Amherst's defense has 19 sacks on the season, including this one by sophomore linebacker Ed Sylvester
Amherst at Tufts Football Preview
October 25, 2001
Amherst College Lord Jeffs (5-0) at
Tufts University Jumbos (4-1)
October 27, 2001 * Ellis Oval/Zimman Field
Medford, MA * 1:30 p.m.
Amherst holds a 43-23-4 series edge over Tufts, winning seven of the last eight meetings dating back to 1993. Tufts's last series win came in 1998 with a 30-16 win on the Jeffs' home turf, breaking a string of five straight losses. The Jeffs and Jumbos first locked horns in 1877, with Amherst coming away with a hard-fought 8-4 victory.
When will the Amherst defense allow a touchdown? Hopefully never. Ranked third in New England with a sparkling 5-0 record, the Jeffs - who finished in a three-way tie for the unofficial NESCAC Championship with Middlebury and Colby Colleges last season - have surrendered just six points in 2001 with three shutouts to their credit, thanks in large part to a defense that's first in the nation in opponent scoring average (1.2 pts./gm.), third in total defense (199.4 yds./gm.) and sixth in rushing defense (94.0 yds./gm.), pass efficiency defense (70.4 efficiency) and turnover margin (+2.4 turnovers/gm.). Amherst's "D" is so prolific, it may force the NCAA to rewrite a few pages in its football record book at season's end. The Jeffs are on pace to shatter a number of Division III marks, including fewest points per game allowed (Millsaps College holds the record, surrendering 31 points in nine games for a 3.4-point average in 1980) and fewest touchdowns allowed (the current record is four, held by three different teams). The key is a slew of experienced, hard-hitting seniors who simply refuse opponents any kind of offensive foothold. Of Amherst's top eight tacklers, seven are seniors, including linebacker Dan Lalli - who leads the team with 38 tackles - and defensive tackle Pat McGee - who leads the NESCAC with 16 tackles for loss (third in the nation at 3.2/gm.) and 8.5 sacks (fourth in the nation at 1.7/gm.). Senior linebacker Brian Landolfi is fourth in the nation in passes defended (2.4/gm.) to go along with 34 tackles and a team-high three interceptions, while classmate Gregg Stankewicz has a whopping 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks. In all, the Jeffs boast 13 players with 10 or more tackles, seven with at least one interception and another five with at least four tackles for loss. The scary thing is, Amherst may have found an offensive spark to match its defensive intensity. First-year quarterback Marsh Moseley earned NESCAC Co-Rookie of the Week honors after coming off the bench to throw a pair of touchdown passes in the Jeffs' 23-0 win over visiting Wesleyan University on Saturday. The rookie signal caller finished an impressive eight-for-16 passing for 129 yards as the Jeffs improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1997. Senior wide receiver Derrell Wright was the major benefactor, hauling in a season-high eight receptions for 109 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown grab. He leads the Amherst receiving corps with 20 catches for 263 yards and is just 265 yards shy of College Football Hall of Famer Fred Scott '74's career receiving record. Hampered by injuries earlier in the season, senior tailback Okey Ugwonali also had a breakout game with 144 yards against Wesleyan and leads the Jeffs with 403 yards on the season. Meanwhile, sophomore Fletcher Ladd has emerged as the Jeffs' second leading rusher with 263 yards and two touchdowns on 56 carries, in place of the injured, but healing, Kevin Kennard. On special teams, junior Geoff Bough leads the NESCAC with 37 punts for a 37.7-yard average, with 16 boots inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Head Coach Bill Samko's Jumbos enter this week's action with a 4-1 record after a heartbreaking 21-17 loss to Williams, on the strength of the NESCAC's second-highest scoring offense (27.2 ppg.) and third best defense (12.0 ppg.). The offense starts with junior running back Keven Kelley, the NESCAC's leading rusher with a whopping 707 yards on 132 carries, with six touchdowns and a gaudy 5.4-yard average. Classmate Chuck McGraw is ninth in the conference rushing race with 334 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries. Junior quarterback Scott Tearcy mainly hands off to Kelley (and McGraw), completing just 26 passes on 69 attempts - both the lowest totals among starting
signal callers in the NESCAC. Tearcy's chief target is McGraw, with 11 catches for 78 yards out of the backfield. Many of the key components from last year's defense are back. Co-captain linebacker Scott Mittenthal, who led the team with 73 tackles last year, once again paces the defense with a team-high 45 tackles, including 24 unassisted. Junior Sean Kennedy, a special teams ace and solid reserve last season, is right behind Mittenthal this year with 35 tackles, while Preseason All-American Evan Zupancic, who led the nation in passes deflected last fall and picked off six passes, has 25 tackles and another seven pass deflections. Special teams are a strength, especially the kicking game behind senior Howie Rock, who ranks just behind Amherst's Geoff Bough as the NESCAC's second leading punter with 25 boots for a 37.3-yard average. Zupancic is an accomplished punt returner with 13 attempts for a 10.8-yard average, including a 60-yard touchdown return, while Mark Tilki - also the Jumbos' third leading tackler with 25 takedowns - has fielded five kickoffs for a 22.6-yard average. The Tufts program is one of the oldest in the nation, playing its first game in 1869. The 2001 season is the 126th on campus, and some historians point to a Tufts vs. Harvard game in 1875 as the first between two American colleges using American football rules.
AMHERST STATISTICAL LEADERS
Jeff Browne (43-for-90/535 yds./3 int./3 TD passes)
Marsh Moseley (8-for-16/129 yds/0 int/2 TD passes)
Okey Ugwonali (78 carries/378 yds./2 TD)
Fletcher Ladd (56 carries/263 yds/2 TD)
Kevin Kennard (45 carries/261 yds./2 TD)
Derrell Wright (20 rec./263 yds./1 TD)
Derrell Wright (16 punt returns/124 yds.)
