WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – On an unusually warm October day, the Williams College Ephs (4-1) faced the Tufts Jumbos (3-2). Williams has been in the midst of a breakout season, establishing themselves as one of the top teams in the NESCAC. The team was looking to win four games in a row for the first time since 2011, when they went 5-3 for the year. Unfortunately, Williams was not able to complete this feat, as they lost to Tufts 21-13. Both Williams and Tufts now sport a record of 4-2 on the year.
The first highlight of the game occurred on Tufts second offensive possession. Starting a play on the 50-yard line, quarterback Ryan McDonald passed to Winton Blount, who passed by the defense and looked primed to score. However, a trailing Ben Anthony '20 came from behind Blount to punch the ball out of his hands and into the end zone. There, cornerback Amyhr Barber '19 recovered the fumble for a touchback, thwarting the Jumbos' scoring attempt. The offense could not capitalize on this reverse of fortune, however, as they were stopped just before making it to the red zone. The game remained scoreless by the end of a quick first quarter.
The game continued to be a defensive standoff for most of the second quarter. Interestingly, in every drive, each team got at least one first down, but couldn't convert those into points. Possessions began deep in the offense's territory, and neither made mistakes that the opposition could capitalize on.
However, one team was bound to break through. With only four minutes left in the first half, Tufts was faced with 2nd and 18 at their own 41-yard line. McDonald passed through the middle to Jack Dolan, who had room to run. After about 10 yards, a defender attempted to tackle him, but he was unintentionally pushed forward towards the goal line. This allowed him to accelerate forward, past every Ephs defender on his way to the end zone.
The Ephs quickly responded to bring the momentum back to their side. Frank Stola '21 started the drive off with a kickoff return to the Williams 40-yard line. After a 5-yard rush by TJ Dozier '21, first-year quarterback Bobby Maimaron aired it out to Stola, giving his receiver a chance to make a play. Although the ball was underthrown due to the wind, Stola made the adjustment and caught the ball for a 42-yard gain. This set up a completion to Kyle Horihan '21, who got past the defense and ran it in for the Ephs first touchdown.
The Jumbos again got ahead, however. McDonald threw a flurry of passes that each seemed to go for big yardage. In only about a minute, the Jumbos moved 50 yards forward and were knocking on the door of another touchdown. Eventually, running back Mike Pedrini ran two yards and scored a touchdown untouched. On the point after, however, an errant snap led to a failed conversion, keeping the score at 13-7. The Ephs attempted a last-minute scoring drive, spurred on by a fake-kneel turned into a 27-yard Dozier run. However, they could not finish it off in time, and the two teams went into the half with the same score as before.
Tufts nearly made it a two-possession lead, but the defense came up with a big stop to keep the status quo. The drive was set up by a Jumbos sack on the Williams 1-yard line, forcing a difficult punt for Adam Regensburg '18. This allowed the Jumbos to start their possession only 30 yards away from the end zone. They worked their way all the way up to the 1-yard line on 3rd down. However, the men stopped the Jumbos from making any progress on two plays in a row, and gave the ball back to the Williams offense on downs.
This ended up still going in Tufts favor. On 2nd down, Maimaron threw a pass incomplete to Frank Stola. This would have been inconsequential, but there was a holding penalty in the end zone. By rule, this was a safety, which made the score 15-7 and gave the ball back to the Jumbos. Despite receiving advantageous field position, the Jumbos punted the ball back to the Ephs after a 3-and-out.
Soon after, though, they broke the deadlock. Starting on their own 43-yard line, the Jumbos only needed 3 plays to score another touchdown. On the scoring play, running back Jay Tyler cut outside and through a heavily blocked Williams secondary, making it through for a score. A missed extra point brought the score to 21-7.
The Ephs had a chance to bring the game to a one-possession game again, and nearly were able to do so. Maimaron completed three straight passes for 32 combined yards to get his team to the Tufts 13. On the ensuing play, Maimaron threw a pass through the middle to his tight end Justin Burke '21; however, a hard hit knocked the ball out of his hands and into the waiting arms of Tufts linebacker Greg Holt. This killed a solid drive that would make a comeback much harder to accomplish.
After a few quick drives from both teams, the Jumbos had the ball back in Williams territory. However, on a pass from McDonald to his slot receiver, Kyle Hornihan jumped the route and intercepted it. Hornihan made a major impact on both sides of the ball, as he was a recipient of a touchdown earlier in the game. His play led the Ephs offense to score and begin their comeback. Maimaron and his receivers largely led the way into the red zone, but after that it was a struggle to get in. Once on the 5-yard line, it took six plays (including a Tufts holding penalty) for the team to score on a 1-yard Dozier run. Kicker Min Kyu Park '21, however, missed the extra point, making the score 21-13 with about 6 minutes remaining.
Unfortunately, the potential Williams comeback was contingent on the defense successfully stopping the Jumbos, which they were unable to do. Tufts methodically worked its way upfield, milking clock as they gained first downs. Eventually, the Jumbos found themselves still with the ball by the end of the game, giving no chance for the Ephs to mount a comeback.
Tufts had 484 total yards, led by Ryan McDonald's 336 yards passing, 55 yards rushing, and 1 touchdown. Williams, meanwhile, had 299 total yards, with Bobby Maimaron accounting for 229 total yards (208 passing and 21 rushing) along with 1 throwing touchdown. McDonald was Tufts leading rusher, while TJ Dozier led the Ephs with 66 yards and 1 score. On the receiving end, Jack Dolan had 5 catches for 119 yards and 1 score, while Frank Stola had 6 receptions for 73 yards.
Despite the loss, Kyle Horihan's play was a bright spot for the Ephs. He was the team's leading tackler on defense with 11 stops, including two tackles for losses and an interception, in addition to his touchdown on offense. The Tufts defense, meanwhile, had 6 tackles for losses and a sack collectively, making it difficult for Maimaron to operate all day.
"Tufts is a really good football team, and they played well," said head coach Mark Raymond. "Our guys played tough and we battled, but we just didn't make enough plays at the end of the day."
The Ephs will look to go back to their winning ways next week when they host Hamilton (1-5) on Farley-Lamb Field at 1:30 PM.