The stands were packed as Ellis Oval came alive on Oct. 8 for the Homecoming 2022 football game against Bowdoin College. After not having an official Homecoming for the past two years, this event was eagerly anticipated by both the players and the student body.
Tufts came into this game with a record of 2–1, riding a two-game winning streak. The Bowdoin Polar Bears stood at 1–2, their only win coming against Hamilton College. The Jumbos had won the last seven meetings against the Polar Bears and were looking to extend that streak to this weekend.
The Jumbos ran out onto the field with a lot of energy, energizing the crowd and getting the stadium loud. On the offensive side of the ball Tufts started out strong, driving into Bowdoin territory on a combination of good runs made by senior running back Tyler Johnson paired with counter runs by sophomore quarterback Michael Berluti. Tufts made it all the way to the Bowdoin 10-yard line when Berluti’s pass was deflected off of the defensive line. The ball popped into the air and was caught by Bowdoin defensive lineman Axel Romell. The interception gave Bowdoin the ball deep in its own territory. The Jumbos’ defense was able to hold the Polar Bears to a 3-and-out and force a punt away, so no damage was done.
After a 3-and-out by Tufts, Bowdoin got the ball back. Quarterback Andrew Boel of Bowdoin hit wide receiver Colton Fahey for 35 yards and a first down. A couple of plays later, Boel was sacked by linebacker EJ Comerford, causing Bowdoin to fumble the ball. It was recovered by defensive lineman Javier Rios. Tufts got the ball back, but was forced to punt at the very end of the first quarter.
After regaining possession of the ball, the Jumbos began to string together a drive. Berluti hit junior wide receiver Jaden Richardson on a crossing route and he ran for 38 yards down to the Bowdoin 2-yard line. From there, Berluti ran it into the end zone– putting Tufts on the board 7–0. Keeping the momentum going, the Jumbo defense forced a Polar Bears 3-and-out, allowing Tufts to get the ball back. Berluti hit his favorite target, senior wide receiver Phil Lutz, for a first down. Later in the drive he completed a pass to sophomore wide receiver Cade Moore for 54 yards, putting Tufts in a favorable position. A 19-yard rush by Berluti brought the Jumbos to the 1-yard line; from there, Johnson ran the ball into the end zone to put Tufts up 14–0.
The defense was able to get yet another punt and the Jumbos’ offense set up once more. Berluti hit Lutz for 25 yards, and Johnson followed that up with a 15-yard rush of his own. Lutz found the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the season and Tufts took the lead 21–0. On the ensuing Bowdoin drive, penalties plagued the Jumbos as they gave up a personal foul and a pass interference call that extended the Polar Bears’ drive. Bowdoin was able to run the ball in from the 2-yard line but missed the extra point to make the score at halftime 21–6.
On Bowdoin’s first drive of the second half, Boel was intercepted by sophomore defensive back Louis Timmins to prevent the Polar Bears from scoring. After a few good rushes by Berluti and Johnson, Berluti hit Richardson for 33 yards and scored a touchdown to extend the Jumbos’ lead to 28–6. Bowdoin turned the ball over yet again on their next drive as the running back fumbled the ball and Tufts recovered. The Jumbos’ drive stalled at the Polar Bears’ 25-yard line however, and first-year kicker Vaughn Seelicke made the 25-yard field goal attempt to bring the score to 31–6.
Junior defensive back Kristian Rosario intercepted Boel on the next drive. Junior quarterback Matt Crowley came in for Berluti to finish out the game. He threw an interception which prevented Tufts from scoring once again, but played solidly to finish out the game. Bowdoin scored once more late in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap to 31–13.
Berluti had a solid day, going 21 for 31 on 336 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He continues to lead the NESCAC in passing yards. He also had 52 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Johnson had a good day, managing 99 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushes. Lutz extended his dominance going for 9 catches, 117 yards and a touchdown. He also leads the conference in receiving yards. Richardson extended his scoring streak with his fifth touchdown of the season in just four games.
Tufts now sits at No. 3 in the conference standings behind the undefeated Trinity and Middlebury. The Jumbos will face the Wesleyan University Cardinals on Saturday. Wesleyan’s record matches that of Tufts at 3–1, and the Cardinals are a very strong team.
The Jumbos will be put to the test in this game, which will prove vital in determining conference standings.