SOMERVILLE, MA – Playing in less than optimal conditions, including torrential rain in the first quarter, the Tufts University Jumbos (4-1) ran the Williams College Ephs (0-5) to death, racking up 266 rushing yards – 92% of their yards from scrimmage – on the way to a 35-16 victory.
The Jumbos' standout player was Chance Brady, who racked up 157 yards on 26 rushes and an impressive four touchdowns; in doing so, Brady tied the Tufts record for single-game rushing touchdowns and broke the record for career rushing touchdowns (25).
Williams scored first, taking advantage of a muffed punt by Mike Rando -- one of many casualties of the torrential rain during the first quarter – which allowed them to continue the opening drive. Connor Harris broke a 26-yard run to put the Ephs in scoring range, and three plays later Adam Regensburg knocked through a 26-yard field goal for the score.
The rain, which picked up substantially after the Eph field goal, prevented either team from scoring on their next possessions, but after it subsided Tufts was able to answer. On third and long at the Williams 39, Tufts QB Ryan McDonald scrambled out of a collapsing pocket for a 20-yard gain, followed two plays later by a one-yard TD run by Chance Brady. Willie Holmquist made the PAT, and the Jumbos led 7-3 with 35 seconds on the clock in the first quarter.
The Eph offense dug deep on the next drive, however, and answered right back. After benefitting from a pass interference penalty against Tim Preston, the Ephs converted three consecutive third-and-long situations through the air. The third of these completions saw first-year QB Peter Cahill loft the ball to the back corner of the end zone for Tyler Patterson, who came down with it to put the Ephs back in the lead, 9-7 after a missed PAT attempt.
The teams traded three-and-outs, and the Ephs' punt was returned 20 yards by Mike Rando, giving the Jumbo offense excellent field position. A combination of strong runs by Chance Brady and two costly offsides penalties by the Ephs culminated in another short touchdown run by Brady at around the two-minute mark in the first half, giving Tufts the lead they would hold for the rest of the game.
The first play of the ensuing Williams drive went terribly wrong, as Eph QB Jansen Durham's pass was picked off by Tim Preston and returned to the Eph 13-yard line. the Eph defense, however, made a stand, forcing a field goal attempt which failed when Willie Holmquist's plant foot slipped on the muddy field. Williams had no time to take advantage, and the teams went into the half with the score at 14-9.
Although the second half started slow for both teams offensively, Tufts asserted themselves with back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. The first came when Chance Brady sliced through the Williams defensive front like a hot knife through butter and outran the secondary, diving into the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown run.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Jumbos chipped away at the Williams rush defense, this time with Dominic Borelli, until Chance Brady capped the drive with a 15-yard run to the Williams 2 before finishing it off with a two-yard score. Thus, with 4:29 left in the third quarter, Williams found themselves trailing by 19 points, 28-9.
The Ephs' spirits were dampened even further when a promising drive led by Peter Cahill, who had replaced Jansen Durham earlier in the quarter, ended with an interception. Trying to execute a trick play, Connor Harris reversed the ball to Tyler Patterson who launched the ball towards the end zone. The ball was slightly underthrown, however, and J.P. Garcia came up with it for the Jumbos.
Two possessions later, the Ephs leveraged their own success on the ground into points; a keeper by Cahill for a touchdown capped big runs by Connor Harris and Noah Sorrento. With the score 28-16 with 6:20 remaining, Williams attempted but failed to recover an onside kick. A brilliant punt by Holmquist, the NESCAC leader in yards per punt, pinned the Ephs inside their own five-yard line, and the Tufts defense forced a turnover on downs. The first play of the ensuing drive saw Max Athy drive the nail into the coffin with a 13-yard touchdown run, fixing the score at its final position: 35-16.
After the game, Williams head coach Mark Raymond praised his backs as a bright spot in the game: Noah Sorrento set a career mark with 101 yards on 22 carries, while Connor Harris contributed 86 yards on 17 carries. In spite of their deficit in points, the Ephs actually outgained the Jumbos from scrimmage: 320 yards to 288 yards, wiht 227 of those yards coming on the ground. Coach Raymond also highlighted the play of his young offensive line in setting up those yardge totals, calling their blocking "outstanding".
Another bright spot for Williams came in the performance of Peter Cahill, who was responsible for both of the Ephs' touchdowns; Cahill went 4-9 for 79 yards while also contributing 41 yards on ten rushes. "Peter did a great job today in relief," Coach Raymond said. "We're really happy with his performance today." Tyler Patterson repeated as the team's leading receiver with 65 yards on three catches.
In addition to Brady's 157 yards, QB Ryan McDonald added 58 more yards rushing for Tufts on 11 carries. The Tufts defense was led by first-year Greg Holt, the NESCAC leader in tackles, who added 15 to his total, three of which were for a loss. The Ephs were led by Luke Apuzzi and Alex Brandeis, who both registered 9 tackles; Brandeis also recovered a fumble.
Next week, Tufts will face Amherst, while Williams will travel to Hamilton to face the Continentals.