October 20, 2010

Amherst/Wesleyan Game Preview

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Week 5 Football Preview: Amherst @ Wesleyan

Amherst College (4-0) vs. Wesleyan University (3-1)
October 23, 2010 * Andrus Field
Middletown, CT * 12:30 p.m.


LIVE COVERAGE
Saturday's game between Amherst and Wesleyan will feature a free webcast (http://www.wesleyan.edu/athletics/webcasts/index.html) and live statistics (http://condor.wesleyan.edu/cascademedia/athletics/stats/football/xlive.htm).


THIS WEEK IN THE NESCAC

Hamilton (1-3) @ Colby (1-3) – 12 p.m.

Trinity (3-1) @ Bowdoin (1-3) – 12:30 p.m.

Bates (1-3) @ Middlebury (1-3) – 1 p.m.

Williams (4-0) @ Tufts (1-3) – 1:30 p.m.


THE SERIES
Amherst won 50 of the first 99 games in what was once a tug-of-war Little Three rivalry, but the Lord Jeffs have defeated the Cardinals in 15 of the past 16 attempts to take a commanding 65-41-9 lead in the all-time series. Amherst has out-scored Wesleyan by a 207-22 margin during its current seven-game unbeaten streak, shutting out the Cardinals four times during that stretch. The last time these teams met in Middletown, Conn., Amherst overcame a 10-7 deficit and scored the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter, holding on for a 17-10 victory.

 

LAST MEETING
Amherst used four interceptions from its defense and a then-season-high 23 points from its offense to earn a shutout victory over Wesleyan at Pratt Field. The Lord Jeffs ran for a season-high 158 yards while holding the Cardinals to 14 yards on 17 carries. Amherst scored on all four of its red zone chances and the Cardinals were unsuccessful on all four of theirs, as the Jeffs continued to come up with timely plays on defense. Matt Rawson '12 booted a 21-yard field goal with 6:01 to play in the second quarter and Sean Legister '11 caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Alex Vetras '11 less than two minutes later, with Aaron Rauh '10 running for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.


AMHERST LAST TIME OUT
Amherst faced a 3-0 deficit after one quarter but scored 30 unanswered points to earn a 30-3 win over Colby, becoming the program's first squad since 1957 to score at least 30 points in each of the first four games of a season. The swarming Lord Jeff defense allowed only three points and 207 total yards while forcing five turnovers and adding its own touchdown. Linebackers Jeff Katz '11 and Matt Pieterse '13 stood out all over the field, with Pieterse recovering a fumble and returning it 81 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the opening half. Katz finished with a team-high 10 tackles, also forcing a fumble and having a hand in two sacks. 

 

WESLEYAN LAST TIME OUT
Matt Coyne '12 scampered 20 yards on a bootleg to the left side with 51 seconds remaining to score the deciding points as Wesleyan survived with a 27-20, come-from-behind victory at Bates. Neither team led by more than seven points during the battle in Lewiston, Maine. In the end, the Cardinals took advantage of a Bates fumble at the Bobcat 29-yard line in the closing moments of the game. Recovering the loose ball was Cyprian Oyomba '12, who also led all tacklers in the contest with 16 (10 solo). With the teams knotted at 20-20, Wesleyan had a 4th-and-1 at the Bates 20 when Coyne faked to Shea Dwyer '10 and rolled around the left side to the endzone for the go-ahead score.

 

KEYS TO THE GAME
Amherst will need to slow down Wesleyan running back Shea Dwyer '10, who leads all of Division III with 189.0 rushing yards per game. The Lord Jeffs led the nation in rushing defense in 2009 (50.9 ypg) and rank third in the conference in 2010 (81.8 ypg), but Dwyer has run wild in each of his first four games this year. In a 35-21 win over Hamilton he gained 213 yards to set the school's single-game record, also accounting for all five of Wesleyan's touchdowns. He broke his own record the following week, gaining 255 yards with three scores in a 27-20 win at Colby. The Jeffs have allowed only one opponent to gain more than 100 yards on the ground this year (Colby, 102), but they will be up against a different beast this weekend.

 

Although Wesleyan's ground attack has been the clear-cut leader in the NESCAC, Amherst will hold a considerable edge in the passing game this weekend. Alex Vetras '11 has thrown nine touchdowns and only one interception, with four players accumulating more than 100 receiving yards thus far. Vetras is only 413 yards shy of setting Amherst's all-time record for career passing yards, as his 235.8-yards-per-game average will be going up against the conference's seventh-ranked pass defense on Saturday. The Cardinals rank ninth in pass offense (154.8 ypg), as only 84 of their 257 plays have resulted in pass attempts (33 percent).  The Jeffs have featured a much more balanced attack, having run the ball 155 times and gone to the air on 142 occasions.

