Amherst, Mass. - The Trinity College Bantams lost for the first time in nearly two years, 28-20, against the Amherst College Mammoths in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Pratt Field. The visiting Bantams, which came back from a 21-point deficit with two touchdowns in the final 4:08 and nearly recovered an onsides kick in the final minute, fall to 7-1 and see their 16-game winning streak come to an end. The Mammoths improve to 7-1 with their third victory in a row and tie the Bantams at the top of the NESCAC standings with one week left in the season. Trinity hosts Wesleyan next weekend and Amherst visits Williams. Trinity, the defending NESCAC champions and Amherst, the league champions from 2013 to 2015, can both win or share the league title with a win on the last Saturday of play, while both can share the NESCAC crown with one or more other teams if they both lose their final game.
Amherst took a 7-0 lead with 6:04 left in the first quarter, going 78 yards in 11 plays. Sophomore QB Ollie Eberth (Andover, Mass.) completed four passes for 44 yards on the drive and finished it off with a five-yard touchdown run. Trinity got on the board in the second quarter after a punt by sophomore Ian McDonald (Avon, Conn.) pinned the Mammoths on their own five-yard line, and the Bantam defense kept Amherst deep in their own territory before a short Mammoth punt gave them the ball at the home team's 28-yard line. Trinity senior tri-captain QB Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) and junior RB Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.) both had 15-yard rushes to offset a penalty and a fumbled snap, and Puzzo found sophomore WR Koby Schofer (Northbridge, Mass.) for a four-yard touchdown toss to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:15 left in the opening half. Amherst took momentum into the locker room at halftime when senior QB Reece Foy (Honolulu, Hawaii) made his lone completion of the day count with a 55-yard scoring strike down the right sideline to sophomore WR James O'Regan (Cambridge, Mass.) with 33 seconds on the clock.
Ahead, 14-7, at the break, Amherst went ahead by two scores with another 11-play drive, going 67 yards on the opening possession of the third quarter and scoring on a two-yard run up the middle by junior RB Jack Hickey (Melrose, Mass.). The defenses forced seven punt over a 16-minute stretch until the Mammoths took advantage of a short Trinity punt and 16-yard return by junior Nate Tyrell (Brooklyn, N.Y) to take over possession at the Bantam 18-yard line with just under 10 minutes left in the final quarter. Eberth completed a third-and-5 pass for just enough for a first down at the Bantam eight-yard line and Hickey ran twice for the remaining distance to give Amherst a 28-7 lead with 7:28 on the clock.
Trinity began its comeback bid with a 27-yard kickoff return out of the end zone by rookie Colin Beaulieu (Bethany, Conn.), and went 73 yards in 13 plays for its second touchdown. Chipouras had a 14-yard run to start the drive and Puzzo connected with Schofer for a 16-yard scoring pass to end it. The PAT try by junior Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.) was blocked to make the score, 28-13. Amherst fielded Trinity's onsides kick cleanly, but the Bantam defense forced a punt after an Amherst penalty negated a first down in Trinity territory. The short kick was downed at the Trinity 20-yard line, and the Bantams marched 80 yards to make it a one-score game. Puzzo connected on a 25-yard pass to sophomore WR Joe Samuelman (North Andover, Mass.) and a 26-yard pass to senior TE Cliff David (Ambler, Pa.) and scrambled 14 yards for a first down on 3rd-and-14 play to keep the chains moving, before Chipouras scored his 10th rushing touchdown of the fall to cut the Trinity deficit to 28-20 with 33 seconds remaining. Trinity's second onsides kick of the game was fumbled and Trinity sophomore DB Matt Patry (Medfield, Mass.) came out of the scrum with the ball, but O'Regan was ruled to have recovered it for the Mammoths and they ran out the clock.
Puzzo finished 15-for-30 for 172 yards, including 117 in the second half, with two touchdowns and one interception, while Chipouras totaled 92 yards on 26 carries. Schofer caught a game-high seven passes for 65 yards and David added four grabs for 60 yards. Eberth was 15-for-23 for 145 yards including six to O'Regan for 95 yards. Hickey and senior RB Hasani Figueroa (Bronx, N.Y.) combined for 121 rushing yards for the Mammoths. Trinity senior tri-captain ILB Liam Kenneally (Reading, Mass.) and junior DT Corey Jean-Jacques (Haverhill, Mass.) had nine tackles apiece, while Jean-Jacques added 1.5 sacks. Junior OLB Dago Picon-Roura (Roslindale, Mass.) added seven tackles and three of four tackles by senior DE Brandon Blaise (Morristown, N.J.) resulted in Amherst losses. Junior LB Andrew Yamin (Cheshire, Conn.) had seven tackles and three tackles-for-loss, while Tyrell had four tackles and an interception for the home squad.