Hamilton stages big rally before Tufts escapes with football win
The Hamilton College football team staged a furious second-half rally after falling behind 21-0, forcing overtime before visiting Tufts escaped with a 24-21 win Saturday at Steuben Field in the NESCAC opener for both teams.
Chase Rosenberg ’17 threw three touchdown passes in a span of 12 plays in the second half as the Continentals came all the way back to tie the score at 21-21. Hamilton (0-1, 0-1 NESCAC) had the ball first in overtime but failed to score and the Jumbos (1-0, 1-0 NESCAC) kicked a 28-yard field goal on the seventh play of their possession to claim the victory.
Rosenberg moved the hosts to the Tufts 10-yard line on the first play of overtime with a completion to Charles Ensley '17 but the Jumbos pushed Hamilton back five yards when Zach Thomas sacked Rosenberg. After an illegal shift penalty on the Continentals, Sebastian Rivera knocked a pass away from Ensley on third down and the Continentals’ 37-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Tailback Chance Brady carried the ball on three of Tufts’ first four plays in overtime, gaining 13 yards. Hamilton’s Tyler Hudson ’19 brought quarterback Alex Snyder down after a one-yard gain to the 6, then Snyder downed the ball at the 11, setting up Willie Holmquist’s 28-yard game winner.
Rosenberg, who took over at quarterback late in the first half after a roughing the passer infraction knocked Hamilton starter Brandon Tobin ’18 out of the game, matched a career high with 301 passing yards. His yardage total was the program’s fifth-highest single-game mark and he set Hamilton single-game records with 21.5 yards per completion and 13.1 yards per attempt.
The Continental comeback began with just over 20 minutes left in regulation. James Taylor ’17 intercepted a Snyder pass at his own 35 and Hamilton needed just three plays to score their first touchdown of the season. Rosenberg found Patrick Donahoe ’16 for 13 yards, scrambled for two yards to his own 47, then hit Ensley with a long pass down the right sideline for a 53-yard touchdown.
Ensley caught seven passes for 107 yards and Donahoe gained 174 yards on his six catches. They’re the first Continental teammates to ever gain 100 receiving yards in the same game.
After the Jumbos drove to the Continental 19 on their next possession, before a sack by Hamilton’s Brent Lobien '17 (the first of his career) and a delay of game penalty left Tufts with a third-and-19; Mike Miller caught a short pass from Snyder but was stopped by Hamilton cornerback Jimmy Giattino ’17 shy of the first down and the Jumbos missed a 34-yard field goal try.
It took one play for Hamilton to pull to within a score. Donahoe got behind the Tufts defense to catch a pass over the middle from Rosenberg and after shedding a defender at the Jumbo 40, raced the rest of the way to the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown.
The Continentals forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with 10:11 left in the fourth (Taylor and Mickey Keating '17 stopped Joe Byrnes a yard short of the marker on third down) and Rosenberg drove them 72 yards in 10 plays, capping the drive with a play-action pass to tight end Jordan Jenkins ‘17. Hamilton converted a pair of third down plays; Nick Caso ’16 made a 13-yard catch while falling to the ground on a third-and-12 play and fullback Jason Nastovski ’18 bruised through the line for a first down on third-and-one one play before the touchdown. On the scoring play, Rosenberg was hit just as he threw to Jenkins, who was wide open on the left flat and scored his second career touchdown (on just his second career reception).
The Hamilton defense held Tufts to 41 yards on 10 plays over the Jumbos’ final three possessions of regulation, including a three-and-out that gave the Continentals the ball with 95 seconds left at their own 25. A 42-yard catch by Donahoe put the hosts in Tufts territory but they missed a 47-yard field goal one play after the Jumbos’ Matt Stearns broke up a pass intended for Donahoe.
The Jumbos scored on four of their five first-half chances with Brady running for a pair of touchdowns and Holmquist kicking two field goals. Brady, who led all players with 117 rushing yards, capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown on Tufts’ opening possession. Holmquist kicked his first field goal on the Jumbos’ first drive of the second quarter, converting a 43-yard attempt to put the visitors up 10-0.
Tufts scored twice in the final four minutes of the half; Brady ran for a 13-yard touchdown with 2:24 left and running back Dominic Borelli (who ran for 52 yards and caught a pair of passes) threw a conversion pass to Patrick Williams. Two plays later J.P. Garcia intercepted a deflected Hamilton pass to set up Tufts at the Continental 34. The Jumbos’ drive stalled at the 10 but Holmquist’s 28-yard field goal with 1:49 left sent them into intermission with a 21-0 lead.
Hudson led Hamilton’s defense, which allowed just 153 yards and seven first downs after halftime. In his collegiate debut, the defensive end led all players with 15 total stops. His game-high five tackles for loss were two short of Hamilton’s single-game record. Giattino made a career-high 14 tackles (including 11 solo stops), broke up two passes and was in on a pair of tackles for loss.
Matt McCormack made eight tackles to lead Tufts and Williams was in on six.
Snyder threw for 188 yards, completing 13 of 23 passes. Mike Rando was Tufts’ leading receiver with six catches.
The Continentals host Wesleyan Saturday at 1 p.m.