Football Falls At Amherst

October 8, 2011

Amherst forced five turnovers and got four rushing touchdowns from Eric Bunker during a 48-28 win over Middlebury Saturday afternoon on Pratt Field.  Amherst intercepted three passes and recovered two Middlebury fumbles, with two of those turnovers leading directly to touchdowns. The Jeffs held a 34-21 edge at the end of a thrilling first half that featured five lead changes, and the hosts would out-score the Panthers by a 14-7 margin in the final two quarters.

Bunker ran for 130 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 19 carries, while quarterback Blake Grauer was 16-of-25 for 193 yards and tossed the first two touchdowns of his career.

In just his third career game, McCallum Foote came up one shy of the Middlebury school records for pass attempts and completions in a game—both of which are owned by Donald McKillop ’11—as he finished 46-of-73 for 400 yards and three touchdowns. Four Panthers racked up at least 94 receiving yards, with Nick Resor leading the way at 106 yards and two touchdowns on 13 catches.

Amherst came up with the two biggest plays of the back-and-forth first half, the first of which began to take form late in the opening quarter after linebacker Danny Chun recovered a fumble that was forced by cornerback Landrus Lewis at the Middlebury 33. After the Jeffs were whistled for a false start, Grauer hit Andrew Reed along the right sideline for a 38-yard touchdown strike. Reed juggled the ball for five yards with a defender hanging on his back, but he came down with the catch for the go-ahead score as Amherst took a 10-7 lead after Rawson’s extra point.

The second big play of the half resulted in the most significant momentum shift of the afternoon. Middlebury took a 21-20 lead on the second Foote-to-Resor touchdown of the day with only 2:45 remaining before intermission, but Bunker found the end zone twice in a span of only 71 seconds to help the hosts carry a 34-21 lead into the locker room.

After Bunker ran it in with 2:11 on the clock, the ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Middlebury and recovered by Amherst first-year Chris Tamasi. The Jeffs took over from the Middlebury 13 and scored on a 2-yard run from by Bunker, who also converted a big 4th-and-2 situation earlier in the drive. Bunker’s third score of the afternoon gave the hosts their 34-21 advantage with 60 seconds on the clock, and the visitors elected to wrap up the half by taking a knee. 

The second half didn’t feature the fireworks that accompanied the first, as neither team scored until Middlebury cut its deficit to 34-28 with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter. Shortly after Zach Driscoll  kept a drive alive with a nice catch over the middle in traffic, running back Remi Ashkar  found the end zone on a 1st-and-goal situation from the 4-yard line.

Amherst came right back on its next drive and took a 40-28 lead on a 27-yard completion from Grauer to Ben Kettering , allowing Rawson to add an extra point for a 41-28 advantage with 1:18 remaining in the third period.

Foote was intercepted three times in the final quarter, but it was the pick that came on 3rd-and-7 midway through the period that helped to put the game out of reach. Foote hit Driscoll on the run only to have the ball get knocked out of his grasp, allowing Lewis to come down with the loose ball and give the hosts possession at the Middlebury 40. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Bunker ran to his right and appeared to have nowhere to go, but he cut inside and sprinted up the sideline untouched for a 40-yard burst that gave Amherst a 48-28 lead with 8:41 to go.

Resor’s 106 yards led all receivers, with Driscoll (98) Billy Chapman  (94) and Matthew Wassel  (63) also contributing to Middlebury’s yardage through the air. Josh Amster  caught only two passes for 14 yards, but his 2-yard reception early in the second quarter gave the Panthers a 14-10 lead. Ashkar picked up 35 yards on 13 carries to go along with his third-quarter touchdown.

Kettering and Reed combined for 100 yards on eight catches and each had a touchdown to lead the Amherst receivers.

Amherst linebacker Matt Pieterse led all players with 14 tackles (11 solo) and a pair of pass breakups. Sam Clark added 12 tackles for the Jeffs, while Kevin Ferber forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and recorded the game’s lone sack. Kevin Heller joined Ferber and Lewis with an interception for Amherst.

Linebacker John Wiet led Middlebury with 10 tackles (nine solo), while Jared Onouye, Michael Bilodeau and Daniel Kenerson had eight tackles apiece.

Both teams will return to action next Saturday, with Amherst traveling to take on Colby (0-3) and Middlebury hosting Williams (1-2).