Football Wins Homecoming Game in Fourth Quarter Heart-stopper
Issue   |   Tue, 10/24/2017 - 23:28

Homecoming weekend was overall a smashing success, especially for the football team, which avenged last season’s loss against Wesleyan with a thrilling last-minute victory. Students, faculty and a great number of alumni gathered on an unusually warm fall afternoon Saturday to watch the Mammoths take on the Cardinals. With the victory, Amherst improved its season record to 5-1, while Wesleyan fell to 4-2.

The Cardinals were the first to get on the board, capping off an 81-yard drive with a 19-yard field goal at the 2:05 mark of the first quarter. Wesleyan struck again soon after the ensuing kickoff. Shayne Kaminski intercepted a pass at the Amherst 31-yard line, ran along the right sideline, returning it for a pick-six and a 10-0 lead. However, the Mammoths would not be quiet for long, as they were given excellent field position for their next drive thanks to a 37-yard kickoff return by Avery Saffold ’20.

A 24-yard rush by Jack Hickey ’19 put the Amherst on the Cardinals’ 32-yard line. Quarterback Ollie Eberth ’20 then capped off the drive with a beautiful fake handoff that gave him a massive hole to run right into the end zone for a 12-yard rushing touchdown with 14:45 to go in the second quarter.

The next 20 minutes of the game were scoreless, with neither team gaining much momentum until the 9:20 mark in the third quarter. Capping of a six-play, 67-yard drive, Wesleyan’s Piccirillo barreled into the end-zone for a two-yard run, making the score 17-7 in favor of the Cardinals.

With hope seemingly lost, Hickey scored his sixth touchdown of the season — a team high — on a six yard run to cut the deficit to just three points after a successful John Rak ’19 extra point attempt. With neither team able to muster much for most of the rest of the quarter, the game came down to the last few minutes. Hasani Figueroa ’18 took the handoff from Eberth at the Amherst 49-yard line and exploded into a sprint past the Cardinals’ defense for the winning touchdown, with just 1:27 remaining on the clock.

The Mammoths closed out the game with some stellar defense, notably first-year Rob Monachello’s clutch seven-yard sack to push Wesleyan back to the Amherst 40-yard line and force a third-and-17 play. Two incomplete passes for Wesleyan closed out the game and allowed Amherst to take a knee for the last play and leave the field with a 21-17 victory.

The Mammoths dominated the rushing game, out running Wesleyan 150-68. Eberth had an impressive game for Amherst, going 10-for-16 from the pocket and leading Amherst’s rushing attack with 56 yards and a touchdown. Bo Berluti ’19 also had a huge day, notching a total of 147 yards on nine catches.

Defensively, Amherst had several standouts. Andrew Yamin ’19 had a great game, recording 12 tackles, including eight solo and 5.5 tackles for loss, in addition to 4.5 sacks. For his dominant effort, Yamin was named NESCAC defensive player of the week and now holds a commanding lead in the NESCAC sacks category, with his 11.5 five more than the next closest challenger. Complementing Yamin’s career day, Andrew Sommer ’19 notched seven tackles on the day and 1.5 sacks, while Greg Franklin ’20 chipped in six tackles and another 1.5 sacks.

The Mammoths’ next game is away at Tufts, on Saturday, Oct. 28 where they will seek to push their season record to 6-1 and make up for last year’s performance against the Jumbos.