Hartford, Conn. – Senior co-captain OLB Spencer Donahue (Naperville, Ill.) totaled a game-high 11 tackles (nine solo) with 2.5 tackles for loss and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a sack, strip, fumble recovery and eight-yard return to paydirt on the first play of the fourth quarter, as the Trinity College Bantams clinched at least a share of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Football Championship title with a 24-14 victory over the visiting Amherst College Purple and White this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field. Trinity, ranked No. 3 in New England, improves to 7-0 and remains alone first place in the NESCAC with just next week's season finale at Wesleyan. Amherst drops to 3-4 with its third consecutive setback. Wesleyan, Middlebury, and Tufts are all a game behind Trinity at 6-1, and Middlebury and Tufts play each other in Vermont next Saturday. Amherst hosts winless Williams in its last game next weekend.
Watch Spencer Donahue's iconic go-ahead touchdown play
Trailing, 14-3, with 3:13 left in the third quarter after a three-yard touchdown pass from sophomore QB Nick Morales (Seattle, Wash.) to classmate Bo Berluti (Westwood, Mass.), the Bantams scored the game's final 21 points including two touchdowns in a span of 22 seconds to steal their first victory over the Purple and White since 2012. Trinity answered the Amherst score with a nine-play, 68-yard drive that included 20-yard pass plays from junior QB Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) to senior wide outs Nick Gaynor (West Hartford, Conn.) and Darrien Myers (North Andover, Mass.) and finished with a four-yard scoring toss to Myers for the first Bantam touchdown of the afternoon. On the first play of the ensuing Purple and White possession, Donahue hit Morales from behind for a sack and the ball popped loose. Donahue got up quickly, found the ball at the eight-yard line, grabbed it and sprinted into the end zone for a 17-14 Bantam lead eight seconds into the final quarter. Trinity nearly put more points on the board, advancing to Amherst 11-yard line inside the five-minute mark, but three penalties in a row pushed the Bantams out of field goal range. Trinity senior co-captain DB Paul McCarthy (North Attleboro, Mass.) picked off Morales twice in the final minute, returning the first interception 48 yards for an insurance touchdown.
In the first half, Amherst thwarted a game-opening drive by the Bantams when senior DB Derek Ward (Griswold, Conn.) forced a fumble by Trinity sophomore RB Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.) and the ball was recovered by Amherst sophomore DB Nate Tyrell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) at his own 14-yard line. After seven-straight punts by the two squads, Trinity sophomore Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.) stayed perfect for the year with a 39-yard field goal to open the scoring 3:17 into the second stanza. The Purple and White put together a nine-play, 71-yard drive for the game's first touchdown, as Morales found senior captain WR Devin Boehm (Wilmette, Ill.) for an eight-yard score in traffic in the middle of the field midway through the second quarter. Amherst sophomore DB Zach Allen (Aloha, Oregon) intercepted Puzzo twice and Lord Jeff sophomore Andrew Ferrero (San Francisco, Calif.) missed a 35-yard field goal over the final six minutes of the first half, and Amherst led, 7-3, at the break.
Trinity outgained Amherst, 337 to 217, and overcame 10 penalties. Puzzo finished 22-for-33 for 194 yards through the air, while Morales and two other Amherst quarterbacks were 16-for-35 for 104 yards. Chipouras ran for a game-high 102 yards on 19 carries, while senior Nick Kelly (Westport, Conn.) and sophomore Jack Hickey (Melrose, Mass.) combined for 116 yards on 26 carries for Amherst. Myers tied a Trinity receiving record with 15 grabs, tying a record held by both Don Fronzaglia and Tom McDavitt, and totaled 112 receiving yards. Boehm paced the visitors with 47 receiving yards on six catches. Sachse's field goal and three PAT's makes him 12-for-12 on field goals and 31-for-31 kicking extra points this fall. Trinity junior ILB's Carty Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Liam Kenneally (Reading, Mass.) each had eight tackles, while Kenneally also broke up two passes, and McCarthy made six stops in addition to his two picks. Senior OLB Parker Chapman (St. Paul, Minn.) led the Amherst defense with nine tackles, while sophomore OLB Andrew Yamin (Cheshire, Conn.) added eight tackles, three tackles for loss, and a sack.
Listen to Coach Jeff Devanney's recap on TSN
read the Hartford Courant story on the game