Seven days after going down to the final play of the game against Tufts in a 28-21 win, the Williams football team exploded past the Hamilton Continentals Saturday and cruised to a 42-13 at Weston Field.
From the first play in the game to the blow of the final whistle, Williams had total control over its opponents, dominating on both sides of the ball. The Ephs, last defeated by Wesleyan in 1997, lengthened their winning streak to 15 games. After the grueling victory against Tufts last week, Saturday’s easy win gave the Ephs some needed respite before taking on Little Three rival Wesleyan November 6 in Middletown.
“I think it was a good confidence builder for us to come out and dominate a team like that,” tailback Fred Storz ’01 said. “It was great to come out and score early like that and exploit some things that they were doing.”
Against Hamilton, the Ephs jumped to a two-touchdown advantage in the first six minutes of the contest and never looked back. Though Williams was forced to punt on its first drive of the game, the Continentals roughed Eph punter Jarod Kidd ’02 for a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down. Williams capitalized on Hamilton’s error, scoring on a Fred Storz ’01 romp to the end zone.
On the Conts’ next possession, linebacker Chris Hale ’00 picked off a Robbie Peters pass, giving the Ephs the ball deep in Hamilton territory. Sean Keenan ’00 capitalized on Hamilton’s second major mistake of the game, tossing a 37-yard bomb to a streaking Matt Student ’01 down the sideline en route to the end zone. Without blinking, the Ephs were up 14-0.
Hamilton’s offense struggled to put points on the board all day against the second-ranked scoring defense in the nation. Hamilton finally scored a touchdown late in the second quarter on the stingy Eph defense, but it came only after the Continentals had allowed four touchdowns of their own.
“I thought we did well with guys stepping up for the injury to (cornerback Casey) Flavin ’00 and some other guys out at times in practice,” safety Dan Dicenzo ’01 said. “It was great to close the door early against a team that could potentially hang around with us if we kept it close.” While Hamilton struggled, the Williams’s offense was hitting on all cylinders. The Ephs were too big, too fast and too much for Hamilton on the day. With teams keying on the strong running game of Fred Storz, the air attack opened up. Hamilton’s secondary played soft coverage all day, allowing the top-rated passer in the conference to decimate the Continental defense. Keenan threw for 187 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Besides the strike to Student, Keenan also hit Andrew Criqui ’00 for a touchdown in the second quarter when Criqui made a gorgeous sliding catch in tight coverage.
Storz ran for a tough 47 yards in the first half, but more importantly, scored three touchdowns. Student’s touchdown in the first quarter tied an Eph single-season record for most receiving touchdowns with seven. Before the end of the half, Williams scored a fifth touchdown, its highest one-half total this season. Shortly after halftime, the coaches on both sidelines elected to bring in replacements for their first-string players. The Ephmen believed that the rest that many of the starters got in the second half will be important this weekend at Wesleyan.
“I think it’s really important that some guys got to rest a little, because we’re more banged up than people realize.,” Dicenzo said. “Of course it’s always good to come out without any serious injuries, too.”
Alexi Evriviades ’01 picked off Peters at the beginning of the third quarter and returned the ball to the Hamilton three-yard line. Williams scored two plays later, this time on a run by fullback Kenny Ojukwu ’01 to put the Ephs up 42-6. With the second and third team squad players in, the tempo of the game changed. Williams threw only three passes in the second half.
However, Williams also showed that it is deep as well as talented. The Eph running game did not lose any steam when Storz left. Highly capable backup David Kinsley ’01 rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries in the final two quarters. The Ephs finished with a season-high 200 yards rushing in the game.
“Execution-wise we should be where we are,” Storz said. “We’re pretty happy with things, but we can certainly improve in some areas. We want to establish the run better and make sure that with a great receiver like Mike Paolercio ’00 out with an injury, it’s nice to know that others can come in so we don’t lose a step. Colin Brooks ’02 did a nice job this week and others are ready if needed.” Hamilton scored a token touchdown in the fourth quarter on a long run, but it was meaningless to the outcome of the game.
The Ephs were a level above the Continentals Saturday, revealing how dominating they can truly be on both offense and defense. This style of play will be critically needed when Williams travels to Wesleyan (4-2) this weekend. The Cardinals have one of the more explosive offenses in the league with the potent combination of quarterback Jake Fay and receiver Matt Perceval. The Ephs know that they must be on top of their game to compete with the dangerous foe.
“I think that secondary as a whole is doing a better job gelling after we lost Casey (Flavin),” Dicenzo said. “But Wesleyan is heads above the rest of the league on offense. Fay and Perceval are among the best in the league.”
“The biggest thing about playing Wesleyan is keeping their offense off of the field,” Storz said. “We have to keep the clock moving and can’t let them dictate the game. We can’t afford any mistakes this week.”