Wild comeback helps football team beat Tufts

Contact: William Sodoma
Date: November 6, 2010
Athletics Preview Photos

Spencer Merwin

MEDFORD, Mass. --- The comeback of Nov. 6, 2010, will go down in the annals of Colby College football after the Mules scored two touchdowns in the final 5:20 of play to pull out a wild 42-41 win over Tufts University at Zimman Field on Saturday.

The Mules have obviously had comebacks in the long history of the program, but not many end the way this one did Saturday. Colby quarterback Nick Kmetz hit tight end Spencer Merwin with no time left on the clock to tie the game at 41-41. Colby kicker David Bendit withstood three straight Tufts timeouts before kicking his sixth extra point of the day for the game-winning point.

Colby  scored the most points in a game since the 2001 season and it was almost not enough. The Mules broke or tied four individual player records and also broke four teams records.

The Mules stand at 4-3 overall and have a three-game winning streak heading into next Saturday's 12:30 p.m. home game with rival Bowdoin College. Colby and Bowdoin will play for the outright Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title after the Polar Bears held on for a 21-20 win over Bates on Saturday.

Tufts drops to 1-6 overall and loses for the second straight week despite scoring 40 points or more. The Jumbos have scored 90 points in two games, only to have an 0-2 record to show for all the offense. Amherst took a 70-49 win over Tufts a week ago.

Colby last scored more than 40 points in a game when the Mules took a 42-0 romp of Bates at home during the 2001 season. The 42 points Saturday is the most Colby has scored in a road game since a 41-13 blowout of Bowdoin in 2001.

While those games nine years ago were easy victories, Colby had to fight for all 60 minutes to knock off Tufts. The Jumbos took a 41-28 lead on a 98-yard drive that ended with the fourth touchdown pass of the day from Anthony Fucillo with 13:19 to play.

Fucillo was intercepted by Ryan Murphy for the only time in the game with 9:09 to play and the turnover sparked Colby's offense. Nick Tucker had the strong rush on Fucillo and tipped the ball.

"We had used most of our coverages in the game," Colby defensive coordinator Tom Dexter said. "Tucker was on a corner blitz on the interception, got a piece of the ball, and Ryan made a nice catch."

The Mules drove 70 yards in 11 plays and used 3:49 off the clock after tight end Nat Carson caught a 16-yard scoring pass from Kmetz with 5:20 to play. Kmetz passed for 57 yards and ran for 13 yards to play a part in all 70 yards of the drive. Bendit, who was 6-for-6 in extra points, converted to make it 41-35.

Tufts had a good kickoff return and started on its own 44-yard line, but Colby's defense stood strong. The Jumbos managed just one yard on three plays and punted to the Mules' 27-yard line with 3:24 to play. Colby middle linebacker Tom Duffy batted down a ball on a 3rd-and-6 play.

Colby had two fourth down conversions on the 17-play drive. Kmetz completed a 15-yard pass to Merwin on a 4th-and-6 play to get the ball into Tufts territory. With just 30 seconds left in the game, Kmetz picked up the lone yard on a 4th-and-1 play to the Jumbo 21-yard line. Kmetz then completed a 9-yard pass to Conor Tidgwell to the Tufts 12 and Patrick Burns caught an 11-yard pass to the one with time ticking down. Merwin caught his third touchdown of the day -- and likely the biggest touchdown of his career -- with no time left.

Kmetz broke records for most total offense in a game, most passes completed in a game, and most passes attempted. The junior quarterback had 473 yards (81 yards rushing) to break the 1984 record of 396 yards by Chip Kispert in another game against Tufts. Kmetz completed 40-of-53 passes for 392 yards to also break Kispert's record of 27 completions against Tufts in 1984 and the attempt record of 51 by Pat Conley against Williams in 2001. Kmetz also went over 3,000 passing yards for his career and stands at 3,184.

Colby set team records for total offense in a game with 608 (the 1984 team had 480 against Tufts), passes completed (27 versus Tufts, 2004), and passes attempted (52 against Williams, 2001). The Mules also broke a 38-year-old team record with an astounding 40 first downs (1972 team had 29 against Maine Maritime Academy).

Besides the big day from Kmetz, Colby had three receivers with nine catches or more and a running back with more than 100 yards and two touchdowns. Connor Walsh tied the school record for catches in game for the second time this year with 11 grabs for 87 yards. Walsh also had 11 catches against Wesleyan earlier this year and David Lane had 11 receptions against Coast Guard in 1972. Patrick Burns finished with nine catches for 115 yards and one touchdown, Merwin had 10 catches for 78 yards and the big score, and Conor Tidgwell capped the biggest game of his career with five catches for 50 yards. Tidgwell also rushed 25 times for 108 yards (4.2 per rush), while Kmetz had 17 carries for 81 yards and a 4.8-yard per rush average.

