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Football struggles with turnovers in season opener

By Charles Ainsworth ’17

September 26, 2013

Last Saturday, the Continentals played Amherst in a home game that tested each player’s endurance and morale. Although Hamilton’s defensive unit kept the Continentals above water for the majority of the game, a lack of consistency and power from the offensive side led to a 7-23 loss to the Lord Jeffs.

Hamilton sophomore Colin Pastorella and first-year Chase Rosenberg traded quarterback roles, throwing for 47 and 23 yards, respectively. The two collectively threw five interceptions, which proved to make a difference in the overall game play.

While Pastorella and Rosenberg are both new to the quarterback position, Head Coach Andrew Cohen saw this game as an opportunity to test their endurance and ability to play under pressure. According to Cohen, “Both of these quarterbacks are young and talented and we’re trying to figure out who gives us the best chance to win during the week in practice.”

However, Simon Jia ’16 recognized that it was difficult for them to be put in this position so early in the season: “The two quarterbacks are young...the fact that they switched back and forth made it difficult for either of them to gain momentum...and put more pressure on each to keep up the intensity while they were playing.”

Quarterback Max Lippe ’15 led Amherst, throwing 162 yards and adding a touchdown on 16 completions. He also rushed for 13 yards in the game. Hamilton’s James Stanell ’14 ran for 89 yards as the Continentals rushed for 153 yards overall, around 50 yards more than the Lord Jeffs. Sophomore Rico Gonzales ran four yards for the only Hamilton points of the day. Additionally, Hamilton had 16 first downs to Amherst’s 13. The Continentals converted on 37 percent of their third downs and also had an advantage on time of possession by about seven minutes.

Hamilton’s team believed it was still in the game by the third quarter, during which the Conts held Amherst to a scoreless count. As Jia said, “The defense kept us in the game. We thought we were still in the game because our defense kept stopping them and creating turnovers for us, which also gave us decent field positions. But we just weren’t able to score and take advantages of opportunities in the red zone.” Coach Cohen said that in this point in the game, “both the players and coaching staff were very confident. We thought we were going to come out in the third [and] get our offense going...But, turnovers made the difference.”

All momentum was lost when an interception thrown by Rosenberg ended the third quarter. Although Amherst took possession, the Continentals’ defense kept a good field position and prevented them from making a touchdown, resulting in the Lord Jeffs having to settle for a field goal.

Still, turnovers proved to be Hamilton’s downfall. The five interceptions by Amherst resulted in 70 yards gained. This often left them in prime field position, and ended once in a touchdown.  The loss was not unexpected: Amherst is a NESCAC powerhouse and went 6-2 last year.

Hamilton’s current lack of a definite quarterback and consistent offensive power puts more pressure on the team to perform better in upcoming games. The team will continue its season this Saturday with another home game against the Wesleyan Cardinals, who beat Tufts 52-9 last weekend.

Jia believes that Tufts is a “good team with a lot of returners, as opposed to our very young team.” Although Saturday’s game will be another tough match-up, he added, “if we’re consistent and try to avoid mistakes, we know we can be the better team.”  With the combination of an already strong defense and the hopes for a more clearly defined offense in the works, improvement and persistence are two qualities sure to grow stronger within the Hamilton football team’s repertoire as the season progresses.

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