Football team opens season with stout performance vs. Amherst
Graham Raymond ’08
Ross Van Horn ’08
Brandon Colon ’08
Matt Lopez ’08
Todd Wilcox ’08
LEWISTON, Maine — A stout effort by Bates College’s defense couldn’t offset a consistently strong Amherst attack as the Bobcats fell 24-0 in their 2007 season opener Saturday at Garcelon Field.
Amherst, currently ranked ninth among New England Division III teams, took a 21-0 lead by halftime and controlled the clock for much of the game with a methodical, run-oriented offense. The Lord Jeffs (1-0) outgained Bates 302-131 overall, held a significant edge in time of possession (38:13 to 21:47) and benefited from four turnovers, including three recovered Bates fumbles.
Amherst sophomore Aaron Rauh ran for three short-yardage touchdowns in the first half and contributed 46 yards on 16 carries, as the Lord Jeffs (1-0) churned out a 170-25 advantage in rushing yards for the game. Eric NeSmith led Amherst with 85 yards on 17 carries, and Anthony Fuller added 45 yards on 11 carries.
Matt Eberhart nailed a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring for Amherst.
Amherst quarterback Lucas Loeffler completed 13 of 23 passes for 132 yards, one interception and no touchdowns.
Bates quarterback Brandon Colon (Manchester, N.H.) completed 12 of 24 passes to five different receivers for 106 yards with one interception. Senior tight end Ross Van Horn (Highland Park, N.J.) hauled in four passes for 53 yards.
Amherst scored on its first drive, starting in good field position at its own 42. The Bobcats had the Lord Jeffs in a 4th and 4 situation at the Bates 28, but there Amherst turned in the biggest play from scrimmage of the day when Loeffler hit Chris Gillyard over the middle. Gillyard found running room along the left sideline until he was dragged down by junior Corey Pattison (Dedham, Maine) just a yard shy of the goal line. Rauh plunged into the end zone two plays later and Eberhart, who was a perfect 3-for-3 on his extra-point attempts, made it 7-0.
Bates advanced the ball to midfield and junior Chris Hertz’s (East Burke, Vt.) 43-yard punt pinned Amherst at its own 1 for its next drive. Amherst only made it out to the 12 before punting, but Keith Erzinger’s 53-yard punt was mishandled on a bounce by senior Kevin Reyes (North Andover, Mass.), and Amherst’s Chris Mottau recovered the ball at the Bates 30. A pair of passes from Loeffler to receiver Andre Gary covered 24 yards as Amherst marched into the end zone again for a 14-0 lead with 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Lord Jeffs amassed their longest drive of the game — 15 plays for 77 yards — midway through the second quarter, starting with five straight rushes for 20 yards by NeSmith. On 3rd and 11 at the Bates 18, Amherst again came through as Loeffler connected with Brandon Bullock for 15 yards, giving the Jeffs first down and goal at the 3 to set up Rauh’s third score.
A lost fumble by Colon ended Bates’ next drive, but the Bobcats quickly got the ball back. Senior Anthony Begon (Peabody, Mass.) grabbed a hold of Loeffler’s arm as he released a pass, and after sophomore Bill Arria (Norwell, Mass.) tipped the ball, senior Todd Wilcox (Brentwood, N.H.) dived to catch the interception just before the ball hit the ground. With only 10 seconds in the half, the Bobcats ran out the clock.
Bates’ defense was solid throughout the second half, forcing Amherst to punt on six out of seven possessions. But any momentum the Bobcats were summoning seemed to be dashed by a play late in the third quarter. Colon dumped a pass over the Amherst rush to junior Shawki White (Danville, Ill.), who advanced the ball 14 yards into Amherst territory. white lunged for an extra yard or two at the end of the play and the ball came loose. Eric Pender was there to scoop up the ball and return it the other way for 15 yards, and though Bates fans complained that White was already down and no fumble should have been called, it was to no avail, and Amherst had the ball at the Bates 40.
Amherst advanced the ball another 16 yards to the Bates 24 where the drive stalled. But Eberhart hit the 41-yard field goal with plenty of distance to spare, registering the Lord Jeffs’ only score of the half and padding the lead to 24-0.
Senior linebacker Graham Raymond (Westfield, Mass.) made a team- and career-high 15 tackles for Bates, including two for a loss, 0.5 sacks and a quarterback hurry. Senior Matt Lopez (Lexington, Mass.) made a career-high 1.5 sacks, and seniors Ron DiGravio (Farmington, Maine), Wilcox and Reyes came up with nine, eight and eight tackles, respectively. Making his first career start at safety, sophomore Kyle McAllister (Exeter, N.H.) made six tackles and broke up two passes.
Bates (0-1) will host Tufts University (1-0), which opened with a 24-7 victory at Hamilton, next Saturday at 1 p.m.