Saturday’s result can hardly be regarded as an upset, as Trinity has lost only once this year and hasn’t dropped a game in Hartford since 2001: a span encompassing 39 straight home victories. The 8,000 Bantams watching the game did not make things any easier.
Reversing their tendency to fall behind early and “play uphill” in recent outings, the Jeffs struck pay dirt on their very first play of the game: a 47-yard TD bomb from QB Alex Vetras ’11 to Andre Gary ’11 just 16 seconds into the contest. Junior Matt Rawson’s PAT made the score 7-0, and things continued to break the Lord Jeffs’ way when barely three minutes later an interception by sophomore defensive back Landrus Lewis set up a 35-yard Rawson field goal to up the lead to 10-0.
Trinity finally got on the board at the three-minute mark of the first quarter on a four-yard scamper by Bantam rookie running back Evan Bunker, little brother of Amherst’s own tailback Eric Bunker ’12, to narrow the gap to 10-7. The Jeffs added another Rawson field goal late in the half to take a 13-7 lead into the locker room.
A hard-fought third quarter highlighted both squads’ defenses and punting units, as Amherst clung tenaciously to its lead. Unfortunately for the Jeffs, the running attack sputtered, forcing the defense to remain on the field for prolonged stretches. The game’s momentum shifted on a monster 97-yard drive that Trinity began on its own 3-yard line with a minute to go in the quarter. Eating up more than 10 minutes of clock with a gritty rushing game, the Bantams peeled off 18 plays, including a gimmick 5-yard pass play from the younger Bunker for the go-ahead touchdown with six minutes left.
Although the extra point put the Bantams up by only one, 14-13, the extraordinary 10-minute drive took its toll on the Amherst defense, as demonstrated by Trinity’s ability to score a quick insurance touchdown with three minutes to go, as well as a meaningless final TD to make it 28-13.
And while the stat sheet cannot quite encapsulate the game, the numbers do not lie. Trinity held the ball for 43 of the 60 minutes and compiled 251 yards on the ground compared to less than 50 generated by Amherst. Bantam workhorse Bunker himself accounted for more than 200 yards on 45 carries.
Still, not all was doom and gloom for the Jeffs. They now boast an outstanding 6-1 record, and with his 162 yards of passing yardage for the afternoon, Vetras surpassed the 5,000 yard mark for his collegiate career. He has now thrown a touchdown in his last 23 games.
On defense, junior Evan Rosenstein amassed 13 tackles and sophomore lineman Matt Sponheimer accounted for 12 tackles and a pair of sacks — high numbers which also suggest the lengthy amount of time that the defense spent on the field.
Rawson, whose efforts afforded him his second NESCAC special teams player of the week award this season, was also recently recognized with the prestigious Fred Mitchell Award. The award highlights his expertise and crowns him as one of the 10 best kickers in all of Div. III. After hitting 33 of 34 PAT’s and eight of nine field goals on the season, Rawson ranks second in overall scoring in the conference, averaging a remarkable 9.3 points per game — much to the chagrin, no doubt, of receivers and running backs. No other kicker averages more than 5.5ppg. In what will most likely be a close game this weekend against undefeated Williams, Rawson’s impressive skills may very well lead the Lord Jeffs to victory and a share of the NESCAC Title.
Amherst will be seeking football redemption at home this Saturday, during Homecoming Weekend, against archrival Williams, the only remaining undefeated team in the conference. If the Lord Jeffs prevail, the NESCAC championship will be split three ways among Amherst, Williams and Trinity (assuming the Bantams win their final game against Wesleyan). If the Lord Jeffs lose, Williams will enjoy sole ownership of the conference crown. While Amherst’s impressive win streak may be over, the disappointment will be quickly forgotten with a win over Williams in the 125th edition of the “Biggest Little Game in America” and a share of the conference title.