Geoff Bough (37 punts/37.7 avg.)
David Bodner (13-for-14 pat's/2-for-6 FG)
TUFTS STATISTICAL LEADERS
Scott Treacy (26-for-69/354 yds./6 int./5 TD passes)
Keven Kelley (132 carries/707 yds./6 TD)
Chuck McGraw (59 carries/334 yds./2 TD)
Chuck McGraw (11 rec./78 yds./1 TD)
Bryan Pitko (3 rec./103 yds./2 TD)
Evan Zupancic (13 punt returns/140 yds.)
Howie Rock (25 punts/37.3 avg.)
Howie Rock (16-for-19 pat's/2-for-9 FG)
Okey Ugwonali rushed for 151 yards and the game's only touchdown, while Amherst held Tufts to just 189 yards of total offense, as the Jeffs blanked the visiting Jumbos 8-0 on October 28, 2000. The Jeffs' defense set the tone early on the way to its third shutout of the season. After both offenses fizzled on their opening possessions, Amherst sophomore punter Geoff Bough pinned Tufts deep in its own territory with a 42-yard boot, downed at the Jumbo two-yard line. On the next play, senior linebacker Ken Barrington broke through the line and sacked Tufts quarterback Todd Scalia in the end zone for Amherst's second safety in as many weeks and a 2-0 lead for the Jeffs. The defense responded again late in the second quarter as Tufts went for it on fourth-and-one from the Amherst 32-yard line. Scalia lunged for first down yardage on a quarterback draw but was swallowed up by Amherst defensive linemen Ted Hollo and Kevin Bush as the Jumbos lost the ball on downs in their final possession of the first half. Tufts got tricky after the break. After Amherst
went three-and-out to start the third quarter, the Jumbos found themselves at fourth-and-five from their own 49-yard line, when defensive end Joe McLean took a direct snap off a fake-punt and rumbled 30 yards to the Jeffs 21. Two plays later, Amherst defensive tackle Pat Hayes, filling in for injured teammate Pat McGee, stuffed running back Brian Holmes for a two-yard loss, setting up a 41-yard field goal attempt by Howie Rock. Rock, kicking into the wind, hooked the kick wide left to hold the Amherst lead at 2-0. The Jeffs fumbled the ball away on their last two possessions of the third quarter but forced the Jumbos to punt both times. Finally, Amherst found the end zone for the first time in two games on an 11-play, 79-yard odyssey, as Ugwonali rushed nine times for 53-yards, capped by a one-yard scoring scamper with 10:44 remaining. The Jeffs attempted a two-point conversion but quarterback Peter Honig was sacked, holding the lead at 8-0. Down but not out, Tufts threatened once more, driving the ball deep into Amherst territory late in the fourth quarter, culminating with a fourth-and-one play from the Amherst five-yard line with 42 seconds remaining. Once again, Hollo stepped up and swatted Holmes in the backfield for a four-yard loss, icing the victory for the Jeffs as the home crowd celebrated. Junior linebacker Dan Lalli paced the Jeffs with nine tackles, while classmates Greg Stankewicz and Jay Hutchins added eight and seven takedowns, respectively.
TEAM STATISTICAL COMPARISONS
Rushing Yards/Per Game: 1,078 yds./215.6 avg.
Passing Yards/Per Game: 750 yds./150.0 avg.
Total Offense/Per Game: 1,828 yds./365.6 avg.
Total Points/Per Game: 103 pts./20.6 avg.
Rushing Allowed/Per Game: 312 yds./62.4 avg.
Passing Allowed/Per Game: 685 yds./137.0 avg.
Total Offense Allowed/Per Game: 997 yds./199.4 avg.
Total Points Allowed/Per Game: 6 pts./1.2 avg.
Rushing Yards/Per Game: 1,338 yds./267.6 avg.
Passing Yards/Per Game: 338 yds./77.6 avg.
Total Offense/Per Game: 1,726 yds./345.2 avg.
Total Points/Per Game: 136 pts./27.2 avg.
Rushing Allowed/Per Game: 470 yds./94.0 avg.
Passing Allowed/Per Game: 1,017 yds./203.4 avg.
Total Offense Allowed/Per Game: 1,487 yds./297.4 avg.
Total Points Allowed/Per Game: 60 pts./12.0 avg.
2001 AMHERST SCHEDULE/RESULTS
9/22 @ Hamilton W 24-0
9/29 BOWDOIN W 35-0
10/6 MIDDLEBURY W 7-3
10/13 @ Colby W 14-3
10/20 WESLEYAN-hc W 23-0
10/27 @ Tufts 1:30 pm
11/3 TRINITY 1:00 pm
11/10 @ Williams* Noon
*broadcast regionally on NESN
2001 TUFTS SCHEDULE/RESULTS
9/22 @ Wesleyan W 35-20
9/29 @ Bates W 41-12
10/6 BOWDOIN W 34-0
10/13 TRINITY W 9-7
10/20 @ Williams L 21-17
10/27 AMHERST 1:30 pm
11/3 @ Colby 1:00 pm
11/10 MIDDLEBURY Noon
2001 NESCAC STANDINGS
ECAC NEW ENGLAND POLL
1) Western Connecticut (6-0)
T-2) Worcester St. (8-0)
T-2) AMHERST (5-0)
4) Westfield St. (7-0)
5) WILLIAMS (5-0)
6) Curry (7-1)
7) TUFTS (4-1)
8) Nichols (5-2)
9) UMass Dartmouth (5-2)
10) Plymouth St. (4-3)