The Tufts University football team (1-1) is headed to Bates College in Maine on Saturday to take on the Bobcats (0-2) in week three of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season.
Both teams are coming off a loss from last week. The Jumbos were away at Wesleyan where they played their second overtime game in as many weeks this season, falling 24-17. Bates' loss came at the hands of Trinity College in a 51-0 final.
|Senior offensive tackle Liam Thau helped the Jumbos rush for 211 yards at Wesleyan|
Tufts entered the fourth quarter versus Wesleyan with a 10-3 lead. Early in the quarter Jumbo junior Jack Dolan returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown to stretch the lead to 17-3. It was the first Jumbo punt return for a touchdown since Zack Trouse brought one back 49 yards for a touchdown in Tufts' 42-24 win over Bates on September 27, 2014. It was also the longest Jumbo punt return for a touchdown since Donovan Brown had an 89-yard return for a score in 2002. Dolan is currently third in NESCAC with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, gaining 114 for both receiving and punt returns, and 108 on kickoff returns for a 343 total thus far.
However, on the next drive Cardinal quarterback Mark Piccirillo led the team 69-yards resulting in a three-yard touchdown pass to pull Wesleyan within seven (17-10). Tufts was forced to punt on their next two drives which led to Wesleyan's second long drive of the quarter. This time going for 80 yards, the Cardinals scored with just six seconds left on the clock on a 24-yard pass from Piccirillo to Eric Meyreles. The fourth quarter ended tied at 17.
Overtime started and Wesleyan got the ball first. They scored on the second play of their possession on a 14-yard pass play. The Jumbos then had their turn, but on third and eight quarterback Ryan McDonald's pass was intercepted which ended the game.
The Jumbos were led by McDonald who picked up 155 yards in the air and 122 on the ground, totaling 277 yards of offense. He's averaging 318 yards of total offense in the team's first two games, including 359 in last week's overtime victory against Hamilton College (35-28). McDonald is second among the conference's rushing leaders with 214 yards through two weeks. Against Wesleyan, he ran for a 35-yard touchdown at 8:27 of the first quarter to put Tufts up 7-0.
Tufts rushed for 211 yards overall as junior Dominic Borelli added 98 yards on 25 carries for the Jumbos. Freshman Matthew Alswanger converted the first field goal of his collegiate career with a 23-yarder in the second quarter putting Tufts up 10-0. Senior WR Joe Nault averaged 20.7 yards per catch as he reeled in three receptions for 62 yards.
The Jumbo defense was led by sophomore linebacker Greg Holt who had 15 tackles and half a sack while also recovering a fumble. Steve DiCienzo added nine more tackles and a half sack of his own while also getting the first interception of his Jumbo career. The Tufts defense ended the day with four total sacks as Zach Thomas, Micah Adickes, and Doug Harrison picked up one each. They now have eight total in the two games. With three sacks already this season, Adickes ranks second in NESCAC.
Bates will be looking to rebound in front of its home fans after the loss to Trinity (2-0) in Lewiston last Saturday. After the first quarter the Bantams held a 31-0 lead and it didn't get any better for the Bobcats from there. On the back of 423 yards of total offense and five passing touchdowns, Trinity put Bates away 51-0. The Bobcats almost got on the board on their longest drive of the day in the fourth quarter, but were stopped on Trinity's one-yard line.
Bates picked up 129 of their 174 total yards on the ground. Peter Boyer and Kyle Flaherty had the majority of those, combining for 91. Coy Candelario led the way with 12 tackles while three different players picked up a sack.
Last time these two teams played each other was last October at Tufts when the Jumbos picked up a 12-7 victory. The Bobcats were up 7-6 heading into the fourth quarter. The go-ahead touchdown drive started on Tufts' own 37. The Jumbos drove the ball down the field on nine straight runs by McDonald and running back Chance Brady. McDonald put Tufts ahead for good on a 15-yard run. They went for a 2-point conversion to get the lead to seven, but the try was unsuccessful. The Jumbos closed the game out by forcing the Bobcats to punt once and go for it twice on fourth down, both of which attempts failed.
Tufts had kicked two field goals in the second quarter to go into the half with a 6-0 lead. The only score in the third was when Bates' quarterback Sandy Plashkes connected with Brain Daly for a 30-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 7-6, where it remained until the fourth quarter. The Jumbo victory marked the second straight year that Tufts came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat Bates.
Brady ran for 140 yards in the match-up and McDonald added 75 more on the ground. The Bobcats were led by Mickoy Nichol and Peter Boyer's 96 rushing yards. Both teams combined for only 468 yards of offense as the defenses controlled the day. The Jumbos were led on defense by Holt and DiCienzo, who had 20 and 17 tackles respectively. Thomas added a sack. Mark Upton had 17 tackles for Bates along with a sack. James Hussey, Trevor Lyons, and Jack Maritz combined with Upton for three total sacks.
The Jumbos will return home next weekend to face Bowdoin on Homecoming Day in Somerville. Bates will travel to Williams.
TUFTS VS. BATES SERIES
Series Record: 60-17-3 Tufts
First Game: 1875, Tufts 1-0
Last Tufts Win: 2016, 12-7
Last Bates Win: 2013, 20-16
Current Streak: Tufts, 3 games
Large Margins: Tufts 61-7 in 1914; Bates 23-0 in 1904
Written by Curtis Stoychoff, Athletic Communications Intern