AMHERST, Mass. – Amherst College made big plays at critical times and held on to beat Tufts University 19-13 in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action on Senior Day, Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium.
With the win, Amherst improves to 7-0 and will clinch the NESCAC championship with a win next Saturday at Trinity. This is the fifth time in the last six seasons that Amherst has won at least seven football games.
John Callahan '19, who was honored among 19 Seniors in a pre-game ceremony, had an interception and a forced fumble, which he also recovered and returned 65 yards to the Jumbos two-yard line, setting up a two-yard rush by fellow senior Jack Hickey, which gave Amherst a double-digit lead in the second half.
Amherst got on the board first with a little bit of trickery. On fourth and five at the Tufts six-yard line, they lined up for a field goal try but snapped the ball directly to Bo Berluti '19, who scampered up the middle for a touchdown.
Andrew Ferrero '19 made two big field goals, one a 39 yarder early in the second quarter to make it 10-0 and then a 30-yard field goal to extend the lead to 13 points on the opening drive of the fourth quarter.
The first field goal was set up by an interception by Callahan, which stopped the Jumbos just past midfield.
Tufts got on the board with a 25-yard touchdown rush from Ryan McDonald with 4:15 left in the half, capping a 6-play, 73-yard drive that included a 38-yard rush by Mike Pedrini. The snap was botched on the extra point try, and the teams went to the half with Amherst ahead 10-6.
Pedrini went for 65 yards on just eight carries (8.1 avg), while McDonald was 17-34 for 137 yards through the air and added 45 yards and the score on the ground.
Callahan made the second big play midway through the third when he stripped the ball from Jack Dolan and nearly brought it back to the end zone but was tripped up just shy. It took one play for Hickey to punch it and Amherst led 16-6.
Hickey rushed for 89 yards on twenty carries and Amherst outgained the Jumbos narrowly on the ground (131-116) and through the air (150-137).
Ferrero's 30-yard kick was the last scoring of the day for Amherst, and Tufts took the ball and went 75 yards on 12 plays before Dom Borelli punched in the second touchdown of the day for the Jumbos, making it a one-possession game with still more than nine minutes to play.
Amherst forced a punt on the Jumbo's next possession, but Tufts got the ball back at their own 32 yard-line with 3:00 to play. The Mammoths needed another big play to seal the victory, and they got it in the form of a 12-yard sack by Joe Kelly '21 and Alex Katchadurian '20, sending Tufts back to their own 25 and forcing them into a 4th and 17.
On that fourth down try, senior Zach Allen sealed the win when he intercepted Paul Campo at the 47-yard line.
Andrew Sommer '19 led the Mammoths with 11 tackles and a sack, while Allen added eight tackles and two pass break-ups. Sophomore Matt Durburow '21 was active with three pass breakups.
Jack Walton led all players with 12 tackles in the loss for Tufts. Kevin Quisumbing had six tackles, two tackles for loss, including Tufts' only sack, and a forced fumble.
Junior quarterback Ollie Eberth completed 14 of 26 passes for 150 yards. His favorite target on the day was James O'Regan '20, who caught seven balls for 80 yards. Harry Boeschenstein '20 had two catches for 40 yards.
Tufts returns home for their final game at Ellis Oval this year, a 1:00 PM game against Colby.
The Mammoths will kick off at the same-time in Hartford against the Bantams (6-1).