Week 7 Football Preview: Amherst @ Trinity
Amherst College (6-0) @ Trinity College (5-1)
November 6, 2010 * Jessee/Miller Field
Hartford, CT * 1 p.m.
Saturday's game between Amherst and Trinity will feature live video, audio and statistics. Links will be provided on the Amherst Athletics website as soon as they are available.
THIS WEEK IN THE NESCAC
Colby (3-3) @ Tufts (1-5) – 12 p.m.
Bates (1-5) @ Bowdoin (1-5) – 12:30 p.m.
Wesleyan (4-2) @ Williams (6-0) – 1 p.m.
Middlebury (2-4) @ Hamilton (1-5) – 1 p.m.
This Saturday will mark the fifth time since 1996 Amherst has carried an unblemished record into its Week 7 matchup against Trinity. The Lord Jeffs improved to 7-0 in 1996, 1997 and 2009, but their run toward a perfect season came to a halt in 2001. Amherst holds a 55-41-9 edge in the all-time series, which dates back to 1886, but Trinity has won 14 of the past 21 thanks to a pair of seven-game winning streaks (1989-95, 2002-08).
The Lord Jeffs trailed 9-0 at the end of the opening quarter but out-scored the Bantams 23-3 the rest of the way for a 23-12 win. The Amherst defense was the difference in the second half, as Trinity picked up only two first downs in the final 30 minutes. After Trinity running back Oliver Starnes '10 rushed for 105 yards in the first half, he picked up only a dozen in the second. Alex Vetras '11 threw touchdown passes to Will Reed '12, Andrew Reed '12 and Brian Murphy '11 in the second, third and fourth quarters, respectively.
AMHERST LAST TIME OUT
Alex Vetras '11 became Amherst's all-time leader in career passing yards and Eric Bunker '12 accounted for four touchdowns to lead the Lord Jeffs to a wild 70-49 win over Tufts. The Jumbos scored the game's first 14 points and held a 35-21 lead before halftime, but the Jeffs used a 35-0 run to gain control. In a game that featured 1,303 yards of total offense, Tufts set the NESCAC single-game yardage record (671) while Amherst accumulated 367 rushing yards and ran for six touchdowns. Tufts quarterback Anthony Fucillo '11 had a remarkable day, finishing 42-of-53 with three TDs, as his 503 yards broke the Jumbos' and the NESCAC's previous single-game records. The combined 119 points set a new record for highest scoring game in NESCAC history.
TRINITY LAST TIME OUT
Kicker Tim Costello '12 set a new Trinity record for field goals in a game with boots of 34, 22, 32, and 21 yards, and Evan Bunker '14 rushed for 159 yards on a College-record 44 carries to lead Trinity in a 25-10 victory over Middlebury. The teams were tied at 3-3 after the first period and the Panthers held a 10-9 lead midway through the second, but Trinity scored the final 16 points of the afternoon. The Bantams rushed for at least 200 yards for the fourth consecutive game and the fifth time this season. The Trinity offense held the ball for 42:20, while the defense held Middlebury to 23 rushing yards and 16 pass completions.
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
Trinity hasn't lost a home game since 2001 and Amherst is on the verge of setting a program record for longest winning streak, but one of these impressive runs will come to a halt this weekend. Since a 31-10 loss to Williams College more than nine years ago, the Bantams have won 38 consecutive games on the artificial surface of Jessee/Miller Field. There have been close calls for Trinity, with nine of those wins coming by seven points or fewer and at least one game in each of the past three years requiring overtime. Amherst, meanwhile, is currently tied for the longest winning streak in program history (14) after going undefeated in 2009 and winning the first six games of 2010.
Amherst quarterback Alex Vetras '11 has been immune to throwing interceptions, but Trinity cornerback Harry Melendez '11 has made opposing quarterbacks look helpless this season. Vetras has attempted 212 consecutive passes without being picked intercepted, while his stretch of 22 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass is believed to be the longest active streak in Division III. The Lord Jeff gunslinger will be up against the reigning NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week, who has had four two-interception games this season. Melendez's nine picks lead the conference by a mile (no other player has more than three), as he needs only one more to set a program record for interceptions in a season.
