As October hits Massachusetts in full force, the football team is beginning to catch its stride and look like a force in the NESCAC. After a pair of victories to open up the season, the Jeffs pushed their record to 4-0 in the last two weeks, triumphing over both Middlebury and Colby.
Middlebury came to Pratt Field two weeks ago looking to give the Jeffs a battle, and the first half proved to be a hard-fought contest. Quarterback Blake Grauer ’12 found Andrew Reed ’12 for a 38-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter to put the Jeffs up 10-7, but the Panthers roared back to grab a 21-20 lead with under three minutes to play in the half. Amherst’s playmakers, however, came out in full strength for the next few minutes, as running back Eric Bunker ’12 scrambled for a score with 2:11 to play, giving the Jeffs a solid six point lead.
Amherst was not satisfied, however, and Bunker ran it into the end zone again with one minute remaining in the half after a special teams miscue gave the Jeffs the ball back. To avoid further mishaps, the Panthers simply chose to take a knee and go into the locker room trailing Amherst 21-34. They mustered a few efforts to close the gap in the second half, but the Jeffs retained control throughout and came out on top, 48-28.
Grauer threw for 193 total yards and tossed in a pair of touchdown passes in the win. Bunker ran for a career-high four touchdowns as part of his 19-carry, 130-yard performance that kept the Panther defense on their heels and gave him over 1,000 career rushing yards.
Kicker Matt Rawson ’12 also hit a milestone with his 22nd and 23rd career field goals, which set the new record for Amherst kicking.
The Jeffs then traveled to Colby last weekend, expecting to dominate the Mules. Amherst came out with the victory to extend its winning streak over Colby to an impressive 16 games, dominating on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Grauer threw for a career-high 293 yards, including two touchdown passes, but the special teams and defense showcased their abilities to score as well.
Gordie Lockbaum ’12 intercepted a Colby pass late in the first quarter and took it to the house, giving the Jeffs a 10-0 lead. Lockbaum proved to be a difference maker throughout the game, accounting for seven tackles and forcing a fumble as well.
Kevin Ferber ’12 also had a good day, compiling seven tackles, two of which were sacks, and a forced fumble. The defense was solid for all four quarters, but it was the special teams that gave the Jeffs a spark just before halftime.
In the second quarter, a routine Colby punt became arguably the most exciting play of the game. Landrus Lewis ’13 caught the punt deep in Amherst territory, but weaved his way through the Mule defenders for a 76-yard touchdown, the longest punt return for Amherst in the last 15 years. After the variety of ways the Jeffs found the end zone, they ended up winning by a score of 31-7.
At 4-0, Amherst sits atop the NESCAC in a tie with Trinity College. The Jeffs host Wesleyan this weekend, and will look to get a boost from the Homecoming crowd to continue their winning ways.