Football Hosts Amherst in Showdown Between Two of NESCAC's Top Teams Saturday

The Jumbos face another stiff test in week seven of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) schedule today against the Amherst College Mammoths.

Junior Jack Dolan is two yards shy of 1,000 all-purpose yards for the season

Following a tight 23-16 loss to first-place Trinity College here two weeks ago, Tufts returned to the win column last week with a solid 21-13 victory at Williams College. Head coach Jay Civetti's Jumbos improved to 4-2 and sit tied with Williams and Wesleyan for fourth place in the conference. The Mammoths scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to come from behind for a 21-17 win over Wesleyan last week. Amherst is now 5-1, tied with Middlebury for second in NESCAC behind unbeaten Trinity.

The Jumbos are looking for a victory today to assure their third consecutive winning season. That hasn't happened since the 1988-91 teams recorded four straight winning records. Amherst, already with more wins than last year's 4-4 campaign, is in the conference championship hunt with challenges remaining against Tufts today, Trinity next week and Williams in the season-finale.

Jumbo junior quarterback Ryan McDonald passed for a career-high 336 yards at Williams, completing 25 of 40 passes. It was Tufts' highest total through the air since Jack Doll threw for 349 yards against Bowdoin on October 4, 2014. McDonald added 55 yards rushing at Williams to finish with 391 yards of total offense. He was NESCAC's Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. McDonald's 1,485 yards passing this season is the most by a Jumbo since Anthony Fucillo set the school record with 2,475 yards in 2010.

Junior Jack Dolan has been McDonald's favorite target this fall, and the two connected on a 59-yard touchdown to open the scoring last week. Dolan finished with five receptions for a career-high 119 yards. Junior Frank Roche, who returned from an injury to catch four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown against Trinity, had seven more catches for 66 yards last week.

Tufts freshman running back Mike Pedrini scored a touchdown for the third consecutive week at Williams, and sophomore Jay Tyler added a 26-yard score as the Jumbos gained 148 yards on the ground. Tufts' 484 total yards against the Ephs was their highest total of the season.

As expected entering the year, Tufts' pass rush has been outstanding. After sacking Trinity quarterback Sonny Puzzo six times, the Jumbos were all over Williams freshman QB Bobby Maimaron last week with four more sacks. Senior Micah Adickes had two and is tied for the NESCAC lead with 6.5 overall. Classmates Zach Thomas (five sacks) and Doug Harrison (four) have helped the Jumbos accumulate 25 sacks in six games, six more than any other team in the conference. Tufts is third in the nation with 4.17 sacks per game.

The Jumbo defense has also been among the nation's best on third down. They enter the week ranked 19th nationally in that category. Williams had decent success on third down last week (six for 15), but the Jumbos still have a strong 26.4 percentage. Overall, Tufts is fifth in the league for scoring defense (18.0) and sixth in yards allowed (337.8). Offensively, they rank fifth in scoring (26.2) and fourth in yardage (424.2).

Trailing Wesleyan 17-7 entering the fourth quarter last week, Amherst had a six-yard touchdown run by Jack Hickey at 13:15 of the period and then the game-winning score on a 51-yard run by Hasani Figueroa with 1:27 remaining. Sophomore QB Ollie Eberth also had a 13-yard touchdown run as the Mammoths gained 150 yards on 38 carries. Amherst is second in the league with 188.2 yards rushing per game, and Hickey ranks fourth individually at 434 yards.

An outstanding Amherst defense stifled a Wesleyan offense that has been one of the best in the league this year. The Mammoths held the Cardinals to 197 total yards as junior Andrew Yamin finished with 5.5 tackles for losses (1.5 sacks) among his 12 stops overall. Amherst leads NESCAC allowing just 234.7 yards per game and is second giving up just 16 points per contest. Yamin, NESCAC's Defensive Player of the Week, is tied with Adickes atop the NESCAC stat leaders with 6.5 sacks. Junior Andrew Sommer has also been a key contributor as the team leader in tackles (45).

Eberth takes the majority of the snaps for Amherst and is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in NESCAC. The Mammoths also use senior Reece Foy, their starter in 2015 who missed last year with an injury. Junior Bo Berluti (27 receptions-319 yards-1 TD) and sophomore James O'Regan (23-428-4) are a solid pair of receivers. Senior Elijah Zabludoff is a returning first team All-NESCAC selection on the offensive line.

McDonald rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown in Tufts' 27-10 win at Amherst last season. The victory was the first for the Jumbos over Amherst since 2007 and the first at Pratt Field by a Tufts team since 2004. Sophomore Greg Holt – who had seven tackles and an interception at Williams last week – made 15 tackles at Amherst last year (2.5 for losses). Yamin finished with 11 tackles for Amherst.

The Jumbos will hit the road for the final time next week up to Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Amherst hosts Trinity in their final home game.

TUFTS VS. AMHERST SERIES
Series Record: Amherst 54-28-4
First Game: 1877, Amherst 8-4
Last Tufts Win: 2016, 27-10
Last Amherst Win: 2015, 32-7
Current Streak: Tufts, 1 game
Large Margins: Tufts 42-7 in 1958; Amherst 49-0 in 1973

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