After two exciting weeks at home, the 3-0 Tufts University football team hits the road for the next two weeks starting with Saturday's game at Bowdoin College.
|OJ Armstrong (#3) and Winton Blount celebrate one of the Jumbos' six touchdowns against Bates last week|
Following a 16-13 win under the lights at Ellis Oval on September 15, the Jumbos overcame a 14-10 deficit by scoring 37 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Bates College on Homecoming Day last weekend. Tufts is tied for first place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with Amherst and Williams one-third of the way through the season.
Though 0-3 and losers of 20 straight games overall dating back to 2016, Bowdoin features a much-improved offense and will be playing its Homecoming Game on Saturday. Last Saturday, Amherst mounted a pair of goal line stands to hold off Bowdoin, 24-14.
After six quarters of mediocre play against Wesleyan and Bates, the Jumbo offense exploded in the third and fourth quarters last weekend. After a 34-yard field goal by sophomore Matt Alswanger, Jumbo senior QB Ryan McDonald ran for an 18-yard touchdown and passed for a 16-yard TD to senior Frank Roche and a 25-yard score to sophomore OJ Armstrong. Both were outstanding plays as Roche dove forward into the end zone to make his grab and Armstrong caught his on a deflection off a Bates defensive back.
Amongst all that, senior Dom Borelli ran for a one-yard TD and junior Jay Tyler wrapped up the scoring with a 13-yard run. The Jumbos rushed for 316 yards overall on 56 attempts, a 5.6-yards per carry average. McDonald led the way on the ground, matching his career high with 161 yards on 23 carries (7.0). Adding 207 yards passing and the two aerial TDs, McDonald finished the game with 368 yards of total offense. He was named NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time in his career. He was at the helm as Tufts totaled 545 yards of offense in the game and accumulated 32 first downs. That's the most yards by the Jumbos since they set the school record with 671 at Amherst on October 30, 2010.
While the offensive fireworks were going off, the Jumbo defense continued its superb start to the season. Shutting out Bates in the second half, the Jumbos have allowed just 9.7 points per game (29 points in three contests) to lead the conference. They are 14th in the NCAA Division III statistics in that category. Their 231.7 yards allowed per game is second in the conference behind Trinity.
The Jumbos lead NESCAC with 13 sacks, seven more than anyone else. Last Saturday, senior Jared Ahsler had two as Tufts totaled five overall. Tufts is eighth in the nation in sacks with 4.33 per game. Junior LB Greg Holt and junior cornerback Miles Shipp were both in on eight tackles to lead the way against Bates.
The Jumbos are all over the national statistics with 18 top 20 marks through three weeks. Two that stand out are that they are seventh in turnovers lost giving up just three so far. The Jumbos are also eighth in Division III with just 14 penalties whistled against them this season.
Bowdoin will counter with one of the top running backs in Division III thus far. Junior Nate Richam is 16th nationally averaging 132 yards per game. He broke Bowdoin's 42-year old single-game rushing record with 288 yards on the ground against Middlebury on September 22. He leads NESCAC with 396 yards rushing through three weeks. However, he was limited to just 30 yards on 16 carries against Amherst last week.
Bowdoin has also been effective through the air with 6'5", 210-pound sophomore quarterback Austin McCrum. His 54 completions are second in the league and he's fourth in the conference averaging 173.7 yards per game. Bo Millett (10 receptions-133yards-1TD), Griff Stalcup (16-133-1) and Gregory Olson (9-125-1) are all among the top 11 in yards per game for NESCAC.
Junior linebacker Joe Gowetski leads the conference in tackles with 32 (10.7 per game). His 3.5 tackles for losses are also one of the league's top marks. Bowdoin's Nicholas Leahy (24) and Franny Rose (22) are also in the tackles top 10. Rose has also intercepted two passes.
The Polar Bears are in their third season under head coach JB Wells. They are ranked eighth in the conference scoring 14.7 points per game and seventh at 360 yards per contest. On defense, they've surrendered 34 points per game (eighth) and 493 yards per game (10th).
In last year's game, the Tufts defense did not allow a touchdown for the first time since 2006 and the offense rushed for 227 yards and three scores as the Jumbos defeated Bowdoin 31-3 for their third straight win in the series. Richam had 109 yards rushing for the Polar Bears.
Tufts travels to Trinity next week. The Bantams are the defending NESCAC champions, but were upended by Williams College 21-16 last week. Bowdoin travels out to Hamilton for next week's game.
TUFTS VS. BOWDOIN SERIES
Series Record: 61-49-2 Tufts
First Game: 1889, Tufts 8-4
Last Tufts Win: 2017, 31-3
Last Bowdoin Win: 2014, 33-20
Current Streak: Tufts, 3 games
Large Margins: Tufts 60-7 in 1914; Bowdoin 47-7 in 1951