 

The Jeffs and Cardinals have put points on the board in different ways this season (Wesleyan has yet to attempt a field goal), but both teams are capable of changing a game with big plays. Eleven of Wesleyan's scoring drives have been capped off by plays of at least 10 yards, six of which have been for at least 25 yards. Similarly, 13 of Amherst's touchdowns have been scored on plays of at least 10 yards, eight of which were for 25 yards or more. Each team has scored nine times on drives that lasted less than two minutes, with only two of Amherst's 24 scoring drives taking more than five minutes to develop. If the defenses fail to prevent those big plays and quick strikes, Saturday's game could resemble the 38-31 shootout that took place at Middlebury in the second week of the season.

 

This rivalry has been lopsided since 1994, but Saturday's game will not feature the typical Amherst-Wesleyan matchup. The Cardinals have finished above .500 only twice since 2000 (5-3 in 2000 and 2002), but first-year head coach Mike Whalen has his alma mater headed down the right track. Amherst head coach E.J. Mills will be familiar with the style of Whalen, who posted a 38-10 record in six seasons at Williams and earned NESCAC Coach of the Year honors in 2006 for leading the Ephs to an 8-0 record. Wesleyan hasn't gotten off to a 4-1 start since the 2002 squad opened at 5-1, while the Jeffs have won 12 consecutive games and are inching toward the program record for longest winning streak (14).  

 

PROBABLE STARTERS

Amherst Offense

QB - Alex Vetras - 12

RB - Eric Bunker - 14

TE - Charlie Pratt - 46

WR - Sean Legister - 22

WR - Brian Murphy - 4

WR - Andre Gary - 2

RT - Ian Mahoney - 70

RG - Marcus Richtel - 76

C - John Ceccio - 54

LG - Rick Morgan - 62

LT - Jack Reynolds - 51

 

Amherst Defense

SS - Evan Rosenstein - 23

FS - Kevin Heller - 10

CB - Nick Edwards - 25

CB - Landrus Lewis - 1

OLB - Sam Clark - 34

OLB - Jeff Katz - 98

ILB - Brandon Quinn - 31

ILB - Matt Pieterse - 42

DE - Brady Benelli - 55

NG - Matt Sponheimer - 50

DE - Kevin Ferber - 3

 

Wesleyan Offense

TE - Tim Morley - 37
LT - Zach Sadler - 55
LG - Matt Sheeks - 69
C -  Nick Seara - 60
RG - Bobby Rosenthal - 68
RT - RJ Dabbar - 65
WR - Kyle Weiss - 3
WR - Peter Modera - 1
FB - Chris Russell  - 48
RB - Shea Dwyer - 5
QB - Matt Coyne - 7

Wesleyan Defense
DE - Bo Brown - 33
DT - Mandela Kazi - 90
DT - Adam Schwartz - 96
DE - Matt Maloney - 40
LB - Brett Bandazian - 56
LB - Cyprian Oyomba - 28
LB - Eric Ekhardt - 17
DB - Jordan Greene - 24
DB - Derrick Williams - 21
DB - Cam Davila - 2
DB - Justin Freres - 46

 

AMHERST STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing

Alex Vetras (81-of-142/943 yds/9 TD/1 INT)

Rushing

Eric Bunker (66 att/326 yds/4.9 ypc/5 TD)

Ryan Silva (25 att/104 yds/4.2 ypc/0 TD)

Receiving

Andrew Reed (7 rec/212 yds/30.3 ypc/3 TD)

Brian Murphy (22 rec/191 yds/8.7 ypc/2 TD)

Defense

Matt Pieterse (36 tackles/1.5 sacks/1 FR/1 TD)

Evan Rosenstein (31 tackles/2 INT/2 FF)

 

WESLEYAN STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing

Matt Coyne (46-of-82/487 yds/3 TD/2 INT)

Rushing

Shea Dwyer (107 att/756 yds/7.1 ypc/9 TD)

Vince Miller (17 att/114 yds/6.7 ypc/2 TD)

Receiving

Pete Modera (11 rec/238 yds/21.6 ypc/2 TD)

Kyle Weiss (11 rec/100 yds/9.1 ypc/0 TD)

Defense

Cyprian Oyomba (50 tackles/5.0 TFL/1 FR)

Justin Freres (34 tackles/1 INT/1 blk)

 

TEAM STATISTICS

Rushing Offense

A: 178.2 ypg

W: 239.8 ypg

 

Passing Offense

A: 235.8 ypg

W: 154.8 ypg

 

Total Offense

A: 414.0 ypg

W: 394.5 ypg

 

Scoring Offense

A: 37.5 ppg

W: 27.5 ppg

 

Rushing Defense

A: 81.8 ypg

W: 112.0 ypg

 

Passing Defense

A: 211.8 ypg

W: 234.8 ypg

 

Total Defense

A: 293.5 ypg

W: 346.8 ypg

 

Scoring Defense

A: 10.2 ppg

W: 21.2 ppg

 
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