A strong fourth-quarter surge fell just short as the football team suffered their first road loss of the season against Bowdoin on Saturday, Oct. 16.
Coming off of consecutive victories against Tufts and Middlebury, the Mammoths looked to carry this momentum into their game against the Polar Bears. The Bowdoin offense opened the game with a balanced mix of rushing and passing, including second-year quarterback Andrew Boel connecting on five consecutive passing attempts at one point. The opening drive for the Polar Bears consumed a majority of the first quarter, spanning 13 plays and 74 yards.
Nonetheless, the Mammoths’ defense remained resilient, coming up with crucial third and fourth-down stops at their own one-yard line. Ryan Monteleone ’24 provided key tackles as the Mammoths’ defense stuffed the Polar Bears on successive plays to prevent any scoring. While the Bowdoin offense continued to threaten on its very next drive, advancing deep into Amherst territory, the Mammoths’ defense once again came up with the big play. With the Polar Bears on the verge of taking the lead, Michael Jeffery ’22 blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.
However, an Amherst turnover late in the second quarter proved costly, as the Polar Bears would march 68 yards downfield on eight plays to set up a third-and-goal situation. Bowdoin then opened the scoring with a touchdown pass from Boel, connecting on a nine-yard attempt with fellow sophomore Colton Fahey to put the Polar Bears up 7-0 with just over three minutes remaining in the half.
On the other hand, the Mammoths’ offense struggled to build momentum in the first half, failing to enter within field goal range in each of their first three drives. On the final drive of the half, the Mammoths converted on consecutive third downs, led by quarterback Mike Piazza ’24. However, a costly sack on the next third-down play snuffed out the Amherst counterattack. Thus, the Mammoth’s entered the second half down 7-0.
The third quarter was largely a stalemate, marked by incredibly staunch defense by both teams. Despite extended drives by both the Mammoths and the Polar Bears, neither team was able to muster enough offense to break the deadlock. The Amherst defense almost produced yet another momentum-shifting play late in the third quarter, forcing a fumble by Boel on a second and eight rushing attempt. Nevertheless, Boel immediately scurried onto the ball to prevent the turnover.
The score remained unchanged until the fourth quarter, setting the stage for a riveting, back-and-forth denouement. On the first play of the final quarter, Boel connected once again with Fahey, this time on a 68-yard deep ball that put the Polar Bears up 14-0. Down two scores, the ever-resilient Mammoths responded with their best offensive sequence of the day, going 75 yards on 11 plays in a mere three minutes and 50 seconds. Amherst capped off their impressive drive with a 35-yard touchdown strike from Chad Peterson ’23 to Turner Garland ’22 to put the game within one score (14-7).
Bowdoin responded immediately, putting together an extended drive of their own. Relying heavily on their passing attack, Bowdoin put themselves up 21-7 on a 22-yard touchdown reception by Brendan King. The Polar Bears advanced 75 yards — 64 yards via passing plays — on eight plays, taking just four minutes and 29 seconds to score.
The Mammoths once again exhibited their incredible resilience and grit, putting together an even more efficient drive than the previous. Peterson completed six of 10 passing attempts to advance the Mammoths 75 yards in just three minutes and 43 seconds. Peterson’s final pass of the drive, a one-yard toss to PJ Clementi ’22, put Amherst within one score of Bowdoin again.
With only two minutes and 40 seconds remaining in the game, however, Bowdoin ran out a majority of the time. Ultimately, the Mammoths did not have enough time to put together another drive, as the Polar Bears outlasted the Amherst comeback — finishing off their 21-14 victory.
Kelen Field ’22 was the catalyst for the Amherst offense with 105 yards on the ground, averaging an efficient 6.6 yards-per-carry (YPC), in addition to 28 receiving yards. Peterson entered the second half of the game at quarterback for Amherst, throwing for 163 yards along with two touchdown passes on 24 attempts. Clementi led the Amherst aerial attack with eight receptions, 71 receiving yards and a touchdown reception. Garland accounted for the other Amherst touchdown in addition to tallying 61 receiving yards.
This was the Mammoths’ first loss against Bowdoin since 2005, while it was the Polar Bears’ end to a 14-game losing streak, improving to 1-4 on the season. Amherst will look to bounce back at home next Saturday against Hamilton College (2-3), which is coming off a 35-7 home loss to Williams.