Jeffs Offense Explodes to 38-14 Win over Hamilton
Issue   |   Tue, 09/25/2012 - 23:01
Rob Mattson, Public Affairs Office
Tyler Jacobs '15 rushed for a 56-yard touchdown as part of the Jeffs' big win.

Looking to get their 2012 season off to a solid start, the Amherst football squad played host to the Hamilton Continentals on Saturday afternoon.

Returning to Pratt Field as the defending NESCAC champions, the Lord Jeffs were not fazed in the slightest by any added pressure they might have felt, running away with the 38-14 victory.

The Jeffs extended their overall winning streak to nine games, a stretch that spans to the beginning of last year when Amherst began their undefeated season. Given that recent success, the Jeffs carry a target on their backs, as every opponent will be gunning to pull off a big upset.

Their impressive opening effort, however, is a good sign that this team is, once again, capable of a title run.

Last season, the Jeffs’ running game was the foundation for their success. Clearly, that has not changed. Both literally and figuratively, Amherst ran all over Hamilton to the tune of 376 yards on the ground, while holding the Continentals to a mere 60 yards. For the Jeffs, that yardage marked the highest single-game total since 2004, which also came, coincidentally enough, against Hamilton in a 44-7 victory.

To start off the contest, the Jeffs began right where they left off last season. Their first drive resulted in a score, as sophomore quarterback Max Lippe, making his collegiate debut, found Tom Holahan ’13 for a five-yard touchdown pass.

The score marked the first career points for both players and for kicker Jake Schmidt ’14, who came on for the extra point.

The Jeffs, however, would give back their early lead on the ensuing play. Amherst’s kickoff was returned 94 yards for a touchdown, as Hamilton’s James Stanell ran down the right sideline for a score that swung the momentum back to the visitors early in the first quarter of play.

Not panicking in the slightest, the team merely went back to business. The Jeffs proceeded to chew up the Hamilton defense with a methodical eight-play, 74-yard drive that was capped by a 35-yard touchdown run from Ryan Silva ’14.

It was Silva’s first career collegiate touchdown, and, with 7:25 remaining in the opening frame, it gave the Jeffs a lead that they would not relinquish.

In the second quarter, Silva, once again, came up big for the Jeffs. Pinned on their own one-yard line after an outstanding Hamilton punt, Amherst looked to be in a precarious situation. Again unfazed, the Jeffs were guided by an exceptional 49-yard run from the junior running back that put Amherst in great field position.

The home side continued working down the field and capped the drive with a 32-yard end-zone strike from Lippe to Wade McNamara ’14.

The touchdown pushed the score to 21-7 and appeared to give the Jeffs a little breathing room. The Continentals, though, did not go away easily. They were able to respond quickly, putting together an eight-play, 62-yard scoring drive of their own. A 36-yard touchdown pass trimmed the deficit to one touchdown headed into halftime.

Unfortunately for Hamilton, that was all they would get for the rest of the afternoon. The Jeffs found a new gear in the second half and pulled away with ease. The scoring barrage began with a 29-yard touchdown run from Steven Jellison ’14 and was followed by a 36-yard field goal from Schmidt.

Tyler Jacobs ’15 got in on the action as well, scoring on a 56-yard run with 4:25 remaining in the fourth quarter that just about wrapped up the contest.

For both Jellison and Tyler, the touchdowns were the first of their respective collegiate careers.

Overall, the victory was an impressive group effort for the Jeffs. The youth and inexperience of this team was certainly the biggest question mark coming into this contest, but those concerns appear to have been addressed, at least until next weekend.

Lippe was outstanding in his first start at quarterback, completing 12 of 16 passes for 116 yards. More impressive was the manner in which he kept the team focused and calm during a tight opening half. Amherst’s running backs also showed that they can carry the offensive load when necessary. Silva’s 170 yards (8.5 yards/carry) led the offense, but Jellison and Tyler also shared a significant portion of the work, running for 59 and 97 yards, respectively.

None of that success, though, would have been possible without an exceptional effort from Amherst’s offensive line. The Jeffs have allowed the fewest sacks in the NESCAC each of the past four years, and this game was no different. Amherst did not concede one sack on the afternoon and seemed to outwork their counterparts, making life easy for Lippe and the rest of the offense.

Defensively, the Jeffs tightened things up tat halftime and ultimately did not allow a second-half point. Led by senior linebacker Sam Clark’s nine and a half tackles, the Jeffs’ defense managed to hold the Continentals to a measly four of 15 on third-down opportunities.

The Jeffs return to the field Saturday (Sep. 29) at Bowdoin and will certainly be looking for another solid team effort. Amherst defeated the Polar Bears last year, 20-3, but this will be a much tougher contest on the road.

Currently, NESCAC teams appear to fall into two tiers, as Amherst, Williams, Middlebury and Trinity all earned dominant victories this past weekend, scoring at least 37 points and allowing 18 or fewer in their dominant wins over the remainder of the NESCAC teams. That said, the Jeffs will only look as far as Bowdoin, who currently sits at 0-1 after a loss to Middlebury.
With the momentum from this opening victory, the Jeffs will have every opportunity to build on their success.