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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

Jumbos look to keep momentum alive versus Continentals

Senior running back Dom Borelli runs the ball forward in the Homecoming game against Bowdoin at Zimman Field on Oct. 19.

The Jumbos will look to secure consecutive wins for the first time this season when they host the Hamilton Continentals this Saturday on Parents and Family Weekend.

The Jumbos shined last week during their Homecoming game against the winless Bowdoin Polar Bears, running up a 49–0 scoreline to even their record at 3–3. The game was a clinic on both offense and defense and was the Jumbos' most complete win of the season. Senior quarterback Jacob Carroll led the charge as the Jumbos put up 662 yards of total offense, the highest total in the NESCAC this season.

When told that his offense put up the biggest statistical game in the league thus far, Jumbo coach Jay Civetti shifted attention away from the statistics, and onto his players and staff.

“The guys were really locked in,” Civetti said. “They really bought into the game plan and executed.”

On defense, senior linebacker and co-captain Greg Holt and his unit held Bowdoin running back Nate Richam-Odoi, who averaged 95 yards per game and a score coming into the game, to only 2.5 yards per carry on Saturday.

“We had great energy on Saturday,” Holt, a three-time NESCAC first-team honoree, said. “We were focused on improving from the Wesleyan game, locked in on our assignments and really just had fun playing with each other.”

Their matchup against the Continentals, who also stand at 3–3, should prove to be much more tightly contested than the Homecoming game. The Continentals, led by quarterback Kenny Gray, are 1–2 in their last three games against conference powerhouses Trinity, Williams and Amherst. Their win came against Amherst last week in a 31–28 shootout. The Jumbos lost to Amherst 26–16 in week three. 

“[Hamilton is] very dangerous on offense,” Civetti said. “Their quarterback Gray is really talented.” 

The Continentals have a balanced attack on offense, with three feature wideouts and two workhorse backs who each pose different threats.

“Since they pose both running and passing threats, we have to be very disciplined in our assignments,” Holt said. “Understanding our concepts and our keys is going to be huge.”

Defensively, the Continentals secondary has been very up and down in the past two weeks, conceding five touchdown passes to Williams’ electric quarterback Bobby Maimaron. Against Amherst and quarterback Ollie Eberth, however, the Continentals defensive backs did not concede a touchdown through the air, while forcing Eberth into throwing two interceptions.

“They put [Eberth] in some difficult spots, and good things came of it,” Civetti said. 

Continentals linebacker Carmine Bruno has been a nuisance on defense in the past two contests, forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass as well as putting up strong tackle numbers.

When asked about the threat Bruno poses, Civetti spoke towards what the team must do to combat him.

"We have to be solid in protection, do a great job communicating, and be aware of where he is at all times," Civetti said.

Carroll, a native of Birmingham, Ala., has been extremely impressive under center, fighting off early-season injuries to develop into one of the most prolific passers in the NESCAC. Carroll and junior wideout O.J. Armstrong punished the Polar Bear defense all day on Saturday, as the pair broke out for three touchdown connections.

“Carroll did a great job of going through his reads and making good decisions,” Civetti said. “[Armstrong] was in the right place at the right time and made some great plays.” 

The Jumbos were patiently waiting for Armstrong to have his breakout game, as the electric receiver had only hauled in one touchdown on the season before the Bowdoin game.Expect Armstrong and fellow wideouts graduate Frank Roche and junior Brendan Dolan to be heavily involved in the Jumbo gameplan on Saturday. The Jumbos also had their strongest rushing game of the season, grinding out 276 yards on the ground as well as four scores.

As a whole, the NESCAC is once again proving to be an extremely competitive conference. Holt lauded praise on the league both for its football excellence as well as its academic prowess.

“It’s one of those leagues where anything can happen, and it’s extra cool because everyone is a student and an athlete at the same time. It’s a great place to play,” Holt said.

While the Jumbos certainly have some losses they would love to have back, they have taken care of business against teams they are favored against, and still have their seminole win versus Trinity in week one. What’s more impressive, however, is the teams’ exceptional resilience and commitment to being competitive every day in practice regardless of what happened the week before. Civetti exemplified this when asked about what would break the tie between these two very even teams on Saturday.

“I’m honestly just focused on getting us ready for practice," Civetti said. 

For Holt, the sentiment was the same.

“We’re going to wipe the slate clean every week regardless of what happens, and try to carry momentum into practice," Holt said. 

Expect the Jumbos to be as locked in as ever versus the Continentals on Parents and Family day. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Ellis Oval.