AMHERST, Mass. – Mason Von Jess hit the game-winning field goal in double overtime as the Wesleyan football team defeated Little Three archrival Amherst in a thriller on Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field, 31-28.
Trailing by a touchdown entering the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Ashton Scott threw a 62-yard score to his classmate and wide receiver Matthew Simco who sprinted down the right sideline untouched to even the game at 28-28. With two seconds remaining in regulation, Von Jess' field goal attempt from 25 yards out was blocked by Amherst to force overtime. After two missed field goals in the first overtime period, Amherst started the second OT with the ball and on its first play of the drive, quarterback Ollie Eberth was intercepted by Danny Banks. Six plays later, Von Jess hit the game-winner.
With the win, Wesleyan improves to 6-1 on the season while the loss drops Amherst to 4-3.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- The Cardinals received the opening kickoff and wasted no time getting on the board. After a 42-yard kickoff return by David Estevez, Scott found Simco for a 36-yard touchdown just five plays and one-minute, 48-seconds later.
- Amherst answered as it drove down the field before Eberth threw a 19-yard TD to Daniel Dolan. The Mammoths' drive went 75 yards on eight plays as they evened the score at 7-7 with 9:21 to play in the quarter.
- After a Wesleyan punt, Amherst took over at its own-28. Eberth capped off the 7-play, 72-yard drive with a 26-yard rushing touchdown to put the home team ahead, 14-7.
- Following another Cardinals' punt, Eberth was sacked by Babila Fomuteh on the first play of the drive and on 3rd-and-16, he was intercepted by Sam Kirk who returned it 22 yards. On the very next play, Scott threw another 36-yard TD, this time to Estevez, as the visitors evened the score with 24 seconds to play in the quarter.
- The Mammoths opened the second with an 11-play drive that ended in a punt. The Cardinals punted on their next drive and then Eberth was picked off again, this time by Banks for his first of the game as the Cardinals took over at the home-48. Scott connected with Simco for 27 yards, down to the Amherst-1, and three plays later, Estevez punched it in with only four seconds remaining in the half, capping off a 10-play drive as Wesleyan led 21-14 at the half.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS:
- Amherst received the ball first to start the second half and drove 74 yards on 15 plays as Eberth found Dolan for a six-yard score to even the game at 21-21. The drive took 7:23 off the clock.
- The Mammoths forced a three-and-out and took over at their own-47. After two big gains, a 17-yard catch by Dolan and 28-yard rush from Kellen Field, Amherst eventually got down to the Wesleyan-1 where Eberth ran in for the score to put the home team back on top. The Mammoths led 28-21 with 3:02 to play in the third quarter.
- After back-to-back punts, Wesleyan took over at its own-18 with 12:36 to play in regulation. Four plays later, Scott found Simco near the right sidelines as he sprinted down the field for the big 62-yard game-tying touchdown with 10:43 remaining.
- After three straight punts, the Cardinals took over with 1:34 on the clock at their own-39. Eight-plays, 53-yards later, they got down to the Amherst-8 with just two seconds left to play. On 4th-and-5, Von Jess attempted the game-winner but the Mammoths blocked the kick to send the game into OT.
- Amherst won the coin toss and deferred. Wesleyan went 24 yards on seven plays but the game-winning field goal attempt missed left.
- The Mammoths had a chance to win and went 18 yards on six plays before their field goal attempt hit the left post.
- In the second overtime, Amherst had the ball first and on its first play, Banks picked off Eberth at the Amherst-2. The Cardinals capitalized as they went 22 yards on six plays before Von Jess hit the game-winner from 20 yards out.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Wesleyan held a 427-to-392 edge in total offense.
- Scott went 20 of 30 for 282 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Glenn Smith led the rushing attack with 79 yards on 14 carries and Simco set a career-high with 147 yards receiving on five catches including two scores. Estevez totaled 76 yards (22 rushing, 54 receiving) and scored twice.
- Eberth went 18 of 31 for Amherst with 167 yards passing, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. He also rushed 17 times for 92 yards and two scores. Brandon Huff added 70 rushing yards on 14 carries and Dolan led the receivers with seven catches, 80 yards, and two TDs.
- Wesleyan's defense was led by Will Kearney and Chase Pratt with 11 tackles each, while Banks recorded two interceptions and Ben Thaw broke up three passes.
- John Ballard led the Mammoths' defense with 11 tackles and Matt Schiano totaled six including a sack.
QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH DAN DICENZO:
- "I was very proud of how we stayed together as a team," said Head Coach Dan DiCenzo. "This game had a lot of ups-and-downs, and it is easy to point fingers but our guys stayed together and continued to execute on offense and defense."
- "Mason (Von Jess) has been one of our best players all year. The kick at the end of the game, Amherst got great pressure and blocked it. In OT, he missed the first kick and we told him if the situation calls for another kick, we are going right back to him. Our entire operation of Mike Force snapping, Dan Smith holding, and Mason kicking did a great job executing on the last play."
- "Our offense did a great job today. Matthew Simco made big plays in the passing game and Glenn Smith ran as well as he has in his career. Both Ashton (Scott) and David (Estevez) made big plays today and our offense put a lot of stress on Amherst's defense."
- "I was impressed with how our defense stayed together, their offense is good but our kids made some big plays. Danny Banks is a great player for us. He did not have a good week last week but he came back and had two huge interceptions and was lockdown all day. I'm really impressed with his mental toughness."
- Wesleyan is back in action next Saturday, November 2 for Homecoming Weekend as the Cardinals (6-1) host Little Three archrival Williams (6-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday's contest is also the annual Salute to Service game and Senior Day.