Despite a strong first quarter, the football team dropped their road contest against NESCAC foe Hamilton on Saturday, Sept. 24, by a final score of 24-10.
Hamilton started with the ball off the opening kickoff, but it didn’t take long for the Mammoths’ defense to make an early impact. Though Hamilton quickly marched the ball down the field, defensive lineman Flynn McGilvray ’23E ended the Continental threat, forcing a fumble by punching the ball out of the opposing receiver’s hands. Solomon Christopher ’25 pounced on the loose ball to secure the turnover and give the Mammoths their first defensive stop of the day. The Mammoths capitalized on the golden opportunity that their defense gave them, methodically driving 75 yards down the field in 14 plays and capping the possession with a two-yard touchdown run courtesy of Tylon Crump ’23, who barreled into the endzone for the first touchdown of his collegiate career, putting the Mammoths in front 7-0. Quarterback Mike Piazza ’24 accounted for 64 of those 75 yards, going five of six for 51 yards passing and rushing four times for 13 yards.
Hamilton didn’t take long to regain the momentum. They answered back immediately with a 75-yard drive of their own, tying the game at 7-7 before blocking a punt on the Mammoths’ following offensive possession. The Continentals took over on Amherst’s 9-yard line following the block, and a fourth-and-goal run from the 1-yard line propelled them to a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
While the Mammoths’ offense struggled for the remainder of the half — getting stuffed on a fourth down conversion attempt and being forced to punt two additional times during the second quarter — the defense kept the Continentals from widening their lead. Hamilton’s most threatening drive of the quarter was halted by linebacker Andy Skirzenski ’24, whose late second-quarter interception stymied a dangerous drive on Amherst’s 26-yard line. The teams went into halftime with the Continentals leading 14-7.
The second half was largely uneventful for the Mammoths — the Amherst offense continued to stall out on multiple drives, going three-and-out to start the half before turning the ball over on downs on a failed quarterback sneak on their second drive. The defense continued to stand tall, forcing punts on the Continentals’ first two drives, but after yet another three-and-out from the Mammoths’ offense, Hamilton added a field goal to take a two-possession lead in the final minutes of the third quarter.
The Mammoths couldn’t find any offensive success in the fourth quarter, either; a failed fake-punt on fourth down gave the Continentals the ball on the Amherst 42-yard line, which led to another Continentals touchdown that effectively shut the door on the Mammoths for good, giving Hamilton a 24-7 three-possession lead. While the Amherst offense managed a field goal on their next drive, it didn’t do much to stop the bleeding, and the Mammoths returned home with a 24-10 defeat.
The difference in this game ultimately came down to Amherst’s inability to finish drives. While Hamilton only outgained Amherst by a small margin, 274 total yards to the Mammoths’ 254, they were able to finish their long drives by putting points on the board. Hamilton leaned heavily on their sophomore running back, who finished with 35 rushing attempts for 126 yards. Louie Eckelkamp ’24 led the way on the ground for the Mammoths, finishing with 17 carries for 74 yards and adding 22 yards through the air on three receptions. Piazza finished 18 of 34 for 134 yards and ran the ball 15 times for 46 yards. Over two games, Piazza has 27 rushing attempts, the most on the team, for an average of 2.3 yards per carry.
The Mammoths will look to get their first win of 2022 on Saturday, Oct. 1, when they take on the Trinity College Bantams on Pratt Field at Lehman Stadium. The game will kickoff at 1 p.m.