Going into what would be a rainy Homecoming game, the focus for the Tufts football squad was to bounce back from the 44–19 Trinity loss with a win over Bates. As the game began, it became evidently clear that they were playing well, with a combination of a jumping catch by senior receiver Jaden Richardson and then a 61-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Michael Berluti putting the Jumbos up 7–0 after their first possession. The Jumbo herd was there to show their support. “All the alumni back, the parents, the students. It’s really cool. That was really fun. We had the Jumbo out. That was awesome,” Berluti said. Junior running back Chartellis Reece also noticed. “I loved the night game. It was definitely something different and I really liked it. It was way more energy than I’ve seen in the long time that I’ve been here,” Reece said.
Bates Football walked into Saturday’s game with a record of 0–1 having lost to Wesleyan the previous week, and junior quarterback Colton Bosselait was looking to change their momentum. He rushed for 10 yards on the next Bobcats drive to get the offense started, but was shut down by junior defensive lineman Jalen Hill. The Bobcats managed to eke out some forward progress and Bates first-year kicker Marcos Ruiz kicked a 23-yard field goal to make the score 7–3.
On the Jumbos’ second possession, Reece began his campaign for what would turn out to be a stellar individual game, rushing for a 38-yard gain. He ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Khallid Calhoun added onto that with another 14-yard gain. Reece was not finished in this possession, getting another five carries to take the Jumbos to the Bobcats’ 10-yard line, where Berluti connected with junior wide receiver Cade Moore. Moore, with an acrobatic catch in the endzone, made it 14–3. Sophomore kicker Vaughn Seelicke was consistent Saturday night, making three field goals and five extra points, going eight for eight.
Defensively, senior linebacker EJ Comerford continued to play an important defensive role, stopping both Bosselait and first-year running back Ryan Lynskey from making significant impacts on separate plays in the second quarter. Junior defensive back Jameer Alves was consistently effective as well, having four tackles on Saturday, including one at a dead sprint that stopped the Bobcats from gaining much needed momentum.
A kick sent through the uprights by Seelicke made the score 17–3 with just over six minutes to play in the half. The Bates squad responded by putting together an effective drive with a 10-yard run from sophomore running back Jack Morrall and a 40-yard throw from Bosselait to sophomore wide receiver Sergio Beltran. Another connection by that pair put Bates in the Tufts endzone to close the gap to one score. The Jumbos didn’t flinch however, and a solid drive capped by another Seelicke kick made it 20–10 going into halftime.
In the second half, it was all Jumbos. The half started with a 36-yard run by Reece along with another Seelicke field goal. A big interception by junior defensive back Louis Timmins piled on the Jumbo momentum, and Reece ran it into the endzone to make the score 30–10. Senior defensive lineman Ed Iuteri made big plays as usual, sacking Bosselait for a seven yard loss. However, the Bosselait-Beltran combination continued to be successful, and a 57-yard completion put the Bobcats in scoring range, which they capitalized on by getting into the endzone. Ruiz’s extra point attempt was blocked by senior defensive back Kristian Rosario and the score stayed at 30–16. Bosselait completed 11 out of 20 of his attempts, throwing for 162 yards. Sergio Beltran had 7 catches for 127 yards, with two touchdowns as well.
Berluti found junior tight end Jack Elliot for nine yards and then Reece ran the ball in to make the score 37–16 for the Jumbos at the beginning of the fourth quarter, keeping the squad’s momentum rolling. Defensively, senior lineman Javier Rios and graduate student lineman Michael Butler made a tackle in the Bates backfield for a loss of seven yards. Backup senior quarterback Matt Crowley entered the game, eager to put his stamp on the game, which he quickly did. A 12-yard rush featuring a fantastic stiff arm put the Jumbos in scoring position, and junior running back Joey Dellumo pushed through into the endzone to make the score a final 44–16. Tufts had a combined 469 yards of offense on the night, while Bates had only 261.
Defensively, Comerford was happy with the night.
“Obviously Louis Timmins got his first interception of the year and Eddie Iuteri got his first sack of the year. So I mean, that’s really what gives us the confidence to play is sacks and tackles for losses and interceptions,” Comerford said. He himself had nine tackles that night.
Berluti specifically praised five offensive linemen on the Jumbos squad.
“Kent Oliver, Jack Lynch, Blair Horning, Gus Bickert and Travis Cepalia, ... I want to shout out. The O line did an unbelievable job for us,” Berluti said. He threw for 140 yards, with one touchdown and rushed for an additional 75 against the Bobcats. He completed 12 of 19 of his pass attempts.
The Jumbos will take on the Williams Ephs next weekend at the Ellis Oval at 1:30 p.m.
“Our defensive group especially is very excited for this week,” Comerford said. “Obviously, you know, everybody feels confident with the football in Berluti’s hands so the less time the defense can spend on the field, you know, the better.”
Berluti took a perhaps more cautious approach, knowing that the last two years it has been a fight against the Ephs for every minute.
“They’re always good, and they always play us tough, so it’s gonna be a dogfight. It’s gonna be a battle for us for 60 minutes, but we’re excited for it,” Berluti said.