Hartford, Conn. – Junior RB Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns and senior tri-captain S Rae Haynes (Hartford, Conn.) scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 40-yard interception return with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 32-20 victory over the visiting Amherst College Lord Jeffs in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field. Trinity, ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 6 in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll, wins its nation-best 47th straight regular-season home game. The Lord Jeffs, ranked No. 5 in New England, fall to 5-2 with their first loss in four games and fall out of contention for a share of the league title. Trinity last lost at home in 2001 to Williams, 31-10, and has never lost a home game on turf. The Bantams remain alone at the top of the league, one game ahead of Middlebury who Trinity defeated last week, 45-7, with one game remaining next week at Wesleyan.
Trailing, 20-12, after a 33-yard field goal by junior Jake Schmidt (Santa Monica, Calif.) with 5:08 left in the third quarter, his second of the day, Trinity opened the fourth period with a nine-play, 71-yard drive that included eight rushes by Bunker for 67 yards and ended with a one-yard Bunker plunge into the end zone. Trinity failed on its two-point conversion to make the score, 20-18, with 10:34 left in regulation. On the ensuing Amherst drive, Haynes stepped in front of a pass by Lord Jeff sophomore QB Max Lippe (Los Altos, Calif.) at the Amherst 40-yard line and raced to the left corner of the end zone to give Trinity its first lead at 26-20 with 8:55 on the clock. Amherst was forced to punt on its next two possessions, and Trinity added an insurance touchdown at the 2:18 mark of the fourth quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline from senior QB Ryan Burgess (Dracut, Mass.) to sophomore RB Michael Budness (Belchertown, Mass.). Junior RB Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.) ran the PAT up the middle for the lone successful Bantam extra-point conversion of the game to account for a 32-20 final score.
Amherst led, 3-0, 7:59 into the game on a 29-yard field goal by Schmidt that was answered by Trinity senior K Tim Costello (Solana Beach, Calif.) from 30 yards out at the 13:39 mark of the second quarter. Trinity went ahead, 9-3, 1:03 later, taking advantage of a Lippe fumble that was recovered by sophomore DE Lyle Baker (Andover, Mass.) at the Amherst 35-yard line. Bunker ran on first down for 24 yards and score from one yard out on a direct snap out of the shotgun two plays later, but Costello hit the upright with the PAT. After Costello and Schmidt traded field goals, the Lord Jeffs put together impressive back-to-back scoring drives in the second stanza with the first ending on a five-yard scoring rush by Lippe and the second closing on a six-yard touchdown pass by Lippe that was tipped and fell into the hands of rookie WR Brian Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.) to give the visitors a 17-9 lead the break. Trinity advanced to the Amherst 30-yard line on its last possession of the first half, but Burgess was picked off by Amherst senior DB Michael Aldo (Mansfield, Mass.) to end both the scoring threat and Burgess' streak off five games without an interception.
Burgess finished 11-for-22 for 125 yards, including three passes for a team-high 51 yards to sophomore WR Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.), while Lippe was 22-for-41 for 192 yards with nine of his completions going to junior WR Jake O'Malley (Medfield, Mass.) for a total of 61 yards. Freshman RB Ken Aboagye-Adinkra (Lynn, Mass.) paced the Lord Jeff rushing attack with nine carries for 63 yards. First-year P Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) played a major role with six punts for an average of 44.5 yards per attempt including two inside the Amherst 20-yard line. Defensively, Haynes totaled seven tackles and broke up a pass at the goal line to force Amherst to settle for a field goal on its first possession, while junior CB Akeem Labitue (Dorchester, Mass.) had a team-high 11 tackles, and Baker notched five tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Amherst senior captain LB Sam Clark (Andover, Mass.) led all tacklers with 12 hits, nine solo, and added one sack, while sophomore LB Chris Tamasi (Canton, Mass.) had 11 tackles and one tackle for loss, and senior DL Travis Dickenson (St. John's Mich.) recorded 10 tackles and a sack.