Somerville, Mass. - Junior RB Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.) rushed 29 time for 165 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter to lead the visiting Trinity College Bantams to a 23-16 victory over the Tufts University Jumbos in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Zimman Field. The Bantams, ranked No. 3 in New England, win for the 14th-straight time and move into sole possession of first place in the NESCAC at 5-0. Tufts drops to 3-22.
The first quarter was a defensive showdown, as both teams had the ball three times but were unable to generate much offense. The Jumbos put points on the board on their first possession of the second quarter, as junior QB Ryan McDonald connected with junior Frank Roche for a 39-yard touchdown pass to give the Jumbos the 7-0 advantage. The Bantams looked like they were going to get something going when senior tri-captain QB Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) found rookie WR Sean Kennedy (Hartford, Conn.) for a 40-yard gain, but the Jumbo defense held. Later in the second stanza, Puzzo's 24-yard pass to sophomore WR Koby Schofer (Northbridge, Mass.) resulted in the first Bantam touchdown of the day, and the game was tied, 7-7. With less than a minute remaining in the half, Puzzo brought his team down to the Tufts' 19-yard line with six seconds left on the clock, but Tufts junior Nmesoma Nwafor blocked Sachse's 36-yard field goal attempt to keep the score locked at 7-7 heading into the half.
To open the third quarter the Jumbos started to drive down the field, but McDonald was intercepted by Bantam senior S John Medina (Pinecrest, Fla.) to set Trinity up for a field goal. Trinity junior Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.) missed the 35-yard attempt, however, and McDonald connected twice with junior Dan de Leon (Valley Center, Calif.) twice for 42 yards to push the Jumbos to the Trinity 29-yard line. Trinity senior CB Dominique Seagears (Baltimore, Md.) seized the momentum and the lead with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, but the celebration was short-lived due to a two-point defensive PAT by Tufts' junior Tim Preston after Sachse's try was blocked and the Bantams led, 13-9, with a little over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Bantams added three more points just before the end of the third on a 40-yard field goal by Sachse to put Trinity up 16-9, but Tufts freshman Mike Pedrini answered with a 14-yard touchdown run to knot the score at 16-apiece with just under 13 minutes left in the game. Trinity marched down the field for 67 yards in 12 plays, 44 of them courtesy of Chipouras rushes, finishing with Chipouras' one-yard scoring plunge that accounted for the 23-16 final count. The Trinity defense held Tufts to just a single first down the rest of the way.
Puzzo finished 18-for-31 passing for 200 yards and and Schofer caught 10 passes for 86 yards. Junior OLB Dago Picon-Roura (Roslindale, Mass.) led the Bantams with 10 tackles, while senior ILB's Carty Campbell (Stamford, Conn.) and Liam Kenneally (Reading, Mass.) each finished with eight tackles and a sack, junior S Sameir Madden (Norristown, Pa.) had a third Trinity interception. McDonald was 20-for-36 passing for 267 yards and Pedrini led the Jumbo rushers with 14 carries for 70 yards. Roche finished the day with four catches for 98-yards and a touchdown. Senior Brett Phillips finished with 11 Tufts tackles.