On a gray day at Hamilton College's Steuben Field, the Williams College Ephs (0-6) came up short against the Hamilton College Continentals (2-4)by a score of 16-6.
As the low score might suggest, neither team was able to mount many scoring theats. Hamilton displayed big-play potential from time to time, but had difficulty converting this success into points, while Williams struggled on both sides of the ball. The Ephs only put up 86 yards of offense in the first half while also allowing the Continental rushing attack, which was only averaging 48 yards per game, to rack up over triple that amount.
On their first drive of the game, Hamilton immediately found success in the run game – the Continentals matched their per-game average in just five plays. After marching down the field, however, Williams DB Alex Brandeis sacked QB Kenny Gray for a big loss, stalling the drive, and Hamilton placekicker Robert Morris knocked through a 37-yard field goal for the game's first score.
After a very impressive rushing performance the previous week against Tufts, Williams encountered unexpectedly stout resistance to their rushing attack. The option run by Peter Cahill and Noah Sorrento, which had seen success against the Jumbos, was routinely stopped by the Continental defensive front, and Sorrento struggled to find holes in the line.
Luckily for the Ephs, Hamilton was plagued by mistakes – such as the bad snap which turned an imminent touchdown into a missed field goal attempt – that prevented them from converting on their ability to move the ball downfield.
Williams seemed to get a big break when Luke Apuzzi blocked a punt and Williams started their drive on the Hamilton 15. Even after a penalty gave them first and goal, a pitch play to Noah Sorrento blew up, resulting in a 16-yard loss and then a missed 43-yard field goal attempt, left the Ephs scoreless despite their fortunate field position.
Hamilton extended their slim margin on the last drive of the half, despite penalties negating two big-yardage plays. Kenny Gray hit Joe Schmidt deep in double coverage for a 38-yard gain to put the ball well inside the red zone, and after two Marcus Gutierrez rushes, Kenny Gray executed a QB sneak for what would be the Continentals' only touchdown with just 27 seconds left in the half. Hamilton led 10-0 as the teams went to the locker room.
The second half saw these trends continue: Hamilton successfully moved the ball to deep in Williams territory, where the Eph defense would make a stand and prevent the touchdown. "We really played with a lot of poise down there at some crucial times in the game," Williams head coach Mark Raymond said about his team's red-zone defense after the game.
The Ephs' offensive performance also picked up after halftime – the Ephs registered 175 yards in the second half as opposed to 86 in the first -- but they still struggled to string together enough first downs to mount comeback.
The Continentals struck on their second possession of the half. After giving up an interception on Hamilton's previous drive, Kenny Gray connected with Alec Waugh deep down the left sideline at the Williams 6-yard line. Hamilton's red zone efficiency woes continued, as the Eph defense kept them out of the end zone and instead forced Robert Morris to kick his second field goal, this one from 23 yards, with 3:25 left in the 3rd quarter.
Hamilton's next drive played out similarly, though with more help from Eph penalties: back-to-back personal fouls on Ephs gave the Continentals 19 yards and two first downs for free. However, with the ball on the Eph 10, Sam Gowen came up with a big sack and forced Hamilton's third field goal on the day with 8:16 left in regulation.
Williams got on the board on their next drive, a campaign which featured a fake punt by Adam Regensburg and another fourth down conversion by Peter Cahill before QB Jansen Durham hit Adam Regensburg on a post route in the end zone. The two-point try failed, as did the onside kick, and although the Ephs forced a three-and-out on Hamilton's ensuing drive, Mickey Keating functionally ended the game with an interception in the final minute of the game.
Hamilton outgained the Ephs – 383 to 261 – and found balanced success, registering 210 passing yards and 173 rushing yards. Kenny Gray was 13-24 for 210 yards and an interception, while Marcus Gutierrez had a career game with 115 yards on 25 carries. Alec Waugh's 52-yard second-half catch was enough to put him atop the Hamilton receiving corps, though Charles Ensley also caught four passes for 47 yards. Mickey Keating led the Continental defense with 13 tackles and the game-sealing interception, while Tyler Hudson and Brent Lobien both contributed sacks.
For Williams Jansen Durham, who replaced Peter Cahill in the second half, completed ten of his sixteen pass attempts for 95 yards and a touchdown. Noah Sorrento, coming off a career game versus Tufts, led the Eph rushing attack with 55 yards, and Adam Regensburg racked up 46 yards receiving on 3 catches, including the Ephs' only touchdown. On defense, Luke Apuzzi was everywhere for Williams: in addition to his six tackles, Apuzzi nabbed an interception and blocked a punt. Ben Anthony led the Ephs in tackles with 9, while Alex Brandeis put in a sack and a forced fumble.
Coach Raymond, disappointed in the outcome, was still positive about his team's performance: "I like the way they competed; they played hard, tough, physical football. In the end, we just didn't make enough plays." He did, however, highlight the woes in the rush defense which has allowed well over 400 rushing yards in the last two games: "We've got to be tougher on defense, especially with tackling. We just haven't been tackling that well."
Next week, Hamilton will host the 5-1 Middlebury Panthers, while Williams will play their Homecoming Game at Farley-Lamb Field against Little Three rival Wesleyan University.