Mammoths Best Jumbos in Thriller, Move to 2-1 in NESCAC Play

In their first game after suffering a tough first loss of the season to Colby last weekend, the Mammoths beat Tufts 24-21 in a game with a dramatic finish. Lead by strong defense, the Mammoths stymied Tufts on their final drive to preserve the win.

Mammoths Best Jumbos in Thriller, Move to 2-1 in NESCAC Play

The football team picked up a 24-21 win against Tufts on Saturday, Oct. 2 — rebounding after last week’s loss to Colby. Quarterback Brad Breckenridge ’24 ran for three touchdowns to lead the offense in the victory while the Mammoth defense remained stout, led by defensive tackle Matt Durborow ’22 and defensive back Ryan Monteleone ’24, who each recorded 12 tackles.

The Mammoths got out to a great start, stopping the Jumbos on downs in the game’s opening drive. Breckenridge took the first offensive snap 69 yards on a quarterback keeper down to the Tufts six-yard line. Two plays later, Breckenridge finished the drive himself with a four-yard run for the game’s first score. These would be the lone points of the first quarter, as  defenses on both sides were able to prevent their opponent from stringing together first downs.

The second quarter saw the continuation of strong defense until Tufts was able to break through with just 41 seconds left in the half. With 2:50 left in the second quarter, Tufts started their scoring drive at their own 34-yard line and quickly moved the ball into Amherst territory. The Jumbos finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the score heading into the half.

After an Amherst three-and-out to start the third quarter, Tufts had a great punt return, allowing the team to start its first drive of the second half on the Amherst side of midfield. Tufts used the great field position and quickly took the ball into the red zone. A 23-yard completion put the ball on the Mammoth two-yard line, and the Jumbos punched in another rushing touchdown on the next play, taking the score to 14-7. Breckenridge and the Mammoth offense responded well, putting together a drive that culminated in Conor Kennelly ’23 scoring a 39-yard field goal. Receiver Turner Garland ’22 had a huge 21-yard third-down catch to get into Kennelly’s range. Taking control of the momentum, the Amherst defense stuffed Tufts on their next drive to get the ball back to the Mammoth offense. Breckenridge found tight end Michael Immerman ’22 for a 38-yard completion to start the following drive.

Following four consecutive running plays, Breckenridge earned his second touchdown of the day, this time from 15 yards out. Tufts took the ball on the next drive and drove deep in Mammoth territory, but Ricky Goodson ’22 and Raymond Dixon ’24 combined for perhaps the biggest play of the game. Goodson blocked Tufts’ game-tying field goal attempt, and Dixon scooped up the ball, returning it all the way to the Jumbo 19-yard line.

The Mammoths capitalized on the great field position early in the fourth quarter, as Breckenridge pounded in his third and final rushing touchdown from the Tufts one-yard line. With a 10-point cushion, the Amherst defense kept up their stellar play, as exemplified by a Michael Jeffery ’22 interception and forcing a turnover on downs after a Breckenridge fumble. Tufts was able to put together a late drive leading to a four-yard passing touchdown with 2:37 left in the game. The Mammoths recovered Tufts’ onside-kick attempt, and the offense was able to chew up enough clock to prevent Tufts from scoring on its final drive. Controlling the game’s momentum, the Mammoths were glad to leave Pratt Field with a well-earned three-point win. Breckenridge was the main catalyst for the Mammoth offense accounting for 223 total yards through the air and on the ground. Senior running back Kellen Field ’22 added another 60 yards on the ground. Carson Ochsenhirt ’23 was Amherst’s leading receiver with three catches for 60 yards. The Mammoth defense struggled against the Tufts passing attack giving up 337 yards through the air. However, the Mammoths were able to force key turnovers in the red zone, and Goodson’s blocked field goal completely shifted the momentum of the game. Amherst (2-1) will be at Middlebury (1-2) on Oct. 9, looking to avenge their 2019 overtime loss to the Panthers.