- Figueroa led the Mammoths running game with 109 yards on 10 carries and TD, while Hickey added a TD and 80 yards on 12 carries. O'Regan posted a game-high 151 yards through the air, while Berluti hauled in five passes for 42 yards.
- Rak, John Callahan '19, Jack Barrett '19 and Andrew Sommer '19 each notched six tackles to lead the Mammoths defense. Sommer added a pass breakup, while Saffold chipped in two breakups and Nate Tyrell '19 added another.
- Lebowitz went 22-for-39 with 205 yards and three touchdowns, while Peter Scibilia led Middlebury's rushing game with 18 attempts for 67 yards.
- Cosolito and Banky each eclipsed the 50 yard mark, with Cosolito making six catches for 58 yards and Banky gaining 52 yards on five catches.
- With eight tackles, including six solo, and an interception, Kevin Hopsicker led the Panthers defense, while Aaron Slodowitz notched seven tackles. Kevin Maxwell and Fred DiTommaso each recorded a sack for Middlebury, while Jonathan Hobart forced a fumble.