AMHERST, Mass. – Battling back to take their first lead of the contest with 1:27 remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter, an electrifying 51 yard touchdown rush by senior Hasani Figueroa stood as the difference maker, as the Amherst College football team clinched the come-from-behind win over Little Three rival Wesleyan on Homecoming, 21-17 Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium.
With the victory, Amherst improves to 5-1 on the season, while Wesleyan falls to 4-2 on the year. Amherst returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 28 when they close out the month of October on the road with a 1:30 p.m. matchup at Tufts.
Striking at the end of the first quarter, the Cardinals claimed a 3-0 lead following a 13-play, 81 yard drive. Mark Piccirillo's 31 yard rush to the Amherst 18 yard line spotlighted the drive for Wesleyan, while Corey Phillips came through on the 19 yard field goal attempt six plays later to give the visitors the edge at the 2:05 mark.
Extending their lead to 10-0 immediately after the ensuing kickoff, Shayne Kaminski intercepted a pass at the Amherst 31 yard line and returned the ball down the right sideline to log the pick-six for the Cardinals.
Responding immediately, the Mammoths cut the deficit to 10-7 on their next possession of the contest, as Amherst marched 58 yards downfield in under two minutes after a 37 yard kickoff return by Avery Saffold '20. A 24 yard Jack Hickey '19 rush moved the Mammoths to the 32 yard line, before Ollie Eberth '20 faked the handoff and rolled to his left for the 12 yard TD with 14:45 on the clock in the second stanza.
The next 20 minutes of football featured scoreless action, with the sides unable to find the goal line until the 9:20 mark in the third quarter. Capping off a six play, 67 yard drive, Piccirillo notched what remained Wesleyan's final score of the Little Three bout, as he held on to the snap and bulldozed into the end zone for a two yard touchdown to move the score to 17-7.
Making it a one score game on their first possession of the fourth quarter, Hickey barreled into the end zone on a six yard gain for his team-leading sixth TD of the season and John Rak '19 converted on the PAT attempt to get the Mammoths within three with 13:15 to play.
The Mammoths took their first lead of the day with 1:27 remaining in the four quarter, with Figueroa registering his third rushing touchdown of the season. Taking the handoff at the Amherst 49 yard line, Figueroa shouldered a tackled as he powered up the middle and broke free of the Cardinal defense to go untouched in a 40 yard sprint to the end zone and set the score at 21-17 in favor of the Mammoths.
The Cardinals converted on a fourth and inches with 50 seconds remaining as Piccirillo connected with Mike Breuler for a nine yard gain to move the chains, however Rob Monachello '21 came up with a clutch seven yard sack three plays later to push Wesleyan back to the Amherst 40 yard line to give the Cardinals a third and 17. Two incomplete long passes closed out the possession for the visitors as the ball was turned over on downs and Eberth took a knee for the final play of the game to clinch the crucial four point victory over the Cardinals.
- The Mammoths outgained Wesleyan, 339 to 197 and finished an impressive 4-for-10 on third down conversions.
- Eberth finished 10-for-16 for 161 yards and an interception, while Reece Foy '18 completed three of five passes for 18 yards.
- Leading the attack on the ground, Eberth racked up 56 yards and a TD on 13 attempts, while Figueroa and Hickey posted 44 and 37 yards, respectively, and each added a touchdown.
- With nine catches for a whopping 147 yards, Berluti led all receivers, while Craig Carmilani '18 added two receptions for 23 yards.
- Andrew Yamin '19 had a stellar game on defense for Amherst, recording 12 tackles, including eight solo and 5.5 tackles for loss, in addition to 5.5 sacks. Andrew Sommer '19 notched seven tackles on the day and 1.5 sacks, while Greg Franklin '20 chipped in six tackles and 1.5 sacks.
- Piccirillo finished 12-for-25, tallying 129 yards through the air while leading the Wesleyan rushing game with 26 attempts for 25 total yards.
- Sean Penney added 17 yards on the ground for the Cardinals, while Mike Breuler led Wesleyan's receiving corps with three catches for 57 yards. Evan Hull chipped four receptions for 32 yards.
- Brandon Morris led Cardinal defense with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery, while Pat Leone and Nate Taylor highlighted special teams play with a blocked field goal each. Kaminski had the lone interception of the tilt, and added three tackles to his 31 yard pick-six.