SOMERVILLE, Mass. --- Colby College senior Ryan Veillette is known in the New England Small College Athletic Conference as the sacks leader of the league, but Saturday he showed some offensive skill in the Mules' 21-14 overtime victory over Tufts University in football action at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field.
Veillette, a two-time All-NESCAC defensive end, lined up as the lone running back in overtime at the Tufts' 3-yard line. He took the handoff from quarterback Justin Ciero, ran to his right, and tossed a pass to a wide open Derrick Beasley to put the Mules on top 21-14 after an important extra point by Louw Scheepers. Beasley, an All-NESCAC defensive back, caught his third touchdown of the season while playing both ways for the Mules.
Colby moves to 2-5 overall heading into next Saturday's season-ending home game with rival Bowdoin College at 12:30 p.m. The Polar Bears lost 14-6 on Saturday to Bates College, allowing the Bobcats to win the coveted Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title. Tufts (0-7) had its losing streak, dating back to the 2010 season, extended to 22 straight games.
Veillette and Beasley stayed on the field to help Colby's defense after the trick play. After a 10-yard run by Tufts to get a first down, Veillette made the tackle on a 1-yard gain by the Jumbos. Colby linebacker Mark Vargas tipped a pass away on the Jumbos' second down play. The Mules then forced two incomplete passes on third and fourth down to earn the victory.
Colby rushed for 256 yards on the day, with 166 coming from first-year quarterback Justin Ciero on 22 carries (7.5 yards per carry). Spencer Gopaul added 84 yards on 20 rushes (4.2 yards per carry). Ciero also threw for 118 yards and one touchdown on 14 completions.
Saturday's game started like it might be a wild shootout, with both squads scoring on their opening possession. Tufts sophomore running back Zack Trause, who had to leave the game in the second half with an injury, had 45 yards rushing and one catch for 11 yards on the opening drive and scored on a 7-yard run with 9:54 left in the opening quarter.
The Mules started their drive at their own 25-yard line and needed just four plays to go 75 yards to knot the score at 7-7. Ciero had a 52-yard run on the first Colby offensive play, ran for 18 yards on the second play, and then watched Gopaul go 2 yards to the Tufts' 3-yard line. Ciero ran in from 3 yards out for the score on the fourth play.
Colby's defense helped set up the second touchdown by the Mules for a 14-7 lead with just 1:11 left in the second quarter. Mule defensive back Daniel Maddox intercepted a pass at his team's 35-yard line and raced 32 yards on the return to the 33-yard line of the Jumbos.
Five plays later, Ciero found Indigo Dow for a 15-yard scoring pass and it appeared the Mules might take a lead into halftime.
Dylan Haas of Tufts had other ideas when he returned the Colby kickoff from his team's own 18-yard line to the Colby 48-yard line. The Jumbos wisely used all three timeouts during the drive and received a big 28-yard pass play from quarterback John Dodds to wide receiver Jack Cooleen to the Colby 12-yard line. Haas added a 9-yard grab to the Mules' 3-yard line and then caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Dodds with 23 seconds to play to forge a 14-14 halftime tie.
Neither team could manage much offense in the second half. Tufts missed (wide left) a field goal attempt from 26 yards out with 8:32 left in the third quarter. With 2:06 left in the fourth quarter, the Mules missed on a 33-yard attempt (wide right).
With 2:06 still to play and the ball at their own 20-yard line, Tufts threw an incomplete pass on first down and then decided on two straight rushes to get the first down without calling a timeout. With time winding down, Colby linebacker Gabe Salzer had a blindside blitz on Dodds and forced a fumble that the Jumbos' Nick Kenyon recovered on his own 19-yard line. Tufts decided not to run another play and settled for overtime.
Overtime rules give each team the ball at the opponent's 25-yard line for at least one possession. Gopaul had a rush for 4 yards and Ciero went 5 yards to set up a big 3rd-and-1 at the Tufts' 16-yard line. Gopaul took the handoff and found room on the right side and nearly broke the play for a touchdown before getting tripped up at the 3-yard line. Colby ran Gopaul up the middle on first down for no gain before Veillette and Beasley teamed up on their big play.
Maddox had the big interception and also led Colby with eight tackles. Tony Atkinson forced one fumble and made seven stops for the Mules. Jason Buco had his fifth interception of the season and made six tackles, while Salzer joined Lester Batiste and Zach Padula with five tackles apiece.
Tommy Meade led all tacklers with 12 for Tufts and Sean Harrington made 10 stops for the Jumbos. Sam Diss had two sacks and six tackles in a losing cause.
Colby 21, Tufts 14, OT
Colby............... 7 7 0 0 7 - 21
Tufts............... 7 7 0 0 0 - 14
1st 09:54 TUF - Z. Trause 7 yd run (C. McDavitt kick)
08:26 COLFB12 - Justin Ciero 3 yd run (Louw Scheepers kick)
2nd 01:11 COLFB12 - Indigo Dow 15 yd pass from Justin Ciero (Louw Scheepers kick)
00:23 TUF - D. Haas 3 yd pass from J. Dodds (C. McDavitt kick)
OT 00:00 COLFB12 - Derrick Beasley 3 yd pass from Ryan Veillette (Louw Scheepers kick)
FIRST DOWNS................... 15 17
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 43-256 36-124
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 121 180
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 26-15-1 30-18-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 69-377 66-304
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-37 4-33
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 3-47 2-53
Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-32 1-5
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 6-35.0 4-43.8
Fumbles-Lost.................. 0-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards............... 10-70 3-25
Possession Time............... 33:59 41:01
Third-Down Conversions........ 8 of 17 6 of 14
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 1 0 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 2-4 2-5
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-7 2-16
RUSHING: Colby-Justin Ciero 22-166; Spencer Gopaul 20-84; Jason Buco 1-6.
Tufts-Z. Trause 20-75; J. Weaver 8-25; M. Howell 1-18; D. Haas 1-10; M. Pitre
3-4; J. Dodds 3-minus 8.
PASSING: Colby-Justin Ciero 14-25-1-118; Ryan Veillette 1-1-0-3. Tufts-J. Dodds
RECEIVING: Colby-Michael Lahiff 4-22; Spencer Gopaul 3-19; Derrick Beasley 2-29;
Indigo Dow 2-16; Thomas Brewster 2-12; Kyle Roth 1-13; Jason Buco 1-10. Tufts-M.
Finnegan 4-39; J. Weaver 4-31; D. Haas 3-21; Z. Trause 3-14; N. Kenyon 2-42; J.
INTERCEPTIONS: Colby-Daniel Maddox 1-32; Jason Buco 1-0. Tufts-W. Hartmann 1-5.
FUMBLES: Colby-None. Tufts-S. Diss 1-0; J. Dodds 1-0.