Trinity Football Needs Win At Amherst Saturday To Keep NESCAC Title Hopes Alive

Preston Kelly '16
Preston Kelly '16

Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College football team, which lost for the first time in 15 games, 27-24, at Middlebury on Saturday to drop to 5-1 this fall, will hit the road again this weekend at Amherst College on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. The Bantams, coached by Jeff Devanney (8th Season, 54-8) are in a three-way tie with the Lord Jeffs and Middlebury for second place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with the season finale coming up at home on November 9 against the first-place Wesleyan University Cardinals (6-0).  Trinity trails the all-time series against Amherst, 56-43-9, but owns a 9-4 record against them this millennium.  Today's game will be the first between the teams since 2007 that sees both teams with a loss on its record entering the contest, although both the 2012 NESCAC Champion Bantams and the 2011 NESCAC Champion Lord Jeffs are hopeful of winning or sharing the league title this fall.  In last year's game in Hartford, current Bantam senior captain RB Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns and senior CB Akeem Labitue (Dorchester, Mass.) had a team-high 11 tackles in a 32-20 Trinity victory.  Amherst, is ranked No. 5 in New England, while the Bantams fell from the top spot to No. 6 after their first loss in two years.

At Middlebury, Trinity lost for the first time since a 35-28 setback at Amherst in 2011 as first-year QB Sonny Puzzo’s (West Caldwell, N.J.) pass into the end zone on the game’s last play was intercepted.  An early pick by Bantam senior S Brendan Bader (Brookfield, Conn.) led to a four-yard touchdown run by Bantam senior RB Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.), and an interception by junior S Casey Tanner (Wellesley, Mass.) put Trinity in position for a career-long 37-yard field goal by freshman Ben Rosenblatt (Newton Center, Mass.).  Crick added a 15-yard scoring scamper to give Trinity a 17-14 lead at halftime.  Puzzo tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to junior WR Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.) in the fourth quarter, but Middlebury scored the game-winning touchdown late in the final stanza.  Puzzo finished 20-33 for 229 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while rushing 18 times for 58 yards. Crick led the ground game with a pair of touchdown on 14 carries for 62 yards, while Bunker caught five passes for 47 yards while gaining 28 on the ground, and Ragone made three receptions for 100 yards. Junior S Mike Mancini (Rocky Hill, Conn.) led the defense with seven tackles, while junior DE Nathan Cyr (Kingston, N.H.) made six with 1.5 for lost yardage.

Trinity leads the NESCAC in pass efficiency defense with an 89.4 opponent efficiency rating (11th in nation), and ranks second in scoring offense (33.8 ppg), pass defense (166.3 ypg), pass efficiency (142.6 rating, and turnover margin (+1.50, 14th in nation).  Bunker and Crick are second and sixth, respectively, in the conference in rushing with 94.0 and 69.4 yards per game, while Puzzo and sophomore QB Henry Foye (Madison, Conn.) rank 2-3 in the league in pass efficiency at 147.9 and 138.0, respectively, having completed 95 of 156 attempts for 1,199 yards for 13 touchdowns and six interceptions between them under center. Ragone is sixth in the league with 353 receiving yards on 18 catches, while senior WR A.J. Jones (Upper Darby, Pa.) adds 14 catches for 194 yards, and the pair has seven touchdown receptions between them.  Junior CB Brian Dones (Philadelphia, Pa.) is one of six NESCAC defenders at the top of the conference with three interceptions this fall and adds a team-high six pass breakups, while Cyr is tied for fourth among league pass rushers with four sacks.  Mancini, senior OLB Michael Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.), and senior LB Tom Haverty (Marion, Mass.) have combined for 115 tackles, and Weatherby adds a team-high 7.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) is the second-leading punter in the NESCAC with a 39.2 average per attempt and rookie Darrien Myers (North Andover, Mass.) is tied for the league lead in kickoff return average with 24.6 yards per attempt.

The Amherst football squad, under the direction of Head Coach E.J. Mills (17th season), won at Tufts on Saturday after suffering a 20-14 home loss against Wesleyan two weeks ago.  Junior QB Max Lippe has completed 108 passes in 185 attempts for 1,107 yards and eight touchdowns with seven interceptions, while senior Jake O’Malley and junior Gene Garay have combined for 59 catches and 667 receiving yards.  Sophomore Kenny Adrinka is the team’s top rusher with 330 yards.  Amherst has the top-ranked rushing defense in the league (75.3 ypg), while both sophomore Chris Gow and senior Landrus Lewis have intercepted three passes.  Junior DL Max Lehrman is second in the league with six sacks, and classmate Ned Deane adds 49 tackles and four sacks from his linebacker spot.

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