After an 0-2 start against perennial NESCAC powers Middlebury and Amherst, the football team was in need of a serious spark to get their first win.
Junior running back Zach Donnarumma was able to provide just that last Saturday.
In his first game back from a bout with mononucleosis, the New Jersey native rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries on Saturday to lead the Polar Bears to a 17-10 home victory over Tufts.
“Due to school protocol, once you’re diagnosed with mono you have to sit out for three weeks before being reevaluated. This week they said I was good to go,” said Donnarumma. “It was fun being out on the practice field and the game field with everyone again.”
The speedy Greg Pierce ’13 had been handling the bulk of the carries for the Polar Bears after converting from playing defensive back in the preseason. Pierce has played well, including a 76 yard, one touchdown performance against the stingy front-seven of the Amherst Lord Jeffs. 
When Pierce left the game in need of stitches in Saturday’s second quarter, Donnarumma found the offense placed squarely on his shoulders.
“I told him ‘alright, Zach. You’ve been out for a month. We want to get you going early but we’re not going run you into the ground, so look for 10-15 carries.’ Funny how it works out, he ended up with 32 carries. He can do it, he’s done it in the past,” said Kyle Duncan ’12, the team running backs coach.
Donnarumma led the Polar Bears in rushing yards and touchdowns in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns, and is a likely candidate to repeat this feat this year as well.
“This wasn’t his first rodeo. He’s played a lot of football for us. So having him come back as a veteran guy who understands our offense, understands how and when blocking schemes develop is important,” said Head Coach Dave Caputi.
“Zach coming back is a big boost for us. He’s a north-south physical back, a real hard-running guy who we’re comfortable with. We’ll run power a few more times when we have Zach in,” added Duncan.
Donnarumma agrees, noting that he and Pierce will form a formidable two-back attack when they both are on the field full time.
“I’m not a shifty back. I have a little bit of speed but I’m a downhill, power runner. Greg is faster and he moves side to side very well. He’ll make you miss. I’ll just go through you. It’s a good contrast of style,” he said.
Donnarumma says he has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“I hope we don’t lose another game for the rest of the year. Is it realistic? I think it’s realistic. In the NESCAC any team can beat any team. Personally I can’t ask for anything more than to stay healthy and to get some carries, and hopefully some yards and TDs.”