Ephs Fall to Rival Amherst 28-3


In the 131st playing 0f the "Biggest Little Game in America", the Williams College Ephs (0-8) fell to their archrivals Amherst College (4-4) by a score of 28-3. This is Amherst's sixth straight victory over the Ephs, tying their longest streak ever against Williams, although the Ephs still hold a commanding series advantage, 71-55-5.

After an uneventful first possesion for Williams, Amherst's very first play, a pass by Alex Berluti, resulted in a turnover; Eph first year Jake Mohan picked off the underthrown pass with a diving play at the Amherst 40 yard line.

A facemask penalty gave the Ephs a first down up to the 24, followed by a pass to Noah Sorrento underneath for another first down. Williams, however, was unable to find the end zone and settled for 22-yard field goal that Adam Regensburg reliably knocked through.

Amherst answered quickly, however. Jack Hickey's first carry of the game went for 30 yards deep into Williams territory, and two plays later Nick Morales found a wide open Devin Boehm in the end zone to put Amherst on top 7-3 with 6:44 left in the first quarter.

After this flurry of scoring, the game settled into a rhythm defined by strong defensive play rather than offensive production. Big sacks by Williams linemen Sam Gowen and then Chris Hattar brought consecutive Amherst drives to an end, while a Noah Sorrento fumble and an interception by Amherst DB Nate Tyrell hampered Williams's efforts to score 

Tyrell's interception, which he returned to the Williams 16 yard line, set up Amherst for a scoring opportunity, but a stout Williams defense forced a field goal attempt. Attempting some trickery, the Purple and White tried to fake the kick as the holder Craig Carmilani dropped back to pass, but Russell Monyette wrapped him up and knocked the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by John Dillon at the Williams 40, giving the Ephs promising field position with around five minutes left in the half.

Relying on strong rushing by the quick first-year Steve Bohling, who broke three first-down runs in his first four carries, the Ephs arrived at the Amherst 2 with less than a minute to play. The go-ahead touchdown was not to be, however, as Amherst lineman John Callahan came up with two clutch defensive stops on third and fourth down to keep the Ephs out of the end zone and preserve the 7-3 lead going into the half for Amherst.

Going into the second half, Amherst reversed the first half's emphasis on defense, coming out to score on their first three drives of the second half while holding Williams scoreless.

Amherst's quarterbacks Nick Morales and Alex Berluti demonstrated their accuracy, first with Morales threading the ball through tight coverage to Devin Boehm for a 55-yard touchdown on the fifth play of the second half. On the next drive, Berluti threw to Nick Widen just past the outstretched fingers of an Eph defender for a 56-yard gain that set up a touchdown pass from Berluti to his brother Bo, putting Amherst up 21-7.

Taking advantage of an interception by Evan Boynton, Amherst then found the end zone once more, this time on a 31-yard pass from Morales to Bo Berluti in the back of the end zone, fixing what would end up being the final score of 28-3.

Amherst's pass rush turned up the heat in the fourth quarter, registering four sacks totaling 41 yards and seriously hindering the Ephs' offensive production. While the Williams defense held the Amherst offensive attack scoreless in the final quarter and Ben Anthony was able to come up with an interception and a 25-yard return, the Ephs were unable to overcome the constant pass rush by Amherst and failed to score in the second half.

Amherst outgained the Ephs 293 yards to 188 yards, more than making up for their 37 yards of rush offense with 256 yards through the air. Williams' yardage was more evenly split, registering 111 yards on the ground and 77 through the air.

Nick Morales completed 10 of his 12 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns, while Alex Berluti contributed a touchdown while also throwing two interceptions on his way to 87 yards passing. Peter Cahill led the Ephs with 40 yards and an interception in a 5-8 performance after coming into the game in the third quarter.

On the ground, Williams back Steve Bohling led all rushers with 56 yards on 11 carries; Noah Sorrento aslo contributed 31 yards. The rushing leader for Amherst was Jack Hickey, who registered 31 yards on just three carries. Devin Boehm led all receivers with 97 yards on 9 catches and two touchdowns, while Bo Berluti also contributed 2 scores on his way to five catches and 68 yards. Noah Sorrento was the leading receiver for the Ephs, notching 22 yards on three catches.

Amherst linebacker Parker Chapman led all tacklers with 11.5, while Niyi Odewade, Markel Thomas, and Nick Ulanoff all contributed sacks. Alex Brandeis led the Ephs with 5.5 tackles. 

After the game, Williams head coach Mark Raymond noted the discrepancy between the halves, saying "We played on outstanding first half; our players came out ready to compete and made some great plays, but we just couldn't sustain it for the second half." Coach Raymond also credited Amherst's playmakers: "They made some great plays, where we had great coverage and their receiver came down with the ball. That's what the game's about.

 Amherst, who put together back-to-back perfect seasons the previous two years, struggled this year against top NESCAC teams to finish the year at .500. The Ephs' 0-8 performance, meanwhile, marks their first winless season since 1947.

Reflecting on his first season as head coach, Raymond said, "Obviously we wish we had some different scores, but that just wasn't the case. This team has worked hard from the beginning. They've played with passion and great pride for each other, and I'm very proud of them."

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