Amherst Ends Season with 20-0 Loss at Williams
Amherst and Williams have been battling since 1884.
Fans began rolling in to Weston Field around 9 a.m. with hopes of staking out a prime location in which they could be seen by the numerous ESPN cameras. Tension was building and it was clear something special was brewing on the campus of Williams College—when the video crew gave the crowd a final countdown, ESPN College Gameday went live, the fans unleashed their excitement, and the Biggest Little Game in America was officially introduced to the rest of the country.
Shortly after noon, the Lord Jeffs took the field and people remembered there was a football game to be played. The large turnout and frigid temperature were as expected, as the clear skies and calm winds were more than fans could have hoped for in November. Amherst elected to kick off after winning the coin toss, and the much-anticipated 122nd meeting between Amherst and Williams was ready to begin.
The NESCAC’s top-ranked offense got to work early and made marching down the field look easy, but the Amherst defense came up with a huge stop on 3rd-and-5 to force the Ephs to settle for a field goal attempt. Despite the home field advantage and early momentum, Williams could not split the uprights, allowing the Jeffs to take over from the 20-yard line. After a three-and-out, however, Amherst had to punt and the Ephs started their next drive from their own 46-yard line.
Williams quickly returned to the red zone to set up 4th-and-4 from the 8-yard line, but senior quarterback Pat Lucey could not find an open target, as the Jeffs once again escaped a long Eph drive unharmed. Amherst took over on downs but still could not get into a rhythm, as first-year Tim Kiely sacked quarterback Lucas Loeffler (New York, NY) to cap off another three-and-out.
Lucey went straight for the kill in the Ephs’ third drive by connecting with sophomore Nick Caro on a 32-yard bomb for the first points of the game, marking Lucey’s 16th passing touchdown of the year. Amherst responded with a long run by sophomore Aaron Rauh (Hudson, OH) and a long completion from Loeffler to junior tight end Jay Hebb (Amherst, MA) to land the Jeffs on the opposing 28-yard line, but senior John Snipes picked up a crucial interception to hand possession back to the Ephs.
The Jeffs and Ephs failed to score on each of their next two possessions before Williams was handed great field position once more late in the second quarter, as Lucey got right to work by hurling a 27-yard completion to Caro that brought the hosts to the Amherst 23-yard line with three minutes remaining before halftime.
Head coach E.J. Mills holds a 61-27 record at Amherst.
The home crowd grew rowdy in hopes of seeing a second touchdown, but junior A.J. Scola (Holden, MA) came up with a huge pass breakup on 3rd-and-10 to force the Ephs into another field goal attempt. Sophomore Scott Sobolewski converted his attempt this time to give Williams a 10-0 lead with just 36 seconds showing on the clock. Loeffler was intercepted by senior Luke Moran in Amherst’s final play of the half, as the Ephs took a 10-0 lead into the locker room.
Williams picked up 11 first downs with 216 yards of total offense in the first half compared to Amherst’s two first downs and 50 yards of offense. The Ephs were led by Lucey’s 111 passing yards and 31 rushing yards, while the Jeffs were paced by 25 yards from Loeffler and 23 from Rauh. Junior Guy Matisis (Hingham, MA) and senior Nick Boehm (Shaker Heights, OH) led the Amherst defense with six tackles apiece, with Matisis adding a pair of sacks.
Neither team could put together a significant third-quarter drive until Lucey drove Williams down to Amherst’s 6-yard line, allowing junior Brian Morrissey to pick up his 13th rushing touchdown of the season, as the Ephs took a commanding 17-0 lead with less than a minute to play in the third quarter.
Things continued to fall into place for the Ephs when they recovered a Lord Jeff fumble inside of Amherst’s 30-yard line before heading into the final 15 minutes of regulation. Unable to afford surrendering another seven points, the Jeffs once again held the Ephs to a Sobolewski field goal and trailed 20-0 with the majority of the fourth quarter to work with.
The final 15 minutes were no different than the first 45 for the Jeffs, who racked up 146 yards of total offense and were held scoreless for the first time in 2007. Williams totaled nearly 400 yards in the game, highlighted by Lucey completing 19 of 32 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. Morrissey led all running backs with 100 yards on 36 carries.
Rauh and junior Eric NeSmith (Newark, NJ) finished with 24 and 23 rushing yards, respectively, while Loeffler completed six of 19 passes for 68 yards. Senior tri-captain Chris Gillyard (Baltimore, MD) caught two passes for 32 yards and junior Jim Eckenrode (Madison, CT) added 23 yards on a pair of catches.
Boehm led all players with 13 total tackles and Matisis was close behind with 11. Amherst picked up only seven first downs on the day and converted on just two of 12 third-down attempts, as Williams held possession for 38 minutes and 47 seconds compared to Amherst’s 21 minutes and 13 seconds.
Amherst finishes at 4-4 having lost the final three games of the season, while Williams improves to 6-2 after stringing together six consecutive wins. In head-to-head action, the rivalry moved to 69-48-5 in favor the Ephs, with Williams winning 17 of the last 21 meetings. Amherst has not tasted victory on Weston Field since 1985.