This year's Amherst team is the first in program history to open a season with six consecutive 30-point games, but Trinity has yet to allow a team to score 30 points. The Jeffs bumped their scoring average to a conference-high 42.8 points per game after chalking up 70 against Tufts last week, while the Bantams improved upon the conference's best scoring defense (12.2 ppg) by holding an explosive Middlebury offense to only 10 points. Trinity has held the opposition to 14 points or fewer in its five wins, while Amherst continues to challenge the program's single-season scoring record (1957, 34.8 ppg).
KEYS TO THE GAME
Each of Trinity's five wins has come by at least 15 points, as the Bantams have been in control of each game other than their 29-21 setback to Williams in the second week of the season. They are at or near the top of most NESCAC statistical categories, but their differential in rushing yards stands out above everything else. Leading the conference in rush offense (233.7 ypg) and all of Division III in rush defense (38.3 ypg), Trinity has run for at least 200 yards and allowed fewer than 50 in each of its five wins. The Bantams gained a season-high 340 yards on the ground against Bowdoin in Week 5 and surrendered a season-low -4 at Hamilton in Week 3.
That differential has allowed Trinity to lead the NESCAC in average time of possession (36:00), notably holding the ball for 42:23 against Tufts and 42:20 against Middlebury. If the Lord Jeffs want to maintain the Bantams they will need to follow suit of the Ephs, who held an advantage in rushing yards (87-80) and possession (33:41-26:19) during their victory over Trinity in Week 2. Amherst ranks third in the conference in rush defense (87.5 ypg), with only Colby (102) and Wesleyan (123) surpassing 100 yards on the ground.
Amherst ran for 367 yards last week against Tufts to mark the team's highest single-game total since Oct. 9, 2004, as the Jeffs boast the NESCAC's third best rush offense (209.3 ypg). The Bantams and Jeffs will throw a number of running backs at each other, with each team featuring at least six players who have run for a touchdown this year. Each squad also has three players who have carried the ball at least five times per game and are averaging more than 3.5 yards per attempt.
Eric Bunker '12 continued his breakout season by rushing for three touchdowns and 193 yards (both career highs) in Amherst's win over Tufts, currently ranking second among NESCAC running backs in touchdowns (8) and yards per carry (5.8) and fourth in yards per game (95.8). His younger brother, Evan Bunker '14, has been Trinity's workhorse for the past four weeks, entering the week ranked second in the conference in rushing average (101.3 ypg) thanks to three consecutive performances of at least 150 yards. Although the Bunkers will likely be the first options on Saturday, look for the second- and third-string backs to play a pivotal role throughout the game.
With Amherst holding a significant edge in total yards per game (458.8 - 379.3) and Trinity holding a considerable advantage in total defense (260.7 - 349.7), the Lord Jeffs' outstanding special teams may be the difference maker. Thanks in large part to reigning NESCAC Player of the Week Matt Rawson '12 and kickoff specialist Philip Nwosu '14, Amherst ranks either first or second in the conference in punting, kickoff coverage, and field goal and PAT percentage. Notably, Rawson was 10-for-10 on extra point attempts against Tufts, also pinning the Jumbos on their own 1-yard line on two punts, while Nwosu leads the NESCAC with seven touchbacks.
While Vetras is in the midst of an outstanding senior campaign, Saturday will mark only the second collegiate start for Trinity's Ryan Burgess '13. Just as Amherst's offensive line has been phenomenal at protecting its quarterback throughout the season, Trinity's line made things easy for Burgess, who was 12-of-20 for 168 yards without being sacked or intercepted last week against Middlebury. Each team has recorded 15 sacks this season, but Trinity will be up against an O-line that has allowed a NESCAC-low two sacks in 2010. The Bantams have proven they can stop the run, but they will need to put pressure on Vetras if they want to keep the Jeffs off the scoreboard.
