Football: Offense puts on a show in 44-7 opening victory

The Jeffs nearly got on the scoreboard on the third play from scrimmage when the Continental defense bit on a play-action, and senior quarterback Marsh Moseley stepped up in the pocket and lofted a beautifully thrown ball to quad-captain and First-Team All-NESCAC selection Jay Wagstaff ’05, who was about 20 steps behind the nearest defender. Unfortunately, the usually sure-handed Wagstaff let the ball bounce off his chest and Amherst would have to wait a bit longer to find the end zone. They would not have to wait long however.

After Amherst punted on the game’s opening drive, Hamilton got its first crack on offense, the Continentals were unable to keep the ball for very long. Veteran cornerback Rob Walsh ’05 ended this first drive by making a very nifty interception at the Amherst 39-yard line and alertly advanced the ball all the way up to the Continental 43. Amherst’s dominating tailback, quad-captain Fletcher Ladd ’05, covered the rest of the distance on the next play to put the Jeffs up seven. Amherst would not look back from there.

Wagstaff made a spectacular catch in the end zone on the Jeffs’ next drive to more than make amends for his earlier miscue, and fellow senior Matt Monteith found pay dirt on a five-yard scamper early in the second quarter to put the Jeffs up 21.

The Continentals’ lone touchdown came on a 35-yard drive, and Hamilton was probably fortunate to enter halftime down only 21-7. The second half was all Amherst however, as the Jeffs scored 23 unanswered points. Monteith registered his second touchdown of the day, fellow tailback Ngai Otieno ’06 also found the end zone in the second half and freshman receiver Mike Myers scored six points on his first collegiate catch off a nice pass from backup quarterback Nick Kehoe ’07. Senior kicker David Bodner added a field goal to round out the scoring.

Ladd finished the day with 129 yards rushing on just 13 carries. He is now just 107 yards short of overtaking Josh Mason ’97 as the College’s all-time leading rusher. Wagstaff caught six passes for 119 yards to lead the potent Jeff receiving corps. Senior quad-captain Dave Borgonzi headlined the defensive effort with 12 tackles.

While a 44-7 win is always appreciated, the Jeffs understand that Hamilton-a school that has won only three football games in the past three years-is not the team that Amherst ought to be measuring itself against. Most of the heavy lifting for the year remains to be done. “Although it’s nice to get a win, we are still way off from where we need to be,” said Mills.

Next week, Amherst travels to Maine to take on Bowdoin College. After a disastrous, 0-8 campaign last year, Bowdoin is looking to make some strides with the return of quarterback Ricky Leclerc, who missed most of last year due to injury. The Polar Bears lost a sloppy game, 31-17, to the Middlebury College Panthers in last week’s opener.