WILLIAMSTOWN, MA– On the Saturday of Halloween weekend, the Williams College Ephs (4-2) faced the Hamilton College Continentals (2-4) at home. The Ephs were coming off a loss to Tufts, while the Continentals had won two games in a row. However, these wins came against Bowdoin and Colby, both of which Williams had previously beaten. The game favored the Ephs, who had a better record and were home. Building off a 24-point first half, Williams brought home the win, 24-6.
The game started as well as the Ephs could have hoped. They won the coin toss, and elected to choose the south side of the field. The wind was whipping strongly on Saturday; in fact, a wind advisory had been sent out for the weekend. By winning the coin toss, the Ephs knew that they would have a major advantage in the 1st and 4th quarters because of this, especially on punts. Hamilton then elected to receive to open the game.
First year Min Kyu Park's kick, aided by the wind, sailed into the end zone for a touchback. Soon enough, the Continentals were forced to punt. The punt only went 16 yards to the Hamilton 45, giving Williams the ball back in great field position. The offense then methodically made its way downfield, eventually coming to the 8-yard line. On the final play of the drive, quarterback Bobby Maimaron '21 stayed in the pocket and waited for his receiver and classmate Frank Stola to come across the field. While seemingly everybody on the field was rolling left, Stola streaked to the right, and when he caught the ball, he sprinted into the end zone untouched. After Park's extra point, the score was 7-0.
The Ephs soon had another chance to add to their lead. After an 8-play Hamilton drive that was riddled by penalties, the Ephs got the ball back on their own 35. Maimaron then rushed for 35 yards in 3 plays, and with a personal foul penalty mixed in, the Ephs were soon in the red zone again. The offense seemed to be moving forward again, but on 3rd and 3, Maimaron was sacked by Cole Burchill. Park came on for a 32-yard field goal, and nailed it to give his team a 10-point lead.
Williams almost let Hamilton back into the game soon after. After receiving a punt, Williams had the ball at their own 16-yard line. Maimaron then passed to Steve Bohling '20. As he ran near the sideline, however, Justin Leigh came over and forced a fumble, which the Continentals then recovered. The only bright spot for the Ephs on this play was that there was a personal foul called on their opponents, which brought the ball back 15 yards to the Williams 35. Put in a precarious situation, the defense stepped up. With Hamilton on the 23-yard line on 2nd down, first-year Jarrett Wesner sacked the quarterback for a 10-yard loss. Wesner missed last week's game against Tufts, and the defense surely appreciated his return. This forced a 41-yard field goal, and even though kicker Zach Altneu's kick was long enough, it flew right of the goalpost, keeping the score at 10-0.
The Williams receivers, the offense moved 80 yards upfield, including a 31-yard heave to Stola, who made an adjustment on his route and brought the ball all the way to the 2-yard line. The drive was then capped off by a 2-yard Maimaron touchdown run.
Feeding off of the Ephs' offensive success, the defensive unit had its best showing yet on the ensuing Hamilton drive. Quarterback Kenny Gray was sacked twice in a row, with the first coming by way of Wesner and Ben Anthony '20, and the second by Jameson DeMarco '19 and Chris Hattar '18. This gave the ball back to a red-hot Williams offense at the Williams 26.
The men then put another touchdown onto their impressive total during their next drive. On 2nd and 12, Maimaron found Justin Nelson '21 in full stride in the middle. Breaking through a hole between Hamilton's safeties, Nelson had a clear path to the endzone. This 76-yard completion happened with only a few minutes left in the half, and with the ball back at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, things were looking good for the men.
Williams, looking to maintain its lead, played more conservatively in the second half. In the vast majority of their plays, they either looked to run the ball or to make short, high-percentage passes. The strategy seemed to be to run the clock down, while also making Hamilton prove that they could get past the Ephs defense. For most of the 2nd half, however, the defense looked nearly unbeatable. Although they gave up plenty of yards each possession, they kept the ball in front of them and in play, forcing the clock to wind down.
The Continentals finally broke through with 8:31 left in the game. On their previous drive, they punted the ball from midfield to the 1-yard line, putting the Ephs offense in a hole. On the first play of the drive, Maimaron threw the ball directly into coverage, and was intercepted. Then, starting on the Williams 18, Kenny Gray completed two quick passes to get into the end zone. Attempting a two-point conversion to make the game a two-possession game instead of 3, Hamilton tried to pass to Sam Robinson, but the ball fell out of his hands. The score was 24-6.
The Continentals then attempted an onside kick, successfully recovering it at the Hamilton 48. The offense threatened to score again, but on 4th down and 10, all that Gray could do under pressure was throw the ball up and hope for the best. Fortunately for Williams, there were no receivers in the area, giving Ben Anthony an uncontested interception. This essentially ended the game, as with only 5 minutes left and needing 18 points to tie, the game was out of reach for the Continentals.
The Ephs had a stellar 476 yards of offense, as opposed to 317 for their opponents. Bobby Maimaron had another solid game, with 268 yards passing, 65 yards rushing and 3 total touchdowns, with 2 interceptions. Justin Nelson excelled as Maimaron's top target for the day, catching 6 passes on his way to a 125-yard, 1 touchdown game. Hamilton quarterback Kenny Gray was 21-48 with 237 passing with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He primarily looked to Joe Schmidt, who had 97 yards on 6 catches and a touchdown. Schmidt led the NESCAC in receiving touchdowns coming into the week, and now sits second in the league with 8 scores.
Williams also excelled on the ground, garnering 208 yards, led by T.J. Dozier '21, who 112 yards on the ground. The Continentals were led by Marcus Gutierrez, who had 77 yards rushing. On defense, Williams dominated, with 5 sacks and two interceptions on their way to allowing only 6 points. T.J. Rothman '21 led the team with 8 tackles. The Continentals, meanwhile, were led by Tyler Hudson with 9 tackles. They also had two sacks and two interceptions.
"Just proud of our guys today," said head coach Mark Raymond. "We knew Hamilton was going to be a tough football team, and we knew they wouldn't go away in the second half. We had some critical stops at the end in pressure situations, which is what good teams do."
The win improves the Ephs' record to 5-2, which guarantees a winning season, the first since 2011. Impressive turn around season for Eph head coach Mark Raymond and his staff. The Ephs have gone from winless in 2016 to a winnng season in 2017.
Next week the Ephs will play their first Little Three game at Wesleyan and it will be a challenge, as the Wesleyan Cardinals (5-2), defeated the Ephs handily last season. last year's contest. One of the toughest tasks for Williams will be to contain Wesleyan senior wide receiver Mike Breuler, who leads the league in receptions (68), yards (967), and touchdowns (10). The game will take place at 1 PM in Middletown, Conn.