Ganter '19 sacks Tufts QB in end zone for safety in football loss

Photo by Josh McKee
Photo by Josh McKee

Tufts University quarterback Ryan McDonald tied a program record with four rushing touchdowns and lifted the Jumbos to a 29-2 NESCAC win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Hamilton's Steuben Field on a steamy mid-September Saturday afternoon.

McDonald is the sixth Tufts player to rush for four scores in a game and the first since Chance Brady did it in 2016. He finished with 98 yards rushing and was 15 of 26 passing for 99 yards. Saturday's contest was the season opener for both teams.

Mike Pedrini racked up 68 yards on the ground on just nine carries for the Jumbos, who outgained the Continentals 316-163. The Tufts defense forced four turnovers, posted six sacks, and limited Hamilton to negative-11 rushing yards. Greg Holt had two of those sacks and finished with eight tackles. Tylor Scales, Tim Preston and Alex LaPiana intercepted one pass each.

Kenny Gray '20 was 18 of 42 with 158 passing yards for Hamilton. Will Budington '21 had six receptions for a career-high 117 yards including a 54-yard catch-and-run on third down and 21 from the Continentals' 1-yard line. Billy Wagner '20, who was on the all-conference first team last year for special teams, averaged 42.2 yards on nine punts and pinned three of them inside the Jumbos' 20. Sean Tolton '19, Cole Burchill '19, Sam Bowen '20, Jared Schwartz '22 and Alex Ganter '19 were credited with seven tackles each.

Matt Alswanger gave Tufts a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal with 8:43 left in the first quarter. Three plays after the Jumbos' Mark Mastrog forced and recovered a fumble at the Hamilton 21 on a punt return, McDonald rolled left, scrambled 18 yards and dove into the end zone. Alswanger's extra point sailed wide right and Tufts held a 9-0 lead with 4:55 remaining.

McDonald capped an 11-play, 67-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown on a designed draw up the middle out of the shotgun formation. A bad snap on the PAT led to another missed kick and the Jumbos led 15-0 just 54 seconds into the second quarter. Tufts took that 15-point cushion into the locker room at the half.

The Continentals scored their only points with 10:34 to go in the third quarter when Ganter sacked McDonald in the end zone for a safety. Ganter ended up with two tackles for loss and broke up a pass.

McDonald scored from 32 yards out on another draw play right up the gut with 4:00 left in the third and the extra point made it 22-2. His 9-yard run with 13:20 remaining in the fourth quarter completed the scoring. On McDonald's fourth and final touchdown he rolled right, escaped a tackle in the backfield, and scampered into the end zone.

Hamilton travels to Amherst for its next game on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. while the Jumbos host Wesleyan under the lights next Saturday at 6 p.m.