AMHERST, Mass. – After escaping two potential game-winning field goals by visiting Wesleyan University and failing to capitalize on two possessions themselves, Amherst College saw Mason Von Jess hit a 20-yard field goal in double overtime as the Cardinals handed Amherst a 31-28 loss at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action Saturday afternoon.
Amherst (4-3) twice came from a touchdown down to take the lead over Wesleyan, but lost by the same score-line for the second straight week and suffered their second double overtime loss of the year.
Ollie Eberth '20 had a part in all four touchdowns for Amherst, throwing for two and rushing for two more. Both of his aerial scores went to sophomore wide receiver Daniel Dolan, who caught seven passes for 80 yards.
For the Cardinals, who improve to 6-2 on the year, sophomore Ashton Scott completed 20 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
It looked as though Wesleyan would be able to earn the win in regulation, as they lined up for a 25-yard field goal as time expired, but Blaine Fox '20 got his hands on the kick and the packed stands and tents lining Pratt Field erupted as the Mammoths kept their hopes of a victory alive.
Amherst won the toss in overtime and took the ball second, and Von Jess had his field goal attempt from 18-yards out hit the left upright, meaning a score would give the Mammoths the win.
After advancing to the Wesleyan seven yard line, Henry Atkeson '20 attempted to seal the victory with a 24-yard field goal, and improbably hit the left upright as well, sending the sides to a second overtime period.
On the first play for the Mammoths in the second extra frame, Eberth had his pass intercepted by Danny Banks at the Amherst two-yard line, giving the Cardinals the chance to score for the win. Wesleyan rushed the ball five straight times to the Amherst three, and Von Jess did not miss on this third attempt at being the hero.
The teams ended the first quarter tied at 14 after a bevy of offense in the opening possessions. Wesleyan took the lead less than two minutes into the action when Scott found Matthew Simco for a 36-yard score after a 42-yard return of the opening kickoff by David Estevez put the Cardinals in favorable field position.
Amherst answered right away with an 8-play, 75-yard drive that started with an 8-yard catch and a 10-yard rush by Dolan. Five plays later, Eberth floated a ball to the left pylon that Dolan hauled in for the touchdown to tie the score.
With 3:25 left in the quarter, Eberth pulled off an acrobatic rush for 26 yards, twirling his way into the end zone, and Atkeson added his second extra point of the day to give the Mammoths a 14-7 lead.
Eberth would rush for 92 yards in addition to his 167 yards throwing, while Brandon Huff '20 rushed 14 times for 70 yards as the Mammoths outgained the Cardinals 225-145 on the ground.
The first of three interceptions thrown by Eberth helped Wesleyan quickly tie the game before the first quarter had expired. Sam Kirk picked off Eberth at the Wesleyan 42 yard line and returned the ball to the Amherst 36 with under a minute to play in the first quarter.
On the first play from scrimmage, Scott found Estevez on the left side for a 36 yard touchdown pass to tie the game.
Estevez would cap a ten-play drive in the second quarter, again set up by a Wesleyan interception, with a 1-yard rushing touchdown to give the Cardinals a 21-14 lead at halftime.
Banks got his hands on an Eberth pass at midfield for his first of two interceptions on the day, giving the Cardinals the ball with 4:24 to play in the half, and a 27-yard pass from Scott to Simco was the big play on the drive to set up the Estevez plunge.
Amherst took a 28-21 lead with two scores in the third quarter, the first a 6-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Dolan in the corner of the end zone and the second a one-yard quarterback sneak with 3:08 to play in the third, set up by a 28-yard rush by Kellen Field '21.
The Cardinals struck with a big play again in the early stages of the fourth quarter as Scott dropped a ball into the bread basket of Simco, who was streaking down the right sideline. Simco, who hauled in 5 catches for 147 yards, caught the ball in stride and galloped to the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.
Both teams stalled on their next two possessions, with Amherst having to punt twice more in the quarter, the second time setting up an 8 lay, 53 yard drive for Wesleyan that ended with Von Jess's blocked kick at the end of regulation.
Wesleyan outgained Amherst 427-392, though the Mammoths claimed 22 first downs to 20 for the visitors.
John Ballard '20 led the Mammoths with 11 tackles, a number equaled by both Will Kearney and Chase Pratt of the Cardinals. Matt Schiano '22 and Nathan Tatko '22 each had sacks in the loss for Amherst.
Wesleyan's Ben Shaw had seven tackles and three pass breakups, while Babilah Fomuteh had the only sack of the day for Wesleyan.
Amherst finishes out their home schedule next weekend with a 1:00 PM game against Trinity, when they will honor their Seniors.
Wesleyan hosts Williams next weekend with a chance to win the Little 3.