MEDFORD, MA – After an exciting and touchdown-heavy first half, the Tufts University Jumbos (3-2) were able to outlast the Williams College Ephs (1-4), wining by a score of 27-20.
The first half of the game saw the majority of points scored and yards gained, and it was in this half that both teams relied heavily on their quarterbacks: Jack Doll for Tufts and Austin Lommen for Williams.
The Ephs were able to strike first. Williams marched down the field 71 yards on the strength of Lommen's arm on a drive featuring two big catches by Alex Way and capped by a 16-yard rollout screen pass to Steven Kiesel for a touchdown.
The Ephs forced a three-and-out on Tufts' next drive, but on their ensuing drive, Austin Lommen botched a handoff to Alex Scyocurka resulting in a fumble that was returned 31 yards for a Jumbo touchdown by James Brao, quickly knotting the game at 7.
Williams, however, was able to answer immediately. The Jumbos attempted a squib kick to neutralize the Ephs' return threat, Connor Harris, but this trickery backfired when first-year running back Greg Plumb fielded the kick and returned it to the Williams 46-yard line. From there, Lommen led the Ephs to pay dirt. He favored WR Darrias Sime on this drive, who came up with a clutch 16-yard reception on 3rd down and also the go-ahead 6-yard touchdown catch. Eph K Joe Mallock was unable to convert the PAT, however, leaving the score at 13-7 with 1:25 remaining in the 1st quarter.
Following an impressive kickoff return by Jumbo Zack Trause, Tufts pushed into Williams territory, but the Williams defense forced a 4th down attempt at the 44-yard line. Despite only having to gain around 3 inches for the first down, Jumbo RB Chance Brady was stuffed in the backfield by Eph LB Johnny Bond, forcing a turnover on downs. The Ephs were not able to take advantage of the stop, however, as the very first play of their ensuing possession resulted in an interception by Michael Defeo.
The Jumbos were able to utilize this takeaway. QB Jack Doll connected with WR Jack Cooleen on a 18-yard catch that set up a screen pass to Zack Trause at the Williams 25-yard line. After catching the short pass, Trause cut through the Eph defense like a knife through warm butter all the way into the end zone. After Zack Thomas nailed the PAT, the Jumbos found themselves with a 1-point lead with 12:37 to go in the half.
The Ephs were unable to get anything going on their next drive and were forced to punt. A string of completions to Jumbo WR Harrison Kidd put Tufts in opposing territory, but a strong rush defense forced a 4th and 4 for the Jumbos. Tufts attempted a fake punt, with Joe Nault dropping back to pass, but his throw was batted down and intercepted by Elijah Eaton, giving the ball to the Ephs at the Tufts 44-yard line.
The Ephs were unable to take advantage, however, and turned the ball over on downs. On 2nd and 12 for the Jumbos, Doll found WR Jack Cooleen wide open in the middle of the field, and Cooleen took the ball 68 yards all the way to the Williams 5-yard line before being chased down by Taysean Scott. Two plays later, Doll completed a touchdown pass to Zack Trause. A bad snap on the extra point try held the Jumbo advantage to 7, 20-13.
Despite a 38-yard play-action pass to Alex Way that put the Ephs in the redzone, Williams was unable to come out of the drive with any points following a clutch 3rd down sack by James Brao. The half ended with the score 20-13.
Neither team achieved a first down on the ground in the entire first half, with both the Ephs and Jumbos averaging only 1.4 yards per carry. However, they made up for this deficit with very effective passing games, averaging over ten yards per pass play.
Williams received the second half kickoff but was unable to convert it into points, and Joe Mallock's punt went into the end zone for a touchback. Apparently, Tufts head coach Joe Civetti emphasized the run game in his locker room speech, and his team did not disappoint. On just the third play of the second half, Jumbo RB Zack Trause slipped up the middle and ran 60 yards up to the Williams 12-yard line before being brought down by Josh Helmkamp. Jack Doll found WR Greg Lanzillo in the end zone on the very next play, extending the Jumbo lead to 14 with the addition of the extra point.
Neither team was able to score for the rest of the third quarter and most of the fourth. In fact, Williams only gained one first down before putting together a scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.
After a sub-par punt gave him the ball at the Tufts 39-yard line, Austin Lommen completed a 16-yard pass to Lewis Hayes and then executed a double-reverse to Connor Harris and then to Mark Pomella, who completed a 13-yard pass downfield to Harris. A dump pass to Scyocurka netted 12 more yards, setting up an 8-yard touchdown pass to Steven Kiesel several plays later. Mallock converted the PAT, bringing the Ephs within 7 with 5:22 left in regulation.
The Ephs needed a stop on defense to preserve any hope of getting the ball back, but a pair of 9-yard completions to Zack Trause and Ben Berey and a steady rushing attack by Chance Brady eliminated that hope. The Jumbos punted the ball with 14 seconds on the clock giving Williams no chance to put together a last-minute drive; time expired with Tufts on top, 27-20.
Jack Doll had himself a very impressive day passing for the Jumbos, completing 88% of his passes (21-24) on his way to 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. Doll's favorite target was Zack Trause, who registered 7 completions for 58 yards receiving, while Jack Cooleen led the Jumbos in receiving yardage, with 102 on 4 catches. Chance Brady and Zack Trause split the Tufts rushing attack almost straight down the middle, with Brady recording 71 yards on 21 carries and Trause notching 70 yards on 15 touches. Trause also made appearances at quarterback, completing all four of his passes.
For the Ephs, Austin Lommen went 24-39 (62%) for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus one interception. Alex Scyocurka led the Eph rushing attack, recording 45 yards on 18 carries, averaging only 2.5 yards per carry. Steven Kiesel caught 10 passes, including two in the end zone, on his way to 69 receiving yards, while Alex Way led the Ephs in receiving yardage with 77 on 6 receptions.
Jumbo LB Matt McCormack led all tacklers with 15, while James O'Grady led the Ephs with 11. Johnny Bond came up big for Williams with 2 clutch tackles in the backfield, while James Brao, in addition to the fumble recovery for a touchdown, had a hand in two very timely sacks in the second half. Michael DeFeo recorded an interception for the Jumbos, while Tom Cabarle and Elijah Eaton did the same for Williams.
Next week, Williams will travel to Hamilton to take on the Continentals, while Tufts will try to defeat the Lord Jeffs at Amherst.