Trinity Football Holds Off Tufts 36-28 Giving Jumbos 1st Loss of 2016

Recap courtesy of Trinity College

HARTFORD, CONN. – Junior QB Sonny Puzzo totaled 332 yards of total offense with two touchdown passes and sophomore Eric Sachse set a school record with five field goals to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 36-28 win against the visiting Tufts University Jumbos in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field.

Nik Dean's 62-yard TD and 2-point conversion pulled Tufts within a score late in the game

Trinity improves to 4-0 and stays even with Middlebury in first place in the NESCAC with its ninth-straight win over the Jumbos.  Tufts, which trailed 36-13 before scoring 15 points in 14 seconds in the final two minutes, drops to 3-1.

The visiting Jumbos got on the board first, scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run by senior tri-captain RB Chance Brady after a short Bantam punt gave them the ball at the Trinity 35-yard line.  The Jumbos committed a holding penalty on the PAT and senior Willie Holmquist missed the longer try.

Trinity answered with its first scoring drive, as Sachse drilled a 28-yard field goal cutting the Jumbo lead to 6-3 with 3:15 left in the first quarter.

The hosts would explode for 27 points in the second quarter. Puzzo completed a 22-yard pass to junior WR Bryan Vieira, a 14-yarder to senior WR Nick Gaynor, and a 17-yard scoring strike to Vieira on the next Trinity drive to give the home team a 10-6 lead in the opening seconds of the second.  Sachse added field goals of 34 and 20 yards to put Trinity ahead, 16-6, with 6:13 left in the second quarter. 

Trinity senior CB Archi Jerome intercepted a Tufts pass, and Puzzo found Vieira for a 24-yard pass and sophomore Max Chipouras swinging out of the backfield in the right flat for a 19-yard touchdown toss with 2:28 on the clock.

On the next Jumbo play from scrimmage, sophomore QB Ryan McDonald eluded Trinity pressure and heaved the ball downfield to wide-open junior WR Mike Miller for a 67-yard touchdown pass.  Moments later, Holmquist appeared to recover his own onside kick, but a Tufts offsides penalty was called, and Trinity senior Adam Hahn handled Holmquist's next attempt at the same thing.  Trinity took advantage, as Puzzo connected with sophomore WR John Spears for a 32-yard pass on third and 10 to the Jumbo seven-yard line, and Chipouras scampered into the end zone on the next play for a 30-13 Trinity lead at the break.

After a scoreless third quarter, Sachse tied the Trinity single-game field goal mark with a 25-yarder 1:58 into the fourth frame, after first-year Ian McDonald had kept the drive alive with a 33-yard pass to senior co-captain Paul McCarthy on a fake punt.

Tufts threatened with a drive that pushed into Trinity territory, but Bantam sophomores Dago Picon-Roura and Corey Jean-Jacques stopped Brady for a one-yard loss on fourth and one.  Sachse broke the Bantam field goal mark with a 20-yard boot with 2:32 left in the game, giving Trinity a 36-13 lead.

Tufts inserted senior QB Alex Snyder into the game and he needed just three plays to get the Jumbos into the end zone.  Snyder completed a 39-yard pass to sophomore Dan de Leon and a 27-yarder to senior TE Nik Dean at the Bantam two-yard line, before Brady scored Tufts' third touchdown closing the guests to within 36-20.

Holmquist tried his third onside kick of the afternoon and bounced it off a Bantam before pouncing on it to give the visitors the ball at their own 38-yard line with 1:31 on the clock.  Snyder connected with Dean for both a 62-yard scoring pass and a two-point conversion pass to pull Tufts to within one score at 36-28 just six seconds later.

McCarthy handled Holmquist's final onside kick and Puzzo sealed the win with a 19-yard pass to senior WR Darrien Myers on third and six that allowed the Bantams to run out the clock.

Trinity finished with 492 yards of total offense, including 302 in the first half, and possessed the ball for 34:37.  The Jumbos finished with 347 total yards offensively, and the teams combined for 178 yards in penalties.

Puzzo was 20 for 30 for 273 yards passing and added 59 yards on the ground, while Chipouras rushed 27 times for a game-high 98 yards. Vieira led Trinity pass catchers with four grabs for 78 yards.

McDonald was 6 for 19 for 103 yards and Snyder was 3 for 3 for 128 yards through the air, while Brady had 94 rushing yards on 27 carries, and Dean caught two passes for 89 yards.

Trinity sophomore LB Sean Smerczynski made a team-high 11 tackles and added three tackles for losses and a pair of sacks, while senior co-captain Spencer Donahue totaled eight tackles.

Freshman LB Greg Holt led all tacklers with 16 hits, while senior LB Mike Stearns had 14 tackles, and junior LB Steve DiCienzo notched 11 tackles, three for losses, and a pass break-up for Tufts.