The Jumbos celebrate Seniors Day on Saturday afternoon in their final game of the 2019 season against Middlebury College. Kickoff is at 12:30 pm at Ellis Oval / Zimman Field.
|Defensive lineman Conor Chepenik is among the seniors playing in their final game for the Jumbos on Saturday.|
Fourteen players from the Class of 2019-20, two who returned to the team for an extra year of eligibility and four managers who have contributed to the success of the Jumbo program will take Ellis Oval / Zimman Field for the last time on Saturday.
Recognized tomorrow will be players Tom Baker, Winton Blount, Jacob Carroll, Conor Chepenik, Jack Donohue, Greg Holt, Robert Jones, Kevin Quisumbing, Andrew Sanders, Tylor Scales, Miles Shipp, Stephen Timmins and Jay Tyler. Class member Mark Mastrog did not play due to injury. Dom Borelli and Frank Roche, members of the Class of 2018, returned to the Jumbos for an extra year of eligibility. Ben Cooper, Todd Humphrey, Justin Sholly and Kuba Witczak have worked behind the scenes as managers to help keep the Jumbo operation running smoothly. Tufts thanks our seniors for their commitment to the program!
The team has an opportunity to send their seniors off with another winning season on Saturday. The Jumbos enter with a 4-4 record following last week's 35-10 victory at Colby College. However, an undefeated Middlebury College team which has already clinched a share of the NESCAC title stands in the way.
The Jumbos finished their road schedule with a record-setting day at Colby last Saturday. Roche, junior kicker Matt Alswanger and freshman return man Tyler Johnson all etched themselves into the 145-year old Jumbo record book during the day as Tufts won its sixth straight in the series against the Mules.
Roche became Tufts' single-season receiving yards leader with eight catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 886 yards through eight games, which eclipses the previous record of 855 yards by Jon Troy in 1999. Roche is 114 yards shy of the first 1,000-yard receiving season in Tufts history. He has had three scoring receptions – which ties a Tufts mark held by many – two weeks in a row.
With five extra points at Colby, Alswanger became the team's new career leader in the category with 81. He surpassed the previous record of 79 held by Chris Wild (1988-91). Already in the record book with his single-season mark of 31 extra points last season, Alswanger has made 23 of his 24 point-afters this fall.
To longtime Jumbo fans, Johnson brought back memories of Daryl "Moon" Brown with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Colby. It was the first 100-yard return by a Jumbo since Brown – an electric return man who brought three kicks back in 1976 – did it 43 years ago. Johnson's kickoff return score was the first by the Jumbos since 2015 and earned him NESCSAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Junior co-captain Mike Pedrini rushed 16 times for 101 yards at Colby and opened the scoring with a one-yard TD run. Tufts had 464 total yards with senior quarterback Jacob Carroll completing 14 of 19 passes for 236 yards and 3 TDs. Defensively the Jumbos held the Mules to 247 yards including just 42 on the ground. Junior Michael Mughetto had his third interception of the year and second in as many weeks.
The Middlebury Panthers are playing for their third-ever perfect season tomorrow. They improved to 8-0 with a 14-7 victory at home against Hamilton College last week. All of the points were scored in the first quarter, including touchdown runs of two and 16 yards by Panther freshman Alex Maldjian.
Middlebury features the NESCAC's second-best offense averaging 30.5 points and 402.8 yards per game. Maldjian is the league's leading rusher with 769 yards and nine touchdowns. He went for 145 yards and the two scores on 35 totes last week. The Panther passing game is led by junior QB Will Jernigan, who has thrown for 1,726 yards and 14 touchdowns. Senior Maxwell Rye with 30 catches for 534 yards and four touchdowns has been the top target.
On defense the Panthers allow 19.3 points per game, fourth in NESCAC. They are paced by junior linebacker Jack Pistorius with 65 tackles (fourth in the league). His 5.5 sacks are tied with Tufts' Nenadovic for second in the conference, while junior Pete Huggins has four sacks to go with a team-best 11 tackles for losses. Panther senior Michael Carr is one of three players in NESCSAC with four interceptions.
The Jumbos have won three out of the last four in the series between the teams, including 35-13 last year. Borelli caught two of the five touchdown passes thrown by Tufts QB Ryan McDonald that day and finished with 121 yards on 12 receptions.
Tufts is playing for its fifth straight winning season, which would be the most since the program ran off six straight from 1978-83.
TUFTS VS. MIDDLEBURY SERIES
Series Record: Middlebury 31-30
First Game: 1915, Tufts 34-0
Last Tufts Win: 2018, 35-13
Last Middlebury Win: 2017, 35-24
Current Streak: Tufts, 1 game
Large Margins: Tufts 47-6 in 1953; Middlebury College 52-10 in 2013