WATERVILLE, Maine --- The Colby College football seniors walked away from Seaverns Field at Harold Alfond Stadium as winners in the final home game of the season in a 20-10 victory over Tufts University on Saturday.
The Mules (3-4 overall) have won three straight games and clinched at least a tie for the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title after Bates took a 24-2 win against Bowdoin on Saturday. Colby took a 37-13 win over Bates last Saturday. Tufts falls to 0-7 overall heading into next Saturday's home game with Middlebury College at noon.
Colby will look to make it four in a row to end the season and will have a lot on the line in next Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game at Bowdoin. The Mules, with a win, would secure a 4-4 record for the third straight season and would win the outright CBB title for the first time since 2005 (the three teams tied in 2009).
After the two teams combined for 83 points a year ago, Colby and Tufts had a much more tame game Saturday on a blustery day in Waterville. The Mules' defense held the Jumbos to just 198 yards of total offense.
Tufts struck first on the opening drive of the game after Dylan Haas (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) had a 43-yard kickoff return to the Colby 43-yard line. The Jumbos used five running plays and two passing plays on the drive. Johnny Lindquist (Higland Park, Ill.) completed a 22-yard pass to Pat Nee (Essex Junction, Vt.) on the first play of the drive and then connected on a 5-yard scoring toss to Mike Cresham (Rockville, Md.) for a 7-0 lead with 11:30 left in the first quarter.
"I think we lost our composure a little bit in the first half," Colby head coach Ed Mestieri said. "We regrouped at halftime and just told them to relax and settle down. When we play with confidence and free and easy, we're a tough team to beat."
The Mules tied the game at 7-7 before the end of the opening quarter on a six-play, 56-yard drive, ending in a 17-yard scoring run by quarterback Nick Kmetz (Laurel, Del.), who was one of 17 seniors playing in his final home game. Kmetz had a 9-yard run and completed a 12-yard pass to Rob Turner (North Easton, Mass.) on the drive.
The Jumbos used 16 plays over 59 yards and took 7:08 off the clock, but had to settle for a 35-yard field goal from Adam Auerbach (Glen Rock, N.J.) in the second quarter. Tufts had 13 running plays on the drive, including 11 and 16-yard runs by Lindquist to keep the drive moving.
Colby fullback Ian Leitch (Brighton, Mich.) may have had the most important 1-yard run of the season for the Mules in the third quarter. Colby went 11 plays and drove 84 yards, including an 8-yard run by Spencer Gopaul (Washington, DC) to the Tufts 1-yard line. The Mules tried two straight running plays on second and third down and were unable to get into the end zone. Colby called a timeout on fourth down and decided to go for it instead of settling for the tie. Leitch barely got in for the score as the officials had to delay their call until they were close enough to see that he had indeed hit the line. The Mules did miss the extra point and led 13-10.
The Mules received their insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter from an 11-yard scoring run by Kmetz, who had 49 yards on nine carries (5.4 per rush). Luke Duncklee (Augusta, Maine) had four carries for 15 yards on the drive and Kmetz completed passes of 8, 12, and 25 yards.
Christian Romano (Warwick, R.I.) did the job defensively for Colby in the fourth quarter with two interceptions. Tufts had reached its own 48-yard line on the first interception and was all the way to the Colby 36-yard line on the second pick.
Romano, a sophomore, is one of a number of young players on defense coming up solid efforts. The Colby defense has allowed just 30 points in the past three games.
"The better teams improve over the course of the season," Mestieri said. "That's always one of our goals is to improve on a week-to-week basis and I think we are. We're building on the success we've had and were with confidence."
Gopaul averaged 4.8 yards per carry with 12 rushes for 57 yards, while Duncklee carried the ball five times for 27 yards (5.4). Ian Borthwick (Arlington, Va.) added 40 yards of rushing. Kmetz was 16-for-27 for 183 yards and no interceptions. Turner caught four balls for 64 yards, while Lahiff had four grabs for 59 yards.
Ryan Pollock (Reading, Pa.) paced Tufts with 67 yards on 20 carries and also had six receptions for 22 yards. Lindquist had 101 yards passing on 17 completions and rushed 15 times for 30 yards. Nee led the receivers with 48 yards on five catches.
Colby defensive end Ryan Veillette (Westfield, Mass.) had a team-high nine tackles, two sacks, and two quarterback hurries. Veillette equaled his sack total of last year with 5.5 on the season. Henry Nelson (Redding, Conn.) added eight tackles and forced a fumble, Shayne Begin (Hillsboro, N.H.) had seven stops, Romano had six tackles, Zach Padula (Coventry, R.I.) had two tackles for loss among his four stops, and Kalu Kalu (Randolph, Mass.) finished with three tackles for loss of his four tackles.
Zack Skarzynski (Hinsdale, Ill.), the leading tackler in the NESCAC, led all players with 14 stops (9 solo) for Tufts. Curtis Yancy (St. Louis, Mo.) added nine tackles, a forced fumble, and one sack.
Colby 20, Tufts 10
Tufts............... 7 3 0 0 - 10
Colby............... 7 0 6 7 - 20
1st 11:30 11TUF- - Mike Cresham 5 yd pass from J. Lindquist (Adam Auerbach kick), 7-43 3:21,
04:16 COLFB11 - Nick Kmetz 17 yd run (David Bendit kick), 6-56 2:51,
2nd 11:59 11TUF- - Adam Auerbach 35 yd field goal, 16-59 7:08,
3rd 01:54 COLFB11 - Ian Leitch 1 yd run (David Bendit kick failed), 11-84 5:22,
4th 08:29 COLFB11 - Nick Kmetz 11 yd run (Johannes Scheepers kick), 9-76 3:29,
FIRST DOWNS................... 15 23
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 35-97 42-177
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 101 183
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 28-17-2 27-16-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 63-198 69-360
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-11 3-7
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 4-90 3-56
Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 2--88
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 6-37.5 5-33.6
Fumbles-Lost.................. 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards............... 10-84 3-28
Possession Time............... 28:35 31:25
Third-Down Conversions........ 6 of 14 5 of 13
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 1 1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 2-2 3-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-20 4-17
RUSHING: Tufts-Ryan Pollock 20-67; J. Lindquist 15-30. Colby-Spencer Gopaul
12-57; Nick Kmetz 9-49; Ian Borthwick 12-40; Luke Duncklee 5-27; Connor Walsh
3-3; Ian Leitch 1-1.
PASSING: Tufts-J. Lindquist 17-27-1-101; Ryan Pollock 0-1-1-0. Colby-Nick Kmetz
RECEIVING: Tufts-Ryan Pollock 6-22; Pat Nee 5-48; Mike Cresham 2-9; Nick Kenyon
2-9; Dylan Haas 1-11; Mike Howell 1-2. Colby-Robert Turner 4-64; Michael Lahiff
4-59; Connor Walsh 3-30; Nick Joseph 2-14; Spenser Merwin 2-14; Luke Duncklee
INTERCEPTIONS: Tufts-None. Colby-Christian Romano 2-minus 88.
FUMBLES: Tufts-Ryan Pollock 1-0. Colby-Nick Kmetz 1-0.
Stadium: Harold Alfond Stad. Attendance: 550.