Offense Improves But Football Falls Just Short

Though the offense put forth their best performance of the season, the football team lost in the dying embers of Saturday’s contest against Bates. They will look to get into the win column this weekend at Colby.

Offense Improves But Football Falls Just Short
Quarterback Mike Piazza '24 and the Amherst offense found their form this week with their highest point output all season, but despite this performance the team dropped to 0-4 with a loss to Bates. Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios. 

Despite a bounce-back performance by the Amherst offense, the Mammoths fell just short of their first win of the season, falling 27-23 to Bates in a battle of previously-winless teams on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Unlike the last couple of weeks of the season, the Mammoths’ offense was the story of the day, finally beginning to click after three weeks of single-digit point performances. That all-important unit started the game strong, opening the scoring with a 38-yard field goal from Conor Kennelly ’23 to cap off a 13-play, 52-yard drive that lasted over seven minutes. And the Amherst defense began the game on fire as well, preventing the Bobcats from scoring in the first quarter, and helping to build the team’s lead shortly after. With just over nine minutes to go in the first half, linebacker Andy J. Skirzenski ’24 intercepted a pass by Bates’ quarterback and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, the first score of his collegiate career. It was Skirzenski’s second interception of the season, and extended the Mammoths’ margin to nine — their largest lead of the season so far.

While Bates narrowed Amherst’s margin to three with a touchdown just before halftime, Phil Slaughter ’25 blocked the extra point attempt, and the Mammoths led by a field goal heading into the locker room. This marked the first time they have led at halftime this season. But that lead wouldn’t last long, as the Bobcats scored another touchdown with five minutes to go in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time, and went into a pivotal fourth quarter up four, 13-9.

That final quarter did not disappoint — four lead changes and a last-minute touchdown provided the drama in a back-and-forth affair. Like they had earlier in the game, the Mammoths scored first. After a botched punt by Bates, quarterback Mike Piazza ’24 capitalized, first finding receiver Jack Betts ’24E on a 21-yard reception before scampering into the endzone himself for a 4-yard touchdown run to take the lead back. It was the first rushing touchdown of Piazza’s career. The lead flipped again a few drives later, with the Bobcats scoring another touchdown to go up 20-16 with a little more than seven minutes to play in the contest. But again, the Mammoth offense immediately responded, with a 15-play, 72-yard drive eating up over six minutes of clock and putting them in the lead. The drive to the redzone included a 19-yard completion to tailback Jack Roberge ’24 that put the Mammoths on the Bobcats’ 7-yard line. A pair of rushes by Piazza pushed the line of scrimmage to the 2-yard line, and junior tailback Louie Eckelkamp ’24 finished off that impressive drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Mammoths a 23-20 lead with just over a minute left to play. But it was just not meant to be for Amherst on Saturday, as the Bobcats stole victory from the jaws of defeat, scoring a 28-yard touchdown with 13 seconds to go to win the game in the final minute, 27-23.

With the loss, the Mammoths dropped to 0-4 on the season. They will look to get their first win of 2022 in Waterville, Maine, on Saturday, Oct. 15, when they take on the Colby College Mules. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.