Football’s Championship Hopes Dealt Blow by Bantams

Football’s Championship Hopes Dealt Blow by Bantams

HARTFORD, Conn. – With a chance to clinch the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football championship on the road at Trinity, Amherst College suffered a 27-16 setback to the Bantams on Saturday afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field.

Senior Bo Berluti caught nine passes for 142 yards, but Trinity got 205 yards rushing from Max Chipouras, who scored twice on the ground as the Bantams (7-1) handed Amherst their first loss of the season (7-1).

The Mammoths will now have to win their final game of the year, next Saturday at home against Williams (12:00 pm) and hope that Trinity falls at Wesleyan to clinch the outright NESCAC title.

Against an Amherst defense that was allowing just 53.7 rushing yards per game, Chipouras broke free on a third down for a 70-yard touchdown rush with 2:53 remaining to seal the win for the Bantams after Amherst had cut a seven-point deficit to four on a 33-yard field goal by Andrew Ferrero '19.

The game featured a wild first half that saw five blocked kicks between the two teams. Amherst piled up four sacks in the game, 1.5 each from Andrew Yamin '19 and Alex Katchadurian '20, including two on the opening drive for the Bantams. They forced two quick three- and-outs, but the Mammoth's first offensive possession came up empty when Matt Patry blocked a field goal attempt from 34 yards out.

A blocked punt by the Bantams led to the opening score of the game, as Koby Schofer caught a 16-yard touchdown in the back right corner of the end zone from Seamus Lambert to put Trinity ahead 7-0 with 2:42 left in the first quarter.

Lambert was 10-19 for 160 yards and two touchdowns, both of them to Schofer, who caught 7 passes for 106 yards.

Amherst tied the game with a five-yard pass from Ollie Eberth '20 to James O'Regan '20, with the big play on the drive a conversion on third and ten with a pass to Brendan Popovich '20.

Eberth completed 17-35 passes for 217 yards and ran for 31 yards on 13 rushes. Jack Hickey '19 gained 54 yards on the ground and scored from three yards out with 5:38 left in the second quarter to give Amherst a 13-7 lead. A 41-yard pass that Berluti leapt over a defender to corral set up that Hickey score.

Chipouras finished a ten-play, 75-yard drive with under three minutes left in the half to tie the game, but Matt Albino '21 blocked the extra point trie to keep the game tied heading to halftime.

Schofer caught a 33-yard touchdown with 6:33 left in the third to cap an 8-play, 70 yard drive and give Trinity a 20-13 lead.

It looked like the Bantams were on their way to making it a two-score game, but a 32-yard pass was wiped out by a holding penalty and then Avery Saffold '20 intercepted Lambert at the Amherst five-yard line to stop the Bantams late in the third quarter.

That turnover led to the 33-yard field goal by Ferrero to make it 20-16 with 7:51 to play in regulation.

With a stop on third and third, Amherst would have gotten the ball back down by four, but Chipouras bounced to the right side and got into the second level down the sideline for the 70-yard score.

Andrew Sommer '19 led all players with nine tackles for Amherst, while Saffold had five tackles, the interception, two pass breakups and a blocked field goal.

Ian McDonald had eight tackles in the win for Trinity, while James Christiano had six tackles, including three tackles for a loss, two of them sacks, and a forced fumble, which allowed the Bantams to run out the clock in the final two minutes.