AMHERST, Massachusetts -- In a battle of two 4-0 teams, Amherst notched its fifth victory of the 1997 campaign with a 36-14 win over Little III rival Wesleyan in Amherst, Massachusetts. The Cardinals fall to 4-1 and will travel to Brunswick, Maine for a meeting with Bowdoin on Saturday, while the 5-0 Jeffs next face Tufts in Medford on the 25th.
The Jeffs racked up 539 offensive yards to subdue the Cardinals. Amherst scored on its second possession on a 73-yard bomb from Rich Willard (Johnstown, NY) to senior wideout Todd Haggerty (Albany, NY) with 5:47 left in the first quarter. The Co-Captain was just fou r-yards short of Amherst's all-time longest pass of 77-yards, competed in 1991.
Amherst would show off its running game with scores on its next two possessions. Darin Byrne (Winchester, MA) tallied a 10-yard run to open the second quarter as part of his 107 first half yards, 121 for the game. Fellow running back Jeff Coviello (Harrison, NY) closed out the first half with a 7-yard touchdown run as part of his 89 for the match. Jake Conca (Attleboro, MA) preserved a shutout before the half by stopping a Wesleyan drive with an interception in the red zone. Amherst took a 21-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the break, Wesleyan turned on its league-leading offense for two touchdowns in nine minutes. Driving 77 yards over more than five minutes, Jake Fay (Glastonbury, CT) launched a 13-yard pass to Matt Perceval (Box Elder, SD) in the endzone. Fay would connected with Perceval again late in the third with a 67-yard shot to set up the Cardinals at the Amherst 13. John Pascucci (Lynnfield, MA) posted a 1-yard run to cut the Amherst lead to 7 at the end of three.
But, despite Wesleyan's 41-9 scoring edge on opponents in the closing quarter, the Amherst defense, tops in the NESCAC and No. 2 in the nation, shut out the Cardinals while the Jeffs posted three tallies of their own. Liam Fleming (Braintree, MA) calmed the Homecoming crowd's nerves with a 29-yard field goal for a 24-14 Amherst edge before Coviello ran for his second TD of the day with 7:40 to play. Colin Barnacle (Denver, CO) caught his sixth pass of the day in the endzone with 1:51 left on the clock as Amherst took its first step toward the Little III title with a 36-14 win.
Wesleyan (4-1) 0 0 14 0 -- 14 Amherst (5-0) 7 14 0 15 -- 36 First Quarter 5:47 A Todd Haggerty 73 pass from Rich Willard (Liam Fleming kick) Second Quarter 14:30 A Darin Byrne 10 run (Fleming kick) 5:59 A Jeff Coviello 7 run (Fleming kick) Third Quarter 9:43 W Matt Perceval 13 pass from Jake Fay (Ben Kozik kick) 0:44 W John Pascucci 1 run (Kozik kick) Fourth Quarter 11:28 A Fleming 29 field goal 7:40 A Coviello 4 run (Fleming kick wide) 1:51 A Colin Barnacle 13 pass from Willard (Fleming kick wide) Amherst Wesleyan First Downs 31 17 Rushes-Yards 52-228 25-(-2) Passing Yards 311 303 Return Yards 57 136 Passes 32-19-0 37-21-1 Punts 2-59 5-181 Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1 Penalties-Yards 5-45 6-45