"Kmetz was just spectacular today, especially on the final two drives," Dexter said. "It was quite a game and we had great support. We had a lot of former players, alumni, and all the families of the players. It was a great crowd of Colby people."

While Fucillo threw for 359 yards, Tufts managed just 50 yards of rushing on 18 carries. Murphy had a team-best seven tackles to go along with the interception. Richard Newton added five tackles.

Colby 42, Tufts 41

Colby............... 7 14 7 14 - 42     

Tufts............... 13 15 7 6 - 41     

Scoring Summary:

1st 08:39 COLFB10 - Conor Tidgwell 4 yd run (David Bendit kick), 10-75 4:37, COLFB10 7 - TUF 0

     04:33 TUF - G. Stewart 29 yd pass from A. Fucillo (A. Auerbach kick), 6-52 1:34, COLFB10 7 - TUF 7

     02:55 TUF - P. Bailey 3 yd pass from A. Fucillo (A. Auerbach kick failed), 4-27 0:52, COLFB10 7 - TUF 13

2nd 14:54 COLFB10 - Ian Borthwick 1 yd run (David Bendit kick), 7-60 3:01, COLFB10 14 - TUF 13

     09:37 COLFB10 - Conor Tidgwell 1 yd run (David Bendit kick), 9-71 3:39, COLFB10 21 - TUF 13

     08:25 TUF - P. Nee 37 yd pass from A. Fucillo (P. Bailey pass from A. Fucillo), 5-57 1:12, COLFB10 21 - TUF 21

     04:11 TUF - P. Bailey 2 yd run (A. Auerbach kick), 5-54 1:03, COLFB10 21 - TUF 28

3rd 10:52 COLFB10 - Patrick Burns 4 yd pass from Nick Kmetz (David Bendit kick), 8-58 4:08, COLFB10 28 - TUF 28

     08:57 TUF - P. Bailey 3 yd run (A. Auerbach kick), 6-60 1:55, COLFB10 28 - TUF 35

4th 13:19 TUF - G. Stewart 11 yd pass from A. Fucillo (A. Auerbach kick blockd), 17-98 4:30, COLFB10 28 - TUF 41

     05:20 COLFB10 - Nat Carson 16 yd pass from Nick Kmetz (David Bendit kick), 11-70 3:49, COLFB10 35 - TUF 41

     00:00 COLFB10 - Spencer Merwin 1 yd pass from Nick Kmetz (David Bendit kick), 17-73 3:24, COLFB10 42 - TUF 41

                                 COLFB10     TUF

FIRST DOWNS...................      40      22

RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............  52-216   18-50

PASSING YDS (NET).............     392     359

Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 55-40-1 44-29-1

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 107-608  62-409

Fumble Returns-Yards..........     0-0     0-0

Punt Returns-Yards............     1-4    2-17

Kickoff Returns-Yards.........    4-45   6-143

  Interception Returns-Yards....     1-5    1-29

Punts (Number-Avg)............  2-35.0  3-28.3

Fumbles-Lost..................     2-1     0-0

Penalties-Yards...............    4-26    3-40

Possession Time...............   41:28   18:32

Third-Down Conversions........ 11 of 17  4 of 9

Fourth-Down Conversions.......  3 of 4  1 of 1

Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......     6-8     4-4

Sacks By: Number-Yards........     1-4     2-8

RUSHING: Colby-Conor Tidgwell 25-106; Nick Kmetz 17-81; Spencer Gopaul 7-22; Ian

Borthwick 2-4; Connor Walsh 1-3. Tufts-P. Bailey 12-38; A. Fucillo 5-13; M.

Murray 1-minus 1.

PASSING: Colby-Nick Kmetz 40-53-1-392; TEAM 0-1-0-0; Patrick Burns 0-1-0-0.

Tufts-A. Fucillo 29-44-1-359.

RECEIVING: Colby-Connor Walsh 11-87; Spencer Merwin 10-78; Patrick Burns 9-115;

Conor Tidgwell 5-50; Nat Carson 2-36; Spencer Gopaul 2-22; Andrew Graham 1-4.

Tufts-P. Bailey 10-80; P. Nee 7-135; G. Stewart 4-76; D. Haas 4-40; B. Mahler

3-16; J. Sobo 1-12.

INTERCEPTIONS: Colby-Ryan Murphy 1-5. Tufts-A. Gresham 1-29.

FUMBLES: Colby-Conor Tidgwell 1-1; Nick Kmetz 1-0. Tufts-None.

Stadium: Zimman Field. Attendance: 1037.

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