Football | Miscues cost Jumbos against Ephs
Tufts falls to 0−5 as another chance to win slips away
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 07:10
Heading into Saturday’s matchup against Williams, the Jumbos knew that big plays would decide the game. The offense needed to create more of them when they had the football, and the defense needed to keep the Ephs from taking deep shots down the field.
The Jumbos were right: Big plays did change the game, but Tufts was on the wrong end of many of them, and the Jumbos ended up falling to 0−5 on the season with a 25−7 loss.
The afternoon looked promising early on, as the Jumbos went 75 yards on 12 plays to take a 7−3 lead at the beginning of the second quarter. After junior running back Marcel Pitre burst through the line to convert a 4th−and−1, senior quarterback John Dodds finished off the drive with a 13−yard toss to senior receiver Marty Finnegan.
“In that drive, everyone did their job,” senior tri−captain Dylan Haas said. “No one made a particularly huge athletic play, we just did what we were supposed to do and ran the plays well.”
But then the Williams offense got going.
After a long return, sophomore quarterback Tom Murphy marched the Ephs down the field on a 10−play, 69−yard drive in which Murphy picked up big chunks of yardage at a time.
“We did pretty well against the run,” senior tri−captain Chris Toole said. “But as a defensive line, we have to put more pressure on the quarterback and the pass.”
Without that pressure, the Williams offense was able to find time for long connections throughout the game. When the Ephs next got the ball, Murphy found junior wide receiver Greg Payton alone behind the Tufts defense and aired it out down the middle for an 82−yard touchdown catch.
On their first possession of the second half, the Ephs used the same play to pick up 58 yards and set up their third touchdown of the game.
“It shouldn’t happen twice in a game,” head coach Jay Civetti said. “The things that they like to do are get some big plays, and we had to stop them.”
The second long ball set up a 74−yard drive to bring the score to 21−7 and put the game out of reach.
After the Jumbos’ opening touchdown, Dodds’ offense struggled to get any sort of momentum, with his longest completion of the game going for only 19 yards. The Jumbos had nine drives on which they ran fewer than five plays, surrendering the ball with punts, interceptions and fumbles.
The Jumbos finished the day with five turnovers, to go along with a blocked punt on which an Ephs special teamer snuck into the backfield to get in front of Finnegan’s right foot.
Those miscues and some uncharacteristic penalties had Civetti pointing to his team’s youth and inexperience, particularly on defense.
“We’re showing our inexperience on the field,” he said. “But we have to realize that regardless of the lack of experience that we have, we still have to step up and make plays.”
The Jumbos had opportunities when the Ephs’ offense faltered, but instead made more miscues that came back to haunt them. Without these mistakes, the game might have had an entirely different tenor, and the Jumbos recognize that all of their contests could have been very different if they cleaned up their play.
“We hurt ourselves a lot of times,” Haas said. “Those small things slowed down our drives, and the way that we were moving the ball yesterday, big penalties can really just kill you. We don’t have room for errors like that.”
The Ephs were able to avoid some of those missteps and to play a cleaner style of football than the Jumbos did. In doing so, they avoided losing their fourth game in a row.
“I think we were the better team,” Dodds said. “And when we didn’t make mistakes we clearly outplayed them. We had some mistakes that killed us, and it’s stuff you can’t do if you want to win the game.”