One of three undefeated teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) heading into week five, the Jumbos face their biggest test of the season on Saturday when they travel to Trinity College.
Tufts earned its first shutout victory in 12 years last Saturday 28-0 at Bowdoin College. It was a group effort by the defense, which is now allowing just 7.3 points per game this season. Junior linebacker Greg Holt led the way with six tackles as 20 Jumbos overall contributed stops. The last Tufts shutout was a 7-0 final over Colby on November 4, 2006.
|Mike Pedrini ran for two touchdowns at Bowdoin and now has 11 in 13 career games at Tufts|
Two-time defending NESCAC champion Trinity College has a loss – 21-16 against unbeaten Williams College on September 29 – but the Bantams remain the conference kingpin. They righted themselves with a 44-7 win over Hamilton last weekend. The Bantams have won eight conference titles in football overall, more than anyone else.
Trinity is the alma mater of Tufts head coach Jay Civetti, who was an All-League offensive lineman for the Bantams and graduated in 2001. He will be attempting to lead his Jumbos to a win over Trinity for the first time of his eight-year tenure at Tufts. The Bantams have won 10 in a row in the series overall, dating back to 2008.
The Jumbo defense limited Bowdoin to 11 first downs and a four for 18 mark on third down (22 percent) last week. It was the first time the Polar Bears had been blanked since November 2015. Tufts has not allowed a Bowdoin touchdown in two straight games now including last year's 31-3 victory. The Jumbo defensive effort included a 35-yard interception return by senior Tim Preston – the 15th pick of his career – and the third sack in two weeks by senior defensive end Jared Ahsler.
The Tufts offense has also been clicking the last two weeks as they went over 500 total yards again at Bowdoin. The Jumbos were balanced with 271 rushing yards and 251 in the air for 522 total. Senior QB Ryan McDonald completed 19 of 25 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore RB Mike Pedrini ran for two TDs and senior Dom Borelli led Tufts with 73 rushing yards on seven attempts. Eight Jumbos caught passes, including a 17-yard score by senior WR Jack Dolan and a four-year touchdown by junior TE Jack Donohue.
While leading the NESCAC in scoring defense, the Jumbos are third allowing 231.3 yards per game. Their 58.3 rushing yards allowed per contest is second in the league. Offensively, they are one of four conference teams average 30 or more points per game with their exact 30.0 scoring rate. They are second in the league at 402.5 yards per game, which includes a 212.3 rushing (fourth). McDonald is the third-rated passer in NESCAC with a 121.2 efficiency mark. His 326 yards rushing is fifth in the NESCAC. Holt is also fifth in NESCAC with his 34 tackles, with five for losses ranking third.
The Bantams, who will be returning home for the first time in three weeks, lead NESCAC in scoring (38.5 points per game), total yards per game (518.8) and lowest total yards allowed per game (206.3). The 11 points per game that they surrender is fourth. The Bantams are always tough at home, where Tufts hasn't won in the series since 1998.
All-Conference first team running back Max Chipouras is in the senior season of a career that has seen him rush for almost 3,000 yards. He enters Saturday's game just 26 yards shy of becoming the second Bantam back in history to reach that milestone. He's second in NESCAC this season with 478 yards, while his five touchdowns are third.
The Trinity aerial attack guided by junior QB Jordan Vazzano has resulted in 289 yards per game and 11 touchdowns thus far. Sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Girard is having an outstanding season for Trinity. Through four weeks he's caught 25 passes for 605 yards and six touchdowns. His 24.2 yards per catch and 151.3 yards per game are miles ahead of the next-best marks in the league. The Bantams also have junior Koby Schofer with 27 catches for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Trinity has returning All-NESCAC first team pick Austin Baiardi on the offensive line.
Adding to this great offense, Trinity also has the best kicker in the league with senior Eric Sachse. He has not missed a kick so far this season at 19 for 19 on extra points and five for five on field goals including a 50-yarder. Also on special teams, sophomore Colin Beaulieu is dangerous on returns with averages of 31.3 yards on kickoffs and 11.2 on punts.
The Bantams lost five All-Conference players on defense from last season, but haven't seemed to miss a step. One Bantam returning from the All-Conference first team is Corey Jean-Jacques who has 4.5 tackles for losses. They are led in tackles by junior linebacker Daniel Negron with seven per game. Sophomore James Christiano has two sacks. Linebacker Dago Picon-Roura is also an All-Conference player.
Trinity got a fourth-quarter touchdown from Chipouras that proved to be the difference in a close 23-16 game in Somerville last season. The Jumbos had tied the game at 16-16 early in the fourth on a 14-yard touchdown run by Pedrini.
Tufts will return home next Saturday to play Williams, who join the Jumbos and Amherst in the unbeaten ranks so far in 2018. Trinity travels to Bowdoin next week.
TUFTS VS. TRINITY SERIES
Series Record: Trinity 42-18-1
First Game: 1894, Tufts 8-4
Last Tufts Win: 2007, 16-10
Last Trinity Win: 2017, 23-16
Current Streak: Trinity, 10 games
Large Margins: Tufts 42-8 in 1962; Trinity 48-6 in 1950