AMHERST, MA — Amherst College (6-2) quarterback Max Lippe ran two yards with 10:08 remaining in the fourth quarter to lift the Lord Jeffs over archrival Williams College (4-4) 23-20 in the last game to be played on the current configuration of Pratt Field.
The Lippe score marked the first time Amherst led in the contest.
The win by Amherst was their 51st in the series, which Williams now leads 71-51-5. It also marked the first time Amherst had defeated Williams in back-to-back seasons since 1986-87.
The Lord Jeffs trailed the Ephs after the first three quarters, 20-10, before scoring 13 unanswered points in the final quarter.
Eph WR Darren Hartwell notched the first points in the contest at 11:39 of the first quarter when he out jumped an Amherst defensive back to haul in a 39-yard pass from Tom Murphy in the end zone. Joe Mallock's PAT gave Williams an early 7-0 lead.
"Darren's always been a force for us," explained Head Coach Aaron Kelton. "In establishing that early on today, we were able to put ourselves in a good spot."
Amherst's first points came after a fumble by Eph running back Tom Wohlwender who had the ball jarred loose by Lou Jacoubs. The fumble was recovered by Amherst's Sam Clark on the midfield stripe. The 50-yard, eight-play Amherst scoring drive was capped by a Lippe two-yard run. Jake Schmidt's successful PAT tied the game, 7-7, at the 8:16 mark of the opening quarter.
Darren Hartwell's 33-yard punt return to the Amherst 28 set up the Ephs' second TD. On the first play from scrimmage Alex Scyocurka picked up six yards on a run and then followed that up with another six-yard run, putting the ball on the 16 and giving the Ephs a first down.
On the next play Eph QB Tom Murphy ran to the right and when he received pressure pitched the ball back to running back Marco Hernandez who lofted a high pass towards the end zone, where the athletic Hartwell went up between two defenders to catch his second TD pass of the game. Mallock's PAT gave the Ephs a 14-7 lead with 3:05 left in the first quarter.
Amherst was the next to score when Jake Schmidt nailed a 40-yard field goal at 10:04 of the second quarter, capping off an 8-play, drive.
The Schmidt field goal was matched by the Ephs' Joe Mallock when Mallock knocked home a 37-yarder with 5:12 left in the half.
The Ephs held a 17-10 lead at intermission.
It was Mallock who tallied the only points in the third quarter when he was true with a 20-yard field goal attempt at 11:41, booting the Eph lead to 20-10.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Amherst narrowed the Eph lead to 20-17 when Lippe connected on an 8-yard pass to James Durham, closing out an 80-yard, 8-play drive and Schmidt added the PAT.
The final score of the contest came with just over 10 minutes remaining. Facing a fourth and nine from their own 46 Amherst was forced to punt. The snap back to Will Brewster bounced on the ground, but Brewster was able to get a foot on the ball and send it 12 yards down the field. The Ephs were flagged for roughing the kicker when Steven Kiesel's dive to block the punt resulted in him landing on Brewster without having touched the ball.
Four plays later Lippe scampered two yards to pay dirt but the PAT by Schmidt was wide to the right and Amherst had a 3-point lead to protect, 23-20, which they did with some excellent clock management and a strong ground game.
"We were able to get momentum early with some key field positions and big momentum from our key guys like Darren [Hartwell] and Alex [Scyocurka]," said Kelton. "We put ourselves in great position with that 10-point lead, and the game up until then was something to be proud of."
"We stalled a little bit and they really sensed that and took advantage," Kelton noted."
After Amherst's go-ahead TD Darren Hartwell returned the kickoff 40 yards to the Amherst 40 giving the Ephs a spark. On the first play Alex Scyocurka broke off a 21-yard run and the Ephs had a first down on the Amherst 19.
A loss of 4 yards on the next run and an offensive pass interference call pushed the ball back to the 38. An incomplete pass and a 9-yard run by Scyocurka left Joe Mallock with a 47-yard field goal attempt. Mallock's boot was long enough, but it just curled wide of the left upright and the Lord Jeffs escaped without giving up any points.
"I believe in him and we we're always going to lean on him when we're in these situations," said Kelton of the team's faith in Mallock's long-range performance. "He's good and he'll just get better in these crunch-time scenarios."
Amherst then registered a 14-play drive that found them on the Eph 10 with a fourth and seven. Eschewing the field goal attempt on fourth down, because they did not want to kick to Hartwell if the kick was good, Amherst gave up the ball on the Ephs 10 with an incomplete pass. Williams was left with 90 yards to go to score a TD and 70 to get in field goal range and had just 92 seconds to score.
Murphy hit on two passes to Richie Beaton to get first downs, but on his third pass attempt he was hit and knocked out of the game. Adam Marske replaced Murphy and he promptly connected with Jeff Brewington for 13 more yards.
Marske's next two passes were incomplete and then Amherst DB Jaymie Spears settled the matter when he picked off a Marske pass in front of the Eph bench with just 24 seconds remaining.
Williams gained 343 yards in 64 plays, with 143 on the ground and 200 in the air. The Lord Jeffs totaled 407 from 80 plays, 177 on rushes and 230 off pass-plays.
Sean Wilson had 21 carries and 127 yards for the Lord Jeffs, while Alex Scyocurka completed 25 runs for 135 yards. "I thought he [Scyocurka] did a really good job with the run game," Kelton said. "He's the kind of guy who needs those touches, so we made sure he got them."
Tom Murphy connected on 13 of 26 pass attempts for 179 yards and one touchdown. Max Lippe connected on 12 of 21 for 153 yards and a touchdown and Jonathon Pieterse was successful 5 of 8 times for a 77-yard total. Hartwell caught 6 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns while Durham snagged in 7 passes for 39 yards and had a single trip to the end zone.
"I feel bad about not winning the game for these seniors, it being their last game and all," Kelton said. "But I am really excited about our young players and the opportunity they've had to play, see the atmosphere and be a part of it. We've got a great team and we'll be able to raise hell in years to come, in this rivalry and beyond."
Finishing at 4-4 on the year, the Ephs have now gone 26 consecutive years without a losing season.