Waterville, Maine - Tufts University used a balanced attack of rush and pass to gain 464 of total offense and issue the Colby College Football team a loss in its final home game of the 2019 season. The Mules fall to 1-7 while the Jumbos improve to 4-4.
Coming into the contest, Colby knew what it was up against. Tufts had one of the strongest pocket passers in the league with quarterback Jacob Carroll. The combination of Carroll to his top receiver Frank Roche was a lethal combination to watch out for. Colby also knew that Tufts was susceptible to the sack and interception, ranking near the top of the league in those two categories. What Colby may not have expected was for Tufts to come out intent on establishing the run.
On their first drive of the game, the Jumbos took the ball 76 yards on 10 plays, all of which were rushes including a 4th and 1 conversion just outside the red zone. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Mike Pedrini (16 rushes, 101 yards). The commitment to being phsycial up front was evident, and Colby was determined to answer.
On the ensuing possession, Colby began its own 76-yard drive that lasted 16 plays and ended in a 21 yard field goal by Moises Celaya. Prior to the kick, the Mules were 1st and goal from the three yard line, but the Jumbos stiffened and protected the end zone. Quarterback Matt Hersch was 5-8 for 62 yards on the drive, but on the decisive third and goal from the two yard line, Tufts sniffed out a quarterback boot to drop Hersch for a short loss.
Taking three instead of seven was a fine decision for head coach Jack Cosgrove's team. The Mules answered an impressive drive with one of their own, converted on two key third downs, showed a balance in their offensive play calling, and showed their kicking game was focused. Colby measured up and found itself comparable. The next possession would be key to identify what adjustments the coaching staff and players could make maintain momentum and dictate the story.
Tufts responded immediately, as the kickoff that followed found its way from goal line to goal line. Tufts returner Tyler Johnson weaved through the coverage team from end zone to end zone for 100 yards, answering the Mules' score quickly to extend Tufts' lead to 14-3.
While the offense for the Mules struggled to answer back totaling one yard on its next two drives, the defense halted the next Tufts possession with a fumble forced by Nick Hall and recovered by George Eisenhauer (photo below). The Jumbos once again changed their game plan and unleashed Carroll through the air for 140 yards on his next two drives, both resulting in touchdown passes to Roche. The game would enter the half with a score of 28-3.
Colby was able to play even in the second half, scoring its lone touchdown on a brilliant back shoulder fade pass from Hersch to Jack O'Brien (headline photo). Tufts' final score was very similar, with Carroll once again connecting with Roche. Hersch finished the game just shy of 200 yards through the air, and Rory Glavin (photo inset) was his leading target hauling in four passes for 75 yards. Carroll finished the game 14-19 for 236 and three touchdowns, all to Roche who now leads the NESCAC with 886 receiving yards on the year.
A game within the game had eyes on the leading tackler for each team. Entering the contest, linebacker Greg Holt led Tufts and the rest of the NESCAC in tackles, one ahead of Colby's Marcus Bullard. Bullard notched his 6th double-digit tackle game of the season and topped Holt today 10 tackles to 4 to stand alone atop the leaderboards.
With one game remaining in the season, the Mules will need to refocus on the next step. Colby won the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) Trophy last season, and will face Bowdoin next Saturday under the lights with a chance to maintain sole possession for another year. Game time is slated for 4:30 PM in Brunswick.
(photos courtesy of Alec Chapman '21)