Behind a record-setting performance by the defense, football rolled to an easy 23-0 win over Hamilton (0-6) on a blustery Saturday afternoon at Weston Field. The win pushed the Ephs’ record to 6-0 and kept them in a tie for the NESCAC lead with Amherst, which stole a 14-10 win from Tufts.
The defense was spectacular throughout the game, giving up 43 total yards, crushing the previous record of 105 yards set in 1995 against Wesleyan. They held Hamilton to three total yards rushing, 0.8 yards per play and only five first downs. The only time Hamilton entered Williams territory was after a Williams turnover late in the fourth quarter, and even then the Continentals failed to muster any scoring threat.
“It was mind-boggling to look at the numbers,” said head coach Dick Farley. “Our defense did a fine job. It was a total team effort. They had trouble passing the ball, and I think that was because our front line was doing a good job of rushing the passer.”
The Ephs’ dominance over the undermanned Continentals was evident from the opening kickoff. On their first drive, the Continentals were pushed back nine yards in three plays and immediately punted to the Ephs. After holding the Ephs without a first down, Hamilton got the ball back.
On this drive, the Continentals were only pushed back one yard, but this time Conan Leary ’02 rushed in and blocked the Hamilton punt. The ball rolled out of the endzone, giving Williams a safety and quick 2-0 lead.
Getting the ball at their own 41, the Ephs offense went straight to work. With wind blowing across the field, the Ephs chose to utilize their running game on Saturday. Using several runs by Mike Hackett ’04, Williams drove down to the Continental nine-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Joe Reardon ’04 rolled out and found tight end Sean Collins ’02 in the endzone for a touchdown. Scott Farley ’03 made the extra point and the Ephs had a 9-0 lead.
After another possession where Hamilton lost yards, the offense took over at Hamilton’s 45-yard line. With Swarthmore transfer Kenny Clark ’03 at tailback, the Ephs continued to run the ball right at Hamilton. Several Clark runs got Williams to the Hamilton one-yard line, where Wesley Connors ’05 dove in to give Williams a comfortable 16-0 lead at the start of the second quarter.
“We thought Ken deserved some carries,” said Farley. “He had a concussion so he was out for a couple of weeks, but he had a fine week of practice, along with a fine preseason and he’s done all the other stuff so the coaching staff felt he was deserving. Plus he was going against some of his old coaching staff.