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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Stellar defense leads Tufts football to a win in a rainy game against Bowdoin

The Tufts Jumbos spoiled Bowdoin’s homecoming in the Saturday evening game.

Tufts football is pictured playing Williams College on Sept. 30.

Tufts football is pictured playing Williams College on Sept. 30.

The Tufts football team was met with some unwelcome rain during their Saturday game against Bowdoin. Sophomore kicker Vaughn Seelicke described the atmosphere.

“It was a night game and it was absolutely downpouring,” Seelicke said.

A fumble by the Jumbos on the first play of the game put the Polar Bears in a good offensive position, and the combination of senior quarterback Andrew Boel along with junior quarterback Robbie Long put the Polar Bears in field goal position. Bowdoin’s junior kicker Jotham Casey put it through the uprights on a 26-yard field goal to put the Polar Bears up 3–0.  The Jumbos followed up with a slower offensive drive, unable to reach the endzone. Luckily, Tufts’ defensive backs, junior Louis Timmins and senior Kristian Rosario, along with senior linebacker EJ Comerford each had solid stops, leading to a quick Bowdoin three-and-out.

With the ball in the hands of junior quarterback Michael Berluti, the Jumbos’ squad started their momentum. A 10-yard connection to junior wide receiver Ryan Doyle got the team moving, and then a run by junior running back Chartellis Reece put the team in field goal position. Seelicke stepped up and put it through the uprights, tying it up at 3–3. Not only has Seelicke been consistent on the field this season for the squad, but he has also become an important positive presence on the sideline. This is something he believes is essential to the role of the kicker.  

“I think that one of the jobs, in my opinion, of a kicker is to obviously be good at your position, but it’s also to be an energy on the sideline, you know, pick people up, give high fives,” Seelicke said. “I feel like it’s a big job of specialists, both kickers and punters, to be there for the team whenever you’re not in the game.”

Bowdoin continued to switch out their quarterbacks largely based on the plays they were running. Boel threw the ball for the Polar Bears, throwing for 117 yards and completing seven of 24 attempts. In contrast, Long attempted and did not complete his singular pass, but rushed for 51 yards, leading the Polar Bears’ squad in rushing yards.

Bowdoin’s switching of the quarterbacks kept Tufts on its toes. This led to a combination of rushing and throwing by Long and Boel to put Bowdoin into the redzone, especially with Andrew Boel’s 25-yard pass to senior wide receiver Colton Fahey. Fahey had two catches for a total of 59 yards against the Jumbos. A run by Long reached the end zone, putting the Polar Bears up 10–3, and a three-and-out for the Jumbos gave Bowdoin the ball back. Tufts, on the next Bowdoin possession, quickly made it fourth down and a seven-yard punt gave Tufts the ball in a good offensive position. On the first down of the possession, Berluti threw a 24-yard pass and put the ball into the hands of senior wide receiver Jaden Richardson in the endzone to tie the game up 10–10. The momentum had officially swung to the side of the Jumbos, and it stayed there throughout the game. Another stellar defensive set of downs by the Jumbos led to no additional points on the board for Bowdoin.

Berluti, who ran as brilliantly as he threw, continued to prove that by running for 45 yards to the Bowdoin 10-yard line, where he was taken down by Bowdoin senior defensive back Aiden MacNeil. Berluti rushed for 48 yards on Saturday. The dynamic duo that we have seen all season long continued to be unstoppable, as Berluti put the ball again in the hands of Richardson for his second touchdown of the game, making it 17–10. Richardson had four catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns.

On the next Polar Bear possession, Rosario continued what was a stellar game for the Jumbos defense. He knocked down senior running back Andre Eden, making it third and 25 for Bowdoin. Eden had 26 yards against the Jumbos. Sophomore running back Khallid Calhoun came onto the field and made a stamp on the Jumbos’ next possession, running for a few yards. He rushed for a total of 22 yards on Saturday. In the beginning of the third quarter, junior wide receiver Henry Fleckner continued to prove his value with Berluti putting the ball in his hands for a 62-yard gain. Fleckner had two catches for 76 yards in the Bowdoin matchup.

Berluti threw one interception, a pass caught by Bowdoin junior linebacker Gordon Gozdeck in the second quarter, but sophomore defensive lineman Suleiman Abuaqel responded quickly, sacking Boel for a loss of six. Abuaqel had an incredible game against the Polar Bears with five tackles, three of which were sacks. Senior defensive back Drew Guida also added on to the Jumbos’ sack total this season, sacking the Polar Bears’ quarterbacks twice on consecutive downs in the second half. Reece managed to rev the Jumbos’ engine and put the ball in the endzone to make the score 24–10.

Late in the third quarter, Berluti was sacked by junior defensive lineman Axel Romell of the Polar Bears for his first time this season. Defensively, junior linebacker Max Jacobs of the Polar Bears also had a good game with ten tackles. Sophomore defensive back Nick Viscusi of the Polar Bears had seven of his own.

Throughout the third and fourth quarters, Boel looked for sophomore wide receiver Slade Postemski, but it wouldn’t be enough to put any more points on the scoreboard for Bowdoin. Postemski had two catches for 47 yards against the Jumbos. It was a stellar second half for the Jumbos’ defense with players like senior defensive back Vic Garza, Comerford and junior defensive back Henry Ferrelli all making crucial stops to prevent Bowdoin from scoring. Abuaquel and sophomore defensive back Jameer Alves led tackles for the Jumbos, making five each. Rosario also had an interception in the second half. Berluti was happy with the Jumbos’ performance, where they recorded 263 offensive yards, while the Polar Bears managed 155.

“I’m proud of our guys, and kind of how we rally together,” Berluti said. “Again, on the road in a hostile environment with the weather and everything, you know, all the challenges and obstacles we faced, it was certainly encouraging. It was great to see us band together and pull out that victory.”

The Jumbos will take on the Wesleyan Cardinals at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Ellis Oval, hoping to keep their streak of wins going.