QB - Alex Vetras - 12
RB - Eric Bunker - 14
TE - Charlie Pratt - 46
WR - Sean Legister - 22
WR - Brian Murphy - 4
WR - Andre Gary - 2
LG - Rick Morgan - 62
LT - Jack Reynolds - 51
C - John Ceccio - 54
RG - Marcus Richtel - 76
RT - Ian Mahoney - 70
SS - Evan Rosenstein - 23
FS - Kevin Heller - 10
CB - Nick Edwards - 25
CB - Landrus Lewis - 1
OLB - Sam Clark - 34
OLB - Jeff Katz - 98
ILB - Greg Kutzin - 33
ILB - Matt Pieterse - 42
DE - Brady Benelli - 55
NG - Matt Sponheimer - 50
DE - Kevin Ferber - 3
QB - Ryan Burgess - 14
RB - Evan Bunker - 21
T - Andrew Mortati - 73
T - Mike Valenti - 58
G - Gino Arnold - 69
G - Andrew Weiss - 54
C - Matthew Santora - 78
TE - Christopher Hunt - 87
WR - Michael Galligan - 4
WR - Drew Grombala - 7
WR - Nick Campbell - 24
NT - Tom Finnucan - 75
DE - Herman Brito - 98
DE - Gary Williams - 94
ILB - Walter Fallas - 42
ILB - Francois Auzerais - 36
OLB - Thomas Kilgore - 48
OLB - Eamon Hanifin - 56
CB - Harry Melendez - 1
CB - Matt Paskalides - 32
FS - Ben Sherry - 13
SS - Rae Haynes - 15
Alex Vetras (140-of-224/1,497 yds/14 TD/1 INT)
Eric Bunker (100 att/575 yds/5.8 ypc/8 TD)
Femi Oyalowo (52 att/272 yds/5.2 ypc/3 TD)
Ryan Silva (40 att/182 yds/4.6 ypc/1 TD)
Brian Murphy (30 rec/281 yds/3 TD)
Andre Gary (27 rec/197 yds/3 TD)
Andrew Reed (14 rec/319 yds/3 TD)
Matt Pieterse (45 tackles/21 solo/3.5 TFL/1 FR)
Evan Rosenstein (43 tackles/24 solo/2 INT/2 FF)
Jeff Katz (42 tackles/7.0 TFL/3.0 sacks/2 FF/1 FR)
Sam Clark (40 tackles/19 solo/5.0 TFL/1 INT)
Kevin Ferber (39 tackles/7.5 TFL/5.5 sacks/2 FR)
Craig Drusbosky (57-of-112/676 yds/9 TD/7 INT)
Evan Bunker (124 att/608 yds/4.9 ypc/3 TD)
Delonte Wellington (52 att/192 yds/3.7 ypc/1 TD)
Hedley Jennings (33 att/125 yds/3.8 ypc/3 TD)
Chris Hunt (22 rec/405 yds/6 TD)
Michael Galligan (18 rec/137 yds/1 TD)
Andrew Grombala (10 rec/84 yds/1 TD)
Walter Fallas (49 tackles/34 solo/9.5 TFL/1 FF)
Ben Sherry (26 tackles/17 solo/1 INT/4 brups)
Rae Haynes (23 tackles/13 solo/2 INT/3 brups)
Matt Walker (14 tackles/10 solo/5.5 sacks/1 FF)
Harry Melendez (13 tackles/10 solo/9 INT)
A: 209.3 ypg
T: 233.7 ypg
A: 249.5 ypg
T: 145.7 ypg
A: 458.8 ypg
T: 379.3 ypg
A: 42.8 ppg
T: 29.7 ppg
A: 87.5 ypg
T: 38.3 ypg
A: 262.2 ypg
T: 222.3 ypg
A: 349.7 ypg
T: 260.7 ypg
A: 16.7 ppg
T: 12.2 ppg