Tufts Football Team Plays Final Home Game of 2012 Against Colby on Seniors Day

Saturday, November 3, 2012
At Ellis Oval/Zimman Field, 12:30 pm

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Live Stats: http://livestats.prestosports.com/tufts/

Defensive end Zak Kline is one of 16 four-year seniors playing in their final home game on Saturday

It’s Seniors Day on Saturday at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field as 16 Jumbos play at home for the final time of their careers. Tufts faces Colby College, with both teams looking to finish strong over the final two weeks of 2012 heading into next year.

This is a particularly dedicated Jumbo senior class. The program has been rebuilding and underwent a coaching change before their junior seasons last fall. There have not been many victories. However, to a man, these guys have provided positive leadership as the team works to get better. They showed how to play for your teammates and for the love of the game.

Tommy Castle, Kayin Cherry, Austin Crittenden, Sam Diss, John Dodds, Marty Finnegan, Dylan Haas, Mike Howell, Nick Kenyon, Zak Kline, Vincent Lee, Evan Parker, Andrew Rayner, Sam Stone, Chris Toole, and Curtis Yancy are all four-year Jumbos. They will be saluted in a pre-game ceremony as Tufts thanks them for their hard work and wishes them the best in the future.

This is a big game for the Jumbos. They enter at 0-6 after last week's 51-7 loss at Amherst College. Likewise, Colby (1-5) took it on the chin last week with a 31-6 defeat against in-state rival Bates. Tufts will be playing to end a current 21-game losing streak. Doing so on Seniors Day would be very appropriate.

The Jumbos ran the ball well at Amherst last week. The Lord Jeffs entered the game as #1 against the run in NESCAC allowing 77 yards per game. Tufts rushed for 103 on 24 carries, an average of 4.3 yards per tote. A committee of backs including Zack Trause, who ran for a 36-yard touchdown, Ryan Pollock, Marcel Pitre, and Justin Weaver provided most of the yardage.

Down 14-0, Tufts went 75 yards in just four plays to pull within 14-7 late in the first quarter. Weaver had a nine-yard run that led to a 36-yard burst up the middle by Trause for a touchdown, the first of his collegiate career.

Early in the second quarter, Diss returned a kickoff 41 yards to set the Jumbos up at about midfield. He gained 103 yards on four returns overall, and would finish the game with eight tackles. Two Jumbos were in double-digits, including Crittenden with a game-high 12 tackles (eight solo). That matched a career high, and he also provided two pass break-ups against Amherst. Sophomore Tommy Meade totaled 10 tackles, and currently ranks sixth in the league with 50.

Colby, likewise, is eager for a win on Saturday. First-year head coach Jonathan Michaeles’ team had a 32-29 victory against Hamilton two weeks ago, but their momentum was stopped in a 31-6 loss at Bates last Saturday. They’ll be looking to pick it back up at Tufts heading into next Saturday’s season-finale against Bowdoin.

Like the Jumbos, the Mules were held under 200 yards of total offense last week. Freshman quarterback Justin Ciero provided most of the yards (137 passing, 12 rushing) for the Mules and threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Indigo Dow (five receptions, 69 yards) in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore linebacker Harry Nelson, who is tied for first in NESCAC with 67 tackles through six weeks, leads the Colby defense. He had 13 stops (eight solo) last week at Bates, after a NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week effort with 17 tackles in the victory against Hamilton. The Mules sacked Bobcat quarterback Trevor Smith four times, including 2.5 by senior Ryan Veillette. The 2011 All-Conference performer leads the league with 5.5 sacks this fall. The Mules’ defense also features one of NESCAC’s top interceptors as junior Jason Buco comes in with four.

Both offenses have leaned more heavily on the passing game this season. Despite being limited at Amherst last week, the Jumbo pass attack behind Dodds continues to rank second in the league averaging 193.7 yards per game. Ciero, a freshman learning the ropes for Colby, is fourth in NESCAC with nine touchdown passes while recording 138 yards per game aerially (sixth).

Defensively, the Mules rank last in NESCAC allowing 232.3 passing yards per game, and the Jumbos are 10th against the run with opponents gaining 232.8 per contest. Conversely, Colby is decent against the run (131.7 for fifth in the league) and Tufts is fifth against the pass (185 yards per game). On paper this would appear to favor the Jumbos with their productive passing attack. Ciero leads a Mules ground game that averages only 71.5 yards per game. However, those are only trends and the true nature of the game will play out on  Saturday afternoon.

As the Jumbos build for the future, more new faces are getting involved on the field. Watch for freshman receiver Jack Cooleen (#89), who has six receptions for 75 yards. Freshman Chris Chininis (#13) is becoming a factor in the Jumbos’ return game. Sophomore Pat Glose (#30), and freshmen Evan Anthony (#54), Patrick Williams (#83), and Corey Burns (#96) are among several oncoming playmakers in the Tufts defense.

The Jumbos play next Saturday at Middlebury College as the 2012 NESCAC season draws to a close.

Series Record: 40-21-1 Tufts
First Game: 1909, Colby 10-0
Last Tufts Win: 2008, 17-10
Last Colby Win: 2011, 20-10
Current Streak: Colby 3 games
Large Margins: Tufts 41-0 in 1985; Colby 45-7 in 1994.