CLINTON, NY – The Williams College Ephs (2-4) took an early lead and never relinquished it, defeating the Hamilton College Continentals (0-6) by a score of 21-14.
The Ephs held Hamilton scoreless for the first three quarters of play, but the Continentals were able to put together two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to make it a close game. Williams, however, was able to hold on, in the process snapping their four-game losing streak.
Hamilton almost scored on the first drive of the game, marching down the field all the way to the Williams 8-yard line, but Eph LB James O'Grady forced a fumble which was recovered by Eph tri-captain Tom Cabarle, cutting short what had been a promising drive for the Continentals.
Neither team was able to do much offensively on the next few drives. After a Williams punt, Hamilton took over at their own 19. On the first play of the drive, however, Hamilton WR Pat Donadio fumbled, and Eph Mike Davis pounced on the ball, giving Williams excellent field position.
After a short pass to Steven Kiesel and a rush up the middle by Jean-Luc Etienne, QB Austin Lommen hit Etienne on a swing pass out of the backfield. Utilizing his quickness, Etienne sped into the end zone before any Hamilton defender could catch him, putting the Ephs up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The very first play of the ensuing Hamilton drive turned disastrous for the Continentals. QB Chase Rosenberg handed the ball off to Amman Weaver, who, instead of running, tried to loft a deep pass down the field. The trickery backfired, and Tom Cabarle came down with the interception at the Hamilton 42-yard line.
Following the score, neither team was able to even cross midfield on offense until the final drive of the half, when Hamilton made a rather serious incursion into Williams territory, driving as far as the 24-yard line. However, James Howe and Ellis Eaton sacked Rosenburg on 2nd down, and a long pass on third down was dropped. Stuck just outside of field goal range and with time expiring, Rosenburg heaved a Hail Mary to the end zone, but it was picked off by Tom Cabarle as the clock hit zero.
Early in the 3rd quarter, it looked as if Hamilton woud finally get on the board after Continental LB Cade Larabee picked off Lommen and returned the ball to the Williams 7-yard line. However, despite two chances from literally inches away from the goal line, Hamilton was unable to penetrate the Williams goal line defense, and they turned the ball over on downs within the one-yard line.
Eph head coach Aaron Kelton called this stop "a key play, extremely important." He added, "We were able to take all of their momentum away and turn it around. I was very proud of our red zone defense throughout the game."
Not daunted by the terrible field position, Lommen first hit Steven Kiesel with a 33-yard pass and then connected with Darrias Sime downfield for a 34-yard completion, catapulting the Ephs to the Hamilton 34-yard line in just two plays. After a roughing-the-passer penalty put the ball on the 14, Lommen connected with Kiesel again, who was able to juke his way into the end zone for a 14-yard TD reception. A 2-point conversion was successful, making the score a clean 21-0 with 4:43 left in the 3rd quarter.
Hamilton was, at last, able to respond with a scoring drive of their own. RB LaShawn Ware ran from his own 30-yard line through a gaping hole in the defense all the way to the Williams 42. The Continentals kept hammering away on the ground, until a sweep play to Amman Weaver finally found pay dirt, putting Hamilton on the scoreboard at the top of the 4th quarter.
The Continentals forced a Williams punt and, due to a personal foul by Williams, started their next drive at their own 40. A sack on 2nd down by Josh Helmkamp forced 3rd and 15, but LaShawn Ware showcased his speed and athleticism on a screen pass, slipping and sliding through Williams tacklers to convert the first down. A consistent and balanced offensive attack put the Continentals on the 3-yard line, and QB Chase Rosenberg walked into the end zone untouched on a very convincing play-action rush.
Thus the score was 21-14 with 4:20 left in the game, and Hamilton opted to attempt an onside kick. Despite a very well-executed kick by Zach Altneu, Williams recovered the ball at their own 43-yard line. Hamilton's defense held strong, however, and Williams was forced to punt. In a bit of trickery, the Ephs pretended to go for it on 4th down while the Continentals were lined up in punt formation, forcing Hamilton to use their final timeout.
After the punt, Williams relied on their pass defense, who came up big. They forced incomplete passes on 2nd and 3rd downs, and sacked Rosenberg on 4th down with 2:35 left in the game, putting an end to Hamilton's last real chanceat a comeback. Austin Lommen knelt three times to run down the clock as much as possible, since Hamilton had no timeouts, and none of Rosenberg's Hail Mary's were completed. Time expired with the score 21-14 in Williams' favor.
Austin Lommen completed 23 of his 33 passes (70%) of 234 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Jean-Luc Etienne led the Ephs' ground attack, registering 39 yards on 7 carries, and Steven Kiesel led Williams receivers with 62 yards on 5 catches, including one for a touchdown.
Chase Rosenberg went 19-34 on the day (56%) for 147 yards and one interception, but he also recorded a rushing touchdown. LaShawn Ware had an impressive performance on the ground for the Continentals, rushing for 11 yards on 15 touches (7.7 yards/carry), and Pat Donadio notched 51 yards receiving on 4 catches.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tom Cabarle, in addition to his two interceptions and recovered fumble, led all tacklers with 10 (7 solo). Cade Larabee was the outstanding defensive player for Hamilton, with 8 tackles, including one sack, and an interception.
This game is an excellent example of statistics not bearing out the final score. Hamilton outplayed Williams in terms of time of possession (31:19 to 28:41), first downs (19 to 14), and total offensive yardage (341 to 279). The Continentals held the Ephs to only 45 yards rushing, allowing fifth-year senior and tri-captain Alex Scyocurka only 15 yards on the ground. Hamilton's four turnovers, all in the first half, were their only major flaw, and it was their undoing.
After the game, Williams head coach Aaron Kelton expressed his excitement over the win, saying: "I'm just thrilled for our guys. I'm thrilled that we were able to come away with a win and that all of our hard work paid off." Coach Kelton wasn't bothered by how close the game became; "As long as we get one more point than the other team, that's all that matters." Speaking about next week's matchup versus Wesleyan, he said, "They're a really good club, and we're going to have our hands full, but we hope to use this win as a springboard for next week. We'll enjoy this win now, and deal with Wesleyan next week, but it will definitely be a good game."
The Ephs' win is their 18th consecutive win over the Continentals and their 8th consecutive win in Clinton. The loss extends Hamilton's 18-game losing streak, which stretches back to the 2012 season. Next week, Williams will host Wesleyan at 1:30 for their Homecoming Game, while Hamilton will host Middlebury.