The Comets started 2016 trying to put the legacy of a winless season to bed.
They ended their fall run on a 3-7 record, capped Friday by a 37-14 Senior Night victory over Southwestern Conference rival Lakewood.
Amherst never trailed in the game, thanks mostly to a rabid Mark Harris-led defense. Harris harried Rangers quarterback Austin Mahar throughout the evening, picking him off twice as the Comets forced five turnovers.
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Johnny Matakovich got the game rolling with a 78-yard touchdown pass to Alec Platz in the opening four minutes.
A Harris interception set up a three-yard Jeremy Smith run to score, putting Amherst up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Feeding on that energy, sophomore Christian Velez picked up a safety and Khennedy Scagliozzo added another seven with a 28-yard jaunt to send the Comets to the locker room up 23-0 at the half.
Responding to a Rangers rally that included a two-point conversion, Smith carried the ball 10 yards to cross the line in the middle of the third, making it 30-8.
Scagliozzo sealed it for Amherst on a push from five yards out as the fourth quarter closed. Lakewood went on to score again but facing a big deficit and chills, the game was called with 21 seconds on the clock.
Matakovich wrapped the season with a .500 completion average on 162 attempts, racking up 1,332 yards and eight touchdowns.
Scagliozzo came close to matching that on the ground, leading rushers with 1,199 yards on 192 carries. Smith chipped in 265 yards for an average of 6.31 per carry, slightly besting Scagliozzo’s 6.25-yard average. The two vied for the TD lead in 2016, with Smith picking up 12 (10 on the ground and two in the air) and Scagliozzo crossing the goal line 14 times (12 on the ground and two in the air).
Senior Adam Haas quietly put together a 118-yard season on 45 carries. All Matakovich put up 22 PATs and Ryan Sturgeon added six more.
Defensively, the Comets registered 18 sacks and eight interceptions with a cumulative 409 tackles and 362 assists. Harris and Smith had the lion’s share, along with junior Parker Hunter. Nathan Soto and Matt Lee were also key players throughout the season.
Photos by Randy Meyers | Amherst News-Times Amherst running back Khennedy Scagliozzo picks up a block from Jeremy Smith and runs for a big gain during the third quarter on Friday.