Football Can't Close Out Bantams, Falls to 5-2
Issue   |   Thu, 11/08/2012 - 19:59
Megan Robertson '15, Public Affairs Office
The Jeffs take on 4-3 Williams on Saturday. Since the teams’ first meeting in 1884, the Jeffs’ record is 49-71-5.

With their second loss of the season last Saturday, the Lord Jeffs’ NESCAC title hopes came to a disappointing end at the hands of the Trinity Bantams. The Bantams were the only remaining undefeated team in the NESCAC and a loss would have dropped them into a tie with Amherst and Middlebury for the best record in the conference. With one week to play, all three teams would have likely won-out and earned a three-way split of the NESCAC title. Unfortunately for the Jeffs, Trinity proved too tough in the second half and ran away with their nation-leading 47th consecutive home victory.

Through three quarters, however, it appeared as though that streak might be in jeopardy. Scoring on their opening possession, Amherst set the tone for this game early on. The Jeffs began that first drive at their own 36-yard line, but moved downfield quickly as quarterback Max Lippe ’13 orchestrated an effective attack. The offense faced three third-downs, but each time Lippe had an answer, looking to the air and finding an open wide receiver to keep the chains moving. The Bantams eventually made a stand at their own 12-yard line, but Jake Schmidt ’14 converted on a 29-yard field goal to put Amherst on the board first.

The rest of the first quarter was a defensive battle, as neither team was able to get past midfield with the ball. The second period, though, was a different story. Trinity finally broke through the offensive stalemate with back-to-back big gains. A 23-yard passing play was followed by a 38-yard run that gave the Bantams superb field position. Amherst did stop the bleeding there, forcing three straight incomplete passes, but a Trinity field goal tied the game, 3-3.

Building on that momentum, Trinity’s defense forced a turnover on the Jeffs’ first play from scrimmage. Miscommunication on an option exchange led to a fumble that the Bantams recovered at the Jeffs’ 35-yard line. Facing a short field, it took Trinity only three plays to capitalize on Amherst’s miscue, as running back Evan Bunker ’14 took a direct snap at the goaline and bullied his way to a touchdown.

Now facing an uphill battle, Amherst needed its offense to respond before the Bantams gathered any more steam. Luckily, they did just that. Lippe found his rhythm, finding Jake O’Malley ’14 for an early first down that gave the Jeffs a little momentum to start the drive. Two plays later, Lippe looked to the air again, this time finding Gene Garay ’15 for 48-yard strike. The big gain moved Amherst inside the Bantam’s 10-yard line, and Lippe himself snuck into the endzone on the ensuing play to put the Jeffs back on top, 10-3.

With the offense clicking, Amherst would add to that lead on their next drive. Facing a dangerous third-and-1 on their own 29-yard line, first-year running back Kenny Aboagye-Adinkra burst through the line of scrimmage and found open space downfield. Only looking to get a first down, Aboagye-Adinkra instead gained 45 yards before being brought down from behind. Building on that play, Amherst continued to pick apart the defense, marching all the way to the Trinity three-yard line. However, as the Jeffs looked for the score, an errant pass was nearly intercepted by the Bantams. Luckily, the tipped ball ended up in the hands of Amherst wide receiver Brian Ragone ’16 for his first collegiate score. The touchdown gave Amherst a 17-9 advantage, and they would hold on to that lead heading into halftime.

Both offenses cooled off to start the third period. Trinity managed to tack on an early field goal, but they would not get anything else. Amherst matched the field goal with one of their own late in the third, putting the score at 20-12 heading into the final period. The game, though, was far from over. As Amherst knew from experience, fourth quarter leads were never safe against the Bantams. The last time these two teams met at Trinity, Amherst had surrendered 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points en route to a devastating loss. Unfortunately, for the Jeffs, this past Saturday would turn out eerily similar. The Bantams struck immediately in the fourth, cutting into their deficit on a touchdown run with just over ten minutes to play. Unable to make good on their two-point conversation attempt, the Bantams still trailed 20-18.

That Amherst advantage did not last long. Five plays into the Jeffs’ next drive, Lippe overthrew his intended receiver, instead landing his pass squarely in the arms of Trinity safety Rae Haynes ’13. The interception proved to be the turning point in the game, as Haynes ran untouched into his endzone, giving the Bantams a lead they would not relinquish. The pick-six plus a successful two-point conversation put the score at 26-20.

With all the momentum having swung back in Trinity’s favor, Amherst was unable to threaten the rest of the way. Two possessions later, the Bantams would tack on another touchdown, effectively sealing their victory and capping a final period that saw them put up 20 unanswered points.

The Jeffs will be disappointed with the outcome, but they have a lot to be proud of in the way they fought. This is a young team and to push the Bantams to the brink, especially at home, is no easy feat. Heading into the season finale against archrival Williams this Saturday, the Jeffs will have to build on that belief, as they look to deliver a Homecoming victory to cap a successful season.