Underdog Ephs Stun Amherst 48-46 With a Late Field Goal by a Placekicker Kicking In His First Football Game

Underdog Ephs Stun Amherst 48-46 With a Late Field Goal by a Placekicker Kicking In His First Football Game

Over the years there have been many exciting Eph wins over the Lord Jeffs of Amherst and now the Amherst Mammoths, but the 1997 win stands out due to all of the improbable plays, it being the second conscutive upset of a heavily favored an undefeated Amherst team, and the performance of an unlikely hero who was "discovered" only the week before. 

10 Reasons Why the 1997 Eph Football Win Over Amherst Was The Greatest Ever by the Ephs in the First 134 games in the storied "Biggest Little Game in America" rivalry. 

1. Amherst entered the game undefeated and fired up to avenge a season-ending loss at home to Williams in 1996 that denied the Lord Jeffs a perfect season when the Ephs drove 98 yards on their final possession to win 19-13.

2. Through their first seven games in 1997 Amherst had allowed just three first half points and a total of 45 points and at the half in Williamstown, Williams led the Lord Jeffs 24-14!

3. Williams had lost the week before at Wesleyan 28-14 and Amherst had drilled that same Wesleyan team 36-14.

4. Williams had gone 17 consecutive games without successfully kicking a field goal entering the Amherst game. 

5. The week before the Amherst game the Ephs "discovered" a freshman field goal kicker at practice. "Discovered" because the freshman had been a high school quarterback and was recruited to play wide receiver. The "discovered" kicker had NEVER kicked a point in a football game in his life until the day of the Amherst game.

6. Amherst stunned the Ephs late in the fourth quarter when they scored a touchdown and trailed Williams 45-44 with just over a minute to play. The 45 points by the Ephs equaled all of the points surrendered by the Amherst defense that season in the previous 7 games. Lining up for the point after touchdown the holder for the Amherst kicker caught the snap with both knees off the ground and threw a 2-point conversion pass to a wide open receiver to give Amherst a 46-45 lead!

7. Facing a fourth and fifteen on their own 25-yard line Eph quarterback Peter Supino hit wide receiver Matt Sigrist with a pass over the middle and with Sigrist's run and an Amherst penalty the Ephs moved to the Amherst 35-yard line. 

8. On the next play Supino executed a quarteback draw and ran to the Amherst 13-yeard line.

9. On the day Supino out rushed Amherst's leading ball carrier and he scored two touchdowns.

10. With 7 seconds showing on the clock Collin Vataha drilled a 27-yard field goal to give the Ephs an improbable but satisfying 48-46 win and denied Amherst a perfect season for the second year in a row! On the day Collin Vataha made all six of his point after touchdown kicks and made all three field goals he attempted.

With the win the Ephs' Dick Farley who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006 extended his unbeaten streak versus Amherst to 11 games (10-0-1) and Farley would go 13 years before losing to Amherst, which is all the more impressive when you know that Amherst had defeated Williams six consrcutive times beefore Farley became the Ephs' head coach. His overall record versus the Lord Jeffs was 14-2-1.

With a 33-9 win over Amherst in Williamstown in 2019 Williams now leads the all-time series 73-56-5.

Highlights from 1997 NESN Telecast






Read more about this game in the chapter from Ted Mandell's book, Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys, and listen to the call of the game-winning kick from WCFM delivered by Steve Epstein '83 (NYC lawyer), Jason Hehir '98 (Director of ESPN's The Last Dance) and Matt Marvin '98 (Director of NASCAR and the National Hockey League on NBC Sports) --  HERE. 

Discovered rookie placekicker Collin Vataha delivers the game-winning field goal

as holder Graham McPhail spots the .ball.

Eph head coach Dick Farley is in the center of the photo wearing a blue jacket and black hat.



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