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Football | Lord, have mercy: Jeffs crush Jumbos, 51-7

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 14:10


Jay Civetti sat in his office yesterday, as he has each of the past six Sundays, prepared to talk about his team’s most recent performance. He chewed his sunflower seeds, as always. But somehow, this Sunday was different. Civetti’s demeanor was a bit more serious. His words came out quieter.

Tufts’ head coach understands as well as anyone that building a program is a gradual process. He knows his players are young and inexperienced. He knows there are better days ahead.

But at Amherst on Saturday, his team, quite simply, took a step in the wrong direction. Sure, the Lord Jeffs are a NESCAC powerhouse -- but 51-7? To Civetti, that's unacceptable.

“That type of loss is inexcusable,” he said. “That type of performance, as a team, is inexcusable.”

With the 44-point defeat -- Tufts’ worst loss in at least 13 years -- the Jumbos fell to 0-6, while their losing streak increased to 21 games.

“I obviously didn’t do a good enough job preparing the guys throughout the week,” Civetti said. “I didn’t have the coaches well enough prepared. I didn’t have the kids well enough prepared. A loss like that -- that one sits pretty tough with me.”

As in each of their last three games against tough opponents, the Jumbos made some noise against Amherst in the first quarter. After falling behind 14-0, they drove 75 yards in a minute-and-a-half, scoring on a 36-yard touchdown run by sophomore Zach Trause to cut the deficit in half.

Trause took a direct snap from the Wildcat formation and found a huge hole up the middle, reaching the end zone for the first time in his Tufts career.

The Jumbos’ run defense, which has been a point of weakness all season, also had a solid first quarter, limiting the Lord Jeffs to just over three yards per carry.

But from there, the game turned ugly. In the second quarter, Amherst had a touchdown sandwiched by two field goals, and in the third they scored three touchdowns.

The twist of the knife came late in the third, with senior quarterback John Dodds marching Tufts all the way from its own 27 to Amherst’s 26-yard line. Senior tri-captain receiver Dylan Haas and junior running back Marcel Pitre had made two strong plays apiece to highlight what was shaping up to be a beautiful drive.

Then, on 2nd-and-10, Dodds was picked off by junior linebacker Danny Chun, who took it back 72 yards for a touchdown.

At that point, both teams put in their backups, and in the fourth quarter the Lord Jeffs tacked on a field goal to eclipse the 50-point mark.

“We just didn’t perform in the way which we have built,” Civetti said. “The level of toughness and the level of fight -- the resiliency was challenged.” 

Tufts reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time this season, but went just 3-for-11 on third down and had a season-low 88 passing yards.

Perhaps the brightest spot for the Jumbos was the performance of senior punter Marty Finnegan, who averaged just under 40 yards per punt and continued his streak of at least one pin inside the 20 in every game.

Meanwhile, the Jeffs improved to 5-1 on the year and, on senior day, honored a class that is now 27-3 in the last four seasons.

The Lord Jeffs finished with 538 total yards of offense, including an uncharacteristic 338 yards through the air between sophomore Max Lippe and freshman Jonathan Pieterse.

Now, with two games remaining, the Jumbos face their biggest test yet. Next weekend, they will play their final home game against a 1-5 Colby team that was recently wiped out by Bates, 31-6.

The game against Colby is Tufts’ best opportunity left to snap its losing streak. But in order to have a shot, the Jumbos have to bounce back from their previous game the right way.

“In a loss like that, it’s not about the team you played. It’s about how you respond,” Civetti said. “That’s all I can do right now ... try to teach these kids how to respond the right way. There’s either A or B in their choice: A, you give up. B, you put your helmet on and you keep working hard.”

For Civetti, the decision is easy. 

“I’m hungry for this weekend,” he said. “I’m gonna do whatever it takes.”

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