Football stumbles 20-7 to Amherst

Co-captain Richie Beaton ’14 scored the men’s only touchdown in the 20-7 loss to Amherst on Saturday afternoon. - Photo Courtesy of Richie Beaton
Co-captain Richie Beaton ’14 scored the men’s only touchdown in the 20-7 loss to Amherst on Saturday afternoon. – Photo Courtesy of Richie Beaton

Football (2-6) dropped its third straight game, losing to Amherst 20-7 in last Saturday’s Homecoming game. With the loss, the men fell to 2-6, closing the season eighth in the NESCAC standings. Amherst, however, finished in a three-way tie for first place with Wesleyan and Middlebury.

Last Saturday, Amherst kept the men from generating much on offense. The lackluster first quarter was characterized by three-and-outs by both teams. The lone highlight of the quarter came on an Amherst interception of starting quarterback Mark Pomella ’16. The Jeffs, however, were unable to capitalize on this turnover, and both defenses held strong, keeping the quarter scoreless.

The second quarter proved to be fatal for the Ephs, as they allowed the Jeffs to create an insurmountable 14-point lead. The first touchdown came about after a fake punt kept an Amherst drive alive. On fourth and three, Amherst faked the punt and rushed for 17 yards for a first down. Four plays later, Amherst’s Nick Kelly rushed three yards for the touchdown, and Amherst went up 7-0 with 8:33 to play in the half. The second score came with just 41 seconds left in the second quarter after a solid 68-yard drive. On third and goal from the Ephs’ six-yard line, Jeff quarterback Max Lippe completed a pass to wide receiver Brian Ragone to put his team up 14-0 heading to halftime.

The third quarter provided a glimmer of hope for the men in the second drive of the half. Pomella found co-captain Richie Beaton ’14 wide-open for a 76-yard touchdown. This score reduced the deficit to 14-7, but the men did not score again in the game. Amherst answered the long touchdown with a field goal on the very next possession, increasing its lead to 17-7 with just over six minutes on the clock in the third. The Jeffs went on to block an Eph punt, but their drive ended on downs after a huge fourth down tackle from James Howe ’16. On the ensuing drive, Joe Mallock ’14 just missed on a 46-yard field goal attempt that would have brought the men back to within one score. Two Amherst interceptions quelled the men’s offense in the closing stages of the game, and Amherst closed the scoring with a 33-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 20-7. The men’s final possession was promising until Adam Marske ’14, who came on at quarterback in the fourth, fumbled on the Amherst six-yard line, ending any hope of a comeback. Amherst then simply ran out the clock to end the game.

Pomella made his second consecutive start at quarterback; he finished 12-20 for 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Marske also got time behind center, finishing 7-13 for 50 yards and one interception. The running attack struggled, averaging just three yards per carry. Marco Hernandez ’14 led the team with 31 yards on five carries.

“[Pomella] stepped up to the challenge as a young quarterback and did his best to give us the chance to win,” said Beaton. “As an offense we had several mistakes, but the positive attitude and leadership from the seniors allowed us to fight until the very end.”

The defense held Amherst to 20 points despite being put in some tough spots by four offensive turnovers. However, they were unable to put much pressure on the quarterback and again could not force any turnovers. The Amherst run game also exploited them, amassing over 200 yards on the ground. The defense benefited from another strong performance by Howe, who finished with eight tackles, including one sack and two tackles for loss. He now has 10 sacks on the season, which leads the NECAC. In addition, co-captain Nate Saffold ’14 broke up three passes and made four tackles.

With the loss on Saturday, the men conclude their season and will graduate 18 seniors, including co-captains Ernest Higginbotham ’14, Alex Scyocurka ’14, Beaton and Saffold.