Football vs. Amherst Game Notes

Saturday marks the 86th meeting between historic rivals Amherst College and Bowdoin College. The game is the home-opener for the Jeffs (1-0), who opened last weekend with a shutout victory at Bates. The Polar Bears (1-0), who posted their first victory over Williams since 1979 in a 28-14 win last Saturday, have won three straight contests dating back to last season.

Saturday's game will be carried live by WAMH, Amherst's campus radio station. The broadcast will begin shortly before gametime (1:00). Click the link above to listen live.

Entering the 2007 campaign, no NESCAC team had a taller task than Dave Caputi's Polar Bears, whose opening two weeks featured teams that combined to go 13-3 a year ago. The Williams-Amherst combo proved difficult for the '06 squad, who lost the pair of games by a cumulative score of 47-7.

However, the tenor of Bowdoin's season changed following the Williams victory in week one. The only other time in the last 16 seasons that the Polar Bear football team won their season-opener was in 2005, when the team claimed their first four games and finished 6-2 overall. Bowdoin has a chance to make history this weekend and accomplish something that hasn't been done in nearly four decades. The Polar Bears have not beaten Amherst and Williams in the same season since 1970 (34-21 over Amherst, 20-13 over Williams).

Following a mind-boggling performance by the Bowdoin defense, the Polar Bears lead all divisions of NCAA Football with an astounding +7.0/game turnover margin. Matt Leotti and Lamont White had two interceptions apiece in the Williams game, while Damon Hall-Jones and Kevin Zikaras paced Bowdoin with nine tackles apiece. Offensively, Ian Merry ranked second in the conference with 96 receiving yards, while quarterback Oliver Kell stood third in the league in passing efficiency after a 216-yard, one-touchdown performance.

Bowdoin led the NESCAC with 28 points scored last week and stood fifth in points allowed (14). The Polar Bears did allow 405 yards of total offense to the Ephs, but their two fumble recoveries and six interceptions more than made up for the difference.

Amherst blew away Bates 24-0 thanks in great deal to a stifling defense that allowed just 131 total yards of offense, including just 25 on the ground. The Jeffs were efficient on offense, getting 170 yards rushing as a team, including 85 from Eric NeSmith, 46 (along with three touchdowns) from Aaron Rauh and 45 from Anthony Fuller. Chris Mottau led the Amherst defense with nine total tackles.

Amherst avenged their 2005 loss to Bowdoin by gaining over 400 yards of total offense in a 20-7 victory. A balanced rushing attack paid off with 191 yards for Amherst, led by 65 from Eric NeSmith. Nick Kehoe was 19-30 for 210 yards passing for the Jeffs, while Mark Hannon caught eight balls for 93 yards. Bowdoin's Ian Merry made several stellar receptions to finish the day with five catches for 83 yards, while Tom Duffy completed 13-of-31 passes for 143 yards. Jeff Smith (54 yards) and Kelleher (45) paced the Polar Bear rushing attack. Brendan Murphy had an interception for Bowdoin in the loss.

Despite the Jeffs winning 12 of the last 14 meetings between the squads, Bowdoin has given Amherst fits in their most recent meetings. Last season, Amherst outgained Bowdoin by a nearly 2:1 margin, yet had to score 10 points in the final six minutes to pull away in a 20-7 win. In 2005, the Polar Bears snapped a six-game losing skid to the Jeffs with a 16-13 win in Massachusetts. The most entertaining contest between the teams in recent memory was the epic 2004 showdown- the first overtime game in Whittier Field history. Several school records were set in the Jeffs' 34-28 win, including Amherst's Fletcher Ladd rushing for 170 yards, Rob Walsh's four interceptions and Bowdoin's Ricky Leclerc's school-record 64 passes for 395 yards. Amherst holds a 65-18-2 edge in the all-time series.