Behind a stellar all-around effort, the Lord Jeffs put together their most dominant performance of the season last Saturday, blowing by Tufts for a 51-7 victory. Playing in front of parents and siblings for Family Weekend, Amherst had extra incentive to play well, which certainly went a long ways. The Jeffs got on the board early and never looked back, running away with the easy victory.
Quarterbacks Jonathan Pieterse ’16 and Max Lippe ’15, who contributed three touchdowns and 338 yards, led the Amherst attack. The passing attack was matched by an equally potent running game that picked apart the Jumbos defense to the tune of 200 yards on the ground.
Amherst’s 538 total yards marked their most efficient offensive performance in two years, which, ironically, also came at the expense of Tufts.
The Jeffs scoring barrage began with their first possession of the game. The offense took over at Amherst’s own 45-yard line and immediately looked to the air, as Lippe found Gene Garay ’15 with three consecutive passes. Within four plays, Amherst had worked its way to the Tufts one-yard line and gave the ball to Steven Jellison ’14 for the short touchdown run, putting the home team on the board first.
Feeding off the early momentum, Amherst’s defense stepped up its game as well. After forcing a three-and-out on Tufts’ second possession of the game, Michael Aldo ’13 cut the Jumbos third drive short as well, intercepting a pass to give the Jeffs great field position as they looked to add to the lead. The home team did just that, quickly picking apart the Jumbos defense to get into the red zone. Garay was again featured in the attack, making a beautiful one-handed catch along the sideline early in the drive. Finally, at the three-yard line, the Jeffs looked to first-year running back Kenny Aboagye-Adinkra ’16, who found his way into the endzone for his first collegiate score, extending the lead to 14-0.
The Jumbos, though, responded quickly. Helped by two Amherst penalties, Tufts attacked on the ground, trying to find a hole in the Jeffs’ defense. The strategy worked out; Jumbos’ running back Zach Trause took advantage of a clear path right up the middle, running the ball 36 yards untouched for the score and cutting the deficit to 14-7. Unfortunately for Tufts, it was all they would get on the afternoon.
With their lead cut in half, the Jeffs’ offense quickly got back to work. Amherst methodically moved downfield but was stopped short of a touchdown by an impressive Tufts’ defensive stand inside their red zone. The Jeffs settled for a field goal, as Jake Schmidt ’14 came on for the 21-yarder that pushed the lead to 17-7 early in the second quarter.
With their offense clicking, Amherst seemingly had all the answers for the Jumbos defense. Any small opportunity for Tufts was quickly smothered.
Facing third-and-12 on their next drive, Amherst seemed to be in a bit of trouble, but Lippe managed to find Brian Ragone ’16 for a 24-yard reception that kept the chains moving. On the very next play, Lippe himself took the ball 11 yards for his third rushing touchdown of the season. Amherst would also tack on three more points later in the quarter, as Schmidt came on for a last second field goal that gave the Jeffs a 27-7 advantage heading into the break.
Fortunately for the Jeffs, the second half of play featured a similar script to the first. There was certainly no letdown from the home team. Instead, at least immediately out of the gate, Amherst kept the pedal to the floor, looking to put the game out of reach.
However, on their first possession of the third quarter, Amherst still faced some trouble. Forced into a third-and-long situation, Pieterse was able to fire a strike to Jake O’Malley ’14 for 28 yards that kept the drive alive. Senior tight end Tim Holahan ’13 followed with a one-handed 17-yard grab on the ensuing play, moving the Jeffs inside the 20-yard line and setting up a quarterback sneak for a score three plays later.
Looking for a little more insurance, the Jeffs added to their lead on their next possession. It was Amherst’s shortest drive of the afternoon; Pieterse found O’Malley for a 44-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the drive. To cap the third quarter, Amherst’s defense got in on the party as well when Danny Chun ’14 picked off a Tufts pass deep into Amherst territory, running it back 72 yards for another touchdown. The Jeffs would score once more in the fourth quarter, as Will Brewster ’15 came on to kick his first collegiate field goal, but otherwise, Amherst was content to run out the clock.
Feeling good from this run-away victory, the Jeffs will look to harness that momentum as they face a tough challenge this Saturday. The team will go on the road to play Trinity, the only remaining undefeated team in the NESCAC, with the conference championship on the line. An Amherst victory likely earns the Jeffs a tie for the NESCAC Championship, whereas a loss all but guarantees Trinity the title.
The Bantams currently hold the nation’s longest regular season home winning streak at 46 games, so the Jeffs will need to be clicking on all cylinders if they are to pull off the upset of the season.