Football Drops Defensive Battle with Amherst

Matthew Benedict earned a career and game-high 20 tackles in the game.
Matthew Benedict earned a career and game-high 20 tackles in the game.

Amherst running back Nick Kelly rushed for 141 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown run, to lead the Lord Jeffs to a 7-0 road win at Middlebury. The shutout is the first suffered by the Panthers in 69 games, dating back to a 14-0 setback at the hands of Trinity in 2005. The game was played with constant rain, driving at times, on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium.

Amherst's longest drive of the day came on its opening possession, as it moved the ball 60 yards on 11 plays. The drive ended when a 23-yard field goal attempt from Phillip Nwosu sailed wide left.

Middlebury junior Dan Pierce (Needham, Mass.) intercepted Alex Berluti later in the quarter at the Panther 34, but Middlebury went three-and-out and was forced to punt. Neither team threatened in the second quarter, leaving the game scoreless at the half.

A 28-yard kick-off return by Kelly gave Amherst the ball at its own 41 to start the second half. Following an incomplete pass, Kelly took a handoff and cut down the left sideline headed toward the end zone. His final block came at the 10-yard line as quarterback Reece Foy cut off a Panther defender to allow Kelly to find pay dirt.

Two series later, Middlebury moved the ball downfield, aided by an Amherst penalty that moved the ball to the Jeffs' 27-yard line. The Panthers could not take advantage and ended up turning the ball over on downs.

Pierce earned his second interception of the game on Amherst's ensuing possession, but the Panthers went three-and-out and were forced to punt.

Middlebury was looking to get on the board midway through the fourth quarter when a booming 58-yard punt by Jackson McGonagle left them the ball on its own five-yard line with 7:31 remaining.

Three plays later, the Panthers punted the ball away, but the defense held, allowing them one more chance, starting from their own 26 with 4:16 left on the clock. A pair of complete passes by junior Matt Milano (New Canaan, Conn.) moved the ball to the Middlebury 45, but Thomas Kleyn broke-up a pass attempt to junior Matthew Minno (Tallahassee, Fla.) on fourth-and-two to preserve the Amherst win.

Amherst outgained Middlebury 357-129 on the day, including a 252-62 edge on the ground. Though both teams rarely threatened to score, the Jeffs held a 37:22 to 22:38 lead in time of possession. The teams combined to punt the ball 26 times in the game, as 151 plays were run in the contest. Field position was a big key in the contest, as Amherst averaged a start at its own 37, while Middlebury's average start was its own 23.

Milano finished the day 9-31 for 67 yards, while rookie John Jackson (Hood River, Ore.) rushed for 37 yards on a dozen carries. Sophomore Grant Luna (San Pedro, Calif.) caught three passes for 10 yards on the afternoon, while senior Brendan Rankowitz (Westport, Conn.) had three receptions for 25 yards. Senior Matthew Benedict (Eden, N.Y.) was all over the field with 20 tackles on the afternoon, including two for lost yardage, a sack and a pass break-up. Junior Tim Patricia (Los Angeles, Calif.) finished with 14 stops, Pierce had 13 with a pair of interceptions, while sophomore Addison Pierce (Greenfield, Conn.) earned 11 tackles.

Berluti went 5-11 for 31 yards with an interception, while Foy was 7-11 for 74 yards with a pick. Kelly's 141 yards with a touchdown led all rushers, while Kenny Adinkra gained 48 yards on 11 touches. Gene Garay led the receivers with four catches for 28 yards. Ned Deane's eight tackles led Amherst, while Thomas Kleyn earned seven. Chris Tamasi finished with seven stops, three for lost yardage, while Paul Johnson recorded 2.5 sacks.

• Football record: 1-2
• Up next: 10/11 @ Williams – 2:00