MEDFORD, MA – A crucial goal-line stand, a strong effort from the defensive line and a halfback pass for a touchdown propelled the Tufts Jumbos (5-1) to a 28-21 victory over the Williams Ephs (4-2).
Early in the fourth quarter, the Ephs had second-and-goal at the Tufts 1-yard line, down by just one touchdown. But the Tufts defense was able to hold. On second down, freshman running back Carter Begel was stuffed trying to run up the gut, and on third down, sophomore wide receiver Rashad Morrison was unable to break the plane on an end-around. Down 28-21 and in prime position to score, Williams opted to go for it on 4th-and-goal, only for sophomore quarterback Bobby Maimaron's dive to come up just half a yard short. In a tight, defensive second half, the goal-line stand made the difference as the Jumbos won by the same score.
It was a tale of two halves in Medford today, as the Ephs and Jumbos scored 42 combined points in the first half but just 7 in the second.
The Ephs' offensive struggles in the second half continued, as they've scored just seven points on 12 second-half drives dating back to last week's loss against Middlebury. But they were able to stay competitive until the very end because of a strong offensive first half in which they scored 21 points, accumulating 181 total yards in the process.
Unfortunately for the Ephs, the Jumbos matched each Williams touchdown drive with a score of their own, resulting in a streak of six consecutive touchdowns over the first and second quarters. Maimaron opened the scoring with his eighth rushing touchdown of the season and Carter Begel took it into the end zone twice, but Tufts countered with two touchdown passes from quarterback Ryan McDonald and a touchdown run by running back Dom Borelli, who threw for the game-winning score in the third quarter.
After recovering a fumble by Begel – the game's lone turnover – deep in Williams territory, Tufts ran a trick play that worked to perfection. Starting in the backfield, Borelli ran to his right and caught a lateral pass from McDonald. Continuing to scramble right, Borelli then unfurled a picture-perfect pass to a wide open Jack Dolan in the end zone, giving Tufts the lead for good on a momentum-changing play. The Jumbos wouldn't allow another point for the rest of the contest.
The Ephs had one last chance with under five minutes to go, but Bobby Maimaron's 4th-down pass from midfield fell incomplete and the Tufts offense took over, converting two key third downs and running out the clock from there.
"Yeah, I thought our kids played hard, real tough against a really good football team," coach Mark Raymond said after the game. "We just came up a little short at the end. When we had a chance to score late, we couldn't cash in."
Despite the loss, Williams performed well in a couple of key areas, converting 11 of 19 third- and fourth-down attempts (57.9%) and incurring only 4 penalties for 39 yards (compared to Tufts' 10 penalties for 80 yards). Led by Maimaron (24 carries, 135 yards, 1 TD), the rushing attack produced 176 yards and three touchdowns. But the passing game left a lot to be desired, as even though Maimaron completed a solid 18 for 29 of his passes (62.0%), those 18 completions only went for 107 yards, resulting in only 3.7 yards per passing attempt. The Ephs' offense was also shut out in the second half for the first time all season.
For the Jumbos, McDonald and Pedrini had standout games, scoring two touchdowns apiece. Tight end Jack Donohue led the receiving corps, registering 4 catches for 72 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Linebacker Greg Holt forced a key Begel fumble in the third quarter, which was then recovered by defensive back Nolan Ostmo.
Next Saturday at 1:30 PM ET, Williams (4-2) will look to regain its winning stride on the road against Hamilton (2-4).