Greg Muecke '07
Junior linebacker Greg Muecke posted 10 tackles, a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries on Saturday.

Jeffs Edged by Bowdoin, 16-13

September 24, 2005

AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College football team suffered a tough 16-13 loss to visiting NESCAC rival Bowdoin College in the Jeffs' home-opener on Saturday. The Polar Bears capitalized on seven Jeff turnovers as they remained undefeated and moved to 2-0 on the season, while Amherst dropped to 1-1 with the loss.

Amherst dominated the line of scrimmage all game, rolling up 399 yards of total offense, including 282 on the ground, while holding the Polar Bears to just 139 offensive yards. The Jeffs also held a distinct advantage in time of possession, holding the ball for over 37 minutes of play. However, Bowdoin managed to come up with a trio of interceptions and jumped on four of six Amherst fumbles to stifle the Jeffs' charge and secure the narrow victory. Bowdoin junior linebacker Dave Donahue (Ashland, MA) led the way returning an interception 65 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and scooping up a pair of fumbles, including a takeaway in the fourth quarter as he stole the ball away from Amherst junior quarterback Nick Kehoe (Washington Depot, CT) on the Bowdoin goal line to keep the Jeffs out of the end zone.

The opening session was ugly as the two squads combined for six turnovers in just seven possessions. Donahue, classmate John Regan (Newburyport, MA) and senior Mike Minogue (Saratoga Springs, NY) each pulled down interceptions, and Donahue fell on a fumble forced by Regan, while Amherst senior outside linebacker Justin Roemer (Jupiter, FL) picked off Bowdoin senior signal caller Ricky Leclerc (Manchester, NH), junior inside linebacker Greg Muecke (Atlanta, GA) forced and recovered a fumble and senior tri-captain L.J. Spinnato (Madison, CT) blocked the Polar Bears' extra-point attempt to leave Bowdoin with a 6-0 edge at the end of the quarter.

After trading possession to open the second frame, Amherst threatened, taking the ball down inside the Bowdoin 20-yard line. However, the drive stalled on the Bowdoin 15, and Roemer's 32-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right to leave the Jeffs trailing. Bowdoin tacked on another score before the half as Leclerc found senior tight end Jared Pritchard (Marston Mills, MA) for a touchdown from two yards out for the 13-0 advantage.

The misfortune didn't stop for the Jeffs after halftime. After stalling a Bowdoin drive and forcing a punt, junior Justin Macione (Mansfield, MA) mishandled Leclerc's 36-yard boot, which was scooped up by Polar Bear senior Steve Curwen (Milford, CT) inside the Amherst 30-yard line. The Jeff defense didn't allow a yard on three straight plays, but sophomore kicker Nolan McNair (Oak Park, CA) blasted a 42-yard field goal to extend the Polar Bears lead to 16-0.

The Jeffs finally got on the board on the ensuing possession as they grinded out a 13-play, 67-yard drive capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kehoe to junior wideout Mark Hannon (Glen Rock, NJ). Amherst tried to cut the lead in half with a two-point conversion, but Kehoe's pass was batted down by Regan and the score stood 16-6 with just over 18 minutes left to play.

Amherst kept the heat on as junior kicker Mike Quirk (Upton, MA) floated a pooch kick up the left sideline that was mishandled by the Bowdoin return team and fallen on by Muecke at the Bowdoin 38-yard line. The Jeffs proceeded to march down to the Bowdoin goal line, but Kehoe's fourth-and-one lunge for the end zone was snatched away by Donahue and the Polar Bears preserved their lead.

The Amherst defense forced a quick three-and-out, getting the ball back on the Bowdoin 46-yard line with 11:46 left in regulation. Three straight rushes from senior tailback Ngai Otieno (Gloucester, MA) carried the Jeffs to paydirt as he took a pitch 37 yards for the score, cutting the lead to just 16-13.

Another solid defensive effort got the ball right back for Amherst, and the Jeffs bulled their way towards the end zone again. Senior running back Dom Cama (Miami Lakes, FL) picked up a first down on the ground, followed by another first-down effort on four straight Otieno carries. Amherst tried to convert its second consecutive fourth-and-one, but after picking up the first, Otieno was stripped by Curwen and Bowdoin junior Mike Vitousek (Kamuela, HI) fell on the loose ball.

After stuffing three consecutive Bowdoin runs, the Jeffs had one last chance, taking possession on their own 27 with 2:14 to go, but Bowdoin junior Zach Hammond (Hollison, MA) pulled down Kehoe on fourth-and-12 to secure the win.

Otieno and Cama each topped the 100-yard rushing mark as Otieno racked up 184 yards on 26 carries and Cama piled up 109 yards on 25 attempts. Kehoe finished 15-of-30 for 117 yards, while Hannon led the Jeff receivers with six grabs for 63 yards. Roemer, Muecke and junior safety Mike Salerno (Shrewsbury, MA) paced the Amherst defense with 10 tackles apiece. Spinnato and senior Joe Bickerstaffe (Millis, MA) posted six and five tackles, respectively, and sophomore safety Rob Grammer (Glen Rock, NJ) had a trio of pass breakups.

The Jeffs held Leclerc to just nine-of-28 passing for 94 yards and limited his favorite target, classmate Jeff Nolin (Dover, NH) to just two catches for 31 yards. Sophomore running back Jeff Smith (Needham, MA) grinded out 45 yards on 11 carries. Donahue racked up 17 tackles to go with his trio of takeaways, while senior co-captain Shaun Kezer (Mansfield, MA) tallied 16 takedowns and Regan and junior Brendan Murphy (Winthrop, MA) tallied 14 tackles apiece.

Amherst returns to action next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against visiting NESCAC foe Middlebury College.