WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Senior safety Ben Anthony's interception return for a touchdown gave the Williams College Ephs (7-2) a lead that they never looked back from over the Amherst College Mammoths (4-5). At game's end, the score was 31-9.
Joel Nicholas had the best game of his young career, running for 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The NESCAC-leading Eph defense, only allowing 11.8 points per game, set the tone early. On a 3rd and long, first-year safety Drew Michalek broke up an Amherst pass and batted the ball into the air, which fell into Anthony's arms. He took full advantage of his good fortune and made his way 32 yards all the way into the endzone.
On the next possession, they forced a quick three-and-out and gave the ball to the offense for the first time. Building off the defense's outstanding play, junior quarterback Bobby Maimaron and the offense had little issue working their way up the field. They caught an early break, as receiver Justin Nelson's defender slipped just as he caught a pass. This gave him considerable room to run, and with a few nifty moves he made his way all the way to the 7-yard line. This set up a run by Nicholas, who ran nearly untouched into the endzone due to fantastic blocking. With more than half the first quarter to go, Williams was up 14-0.
Each team added two field goals in back-to-back drives in the 2nd, maintaining a 14-point gap. The Ephs looked poised to add to the lead, but penalties began to bring back any progress the team could achieve.
On one drive, two consecutive penalties sent the Ephs back to 1st and 25 and negated a 19-yard catch by Nelson. This led to a punt into the wind that gave the Mammoths great field position. Once they made it into the redzone, the Ephs seemed to have stopped them on 4th down. However, a pass interference call kept the Mammoth drive alive, leading to a touchdown pass a few plays later. By halftime, it was a one-possession game at 17-9.
Williams endeavored to run the ball more in the second half, a strategy that resulted in a quick touchdown. On 4th and inches, the Ephs gave the ball to Nicholas, who bounced outside the blitz and tallied 53 yards. With 10 yards to go, Nicholas was entrusted with the ball again, rushing through a hole and into the endzone for a touchdown.
Quick defensive stops and almost no incomplete passes kept the clock moving, making for long Williams drives and few opportunities for Amherst to come back. After the touchdown drive, the Ephs had 2nd half drives of seven minutes, five minutes and nine minutes. Clock management was crucial, and the Ephs delivered. And, on the final drive, Nicholas added his final touchdown on an impressive 23-yard rush, putting him over 200 yards on the day.
Twelve seniors finished their football careers Saturday by completing "The Walk", called the "The Best Post-Game Tradition in America" by Sports Illustrated.
The Ephs finish the season with their best record under head coach Mark Raymond and a bright future looking forward. Many of the team's top players this season, such as Maimaron and Frank Stola, will be seniors next year.