Amherst Takes Down Wesleyan, 24-10
Issue   |   Wed, 10/26/2011 - 01:22
Alec Jacobson '12
Eric Bunker '12 led the Jeff offense, rushing for 143 yards on 21 carries.

The football team passed the halfway point of their season on Friday by extending their winning streak to a season-long 5-0 in a triumph over Wesleyan. While Amherst has traditionally dominated the matchup between these two squads, this year’s Wesleyan team possessed a potent offense featuring star freshman running back LeDarius Drew. Drew and the rest of the Cardinal squad came ready to spoil the day for the Jeffs but fell short due to an efficient offensive performance and stifling defensive effort from the home team.

Spurred on by a loud homecoming showing of students, alumni and faculty, the Jeffs came out strong from the outset. On their very first offensive series, running back Eric Bunker ’12 found the end zone with a 26-yard touchdown run. After a field goal put Wesleyan on the board, the Jeffs went back to work, scoring another first-quarter touchdown on a seven-yard connection from quarterback Brian McMahon ’12 to Will Reed ’12. This drive showcased the playmaking abilities of the Amherst offense at every position, as McMahon took off from the pocket on a fake handoff to gain 39 yards in a single play.

In the second stanza, the Amherst defense bent but refused to break, allowing the Cardinal offense to advance to the Amherst 20-yard line, but subsequently forcing the line of scrimmage backwards and out of field goal range. After playing a field-position game for a few minutes, Amherst kicker Matt Rawson ’12 then pinned Wesleyan on its own one yard line. The defense capitalized on the rattled Cardinals, as linebacker Sam Clark ’13 picked off the first pass of the drive and took it 18 yards for a touchdown, putting the Jeffs up 21-3.

The score would remain at the 21-3 mark until early in the fourth quarter, when Wesleyan tacked on a touchdown and Amherst responded with a Rawson field goal from 45 yards out, a career-high for the senior kicker. The third period was not without excitement, however, as Bunker continued his big day by ripping off a pair of long runs, one for 47 yards and another for 22 more. For his day’s impressive work, Bunker had 143 yards on 21 carries, which was good for a 6.8 yards-per-carry average. Amherst’s running attack as a whole was even more potent, compiling 220 total yards on the ground while holding the Cardinal to only 87 rushing yards.

Quarterback Brian McMahon ’12 proved his capability in his first collegiate start, throwing for 146 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions while also rushing for 59 yards on a mere five carries. On the defensive side of the ball, Clark enjoyed a successful day with 12 total tackles and the interception return and Matt Pieterse ’13 got to the Cardinal quarterback for a pair of sacks. The defensive push never allowed the potent Drew to get a rhythm no matter how many times the Cardinals handed him the ball. Drew’s 3.1 yards-per-carry average and the Cardinals’ turnover-prone nature helped the disciplined Jeff players to bury them early in this one.

The Jeffs have three games remaining on their docket; the team travels to Tufts next weekend, then closes the home portion of the season against Trinity, with whom Amherst is currently tied atop the NESCAC standings. Finally, in the season finale, the Jeffs travel to Williamstown to prove that last year’s loss was a fluke that should never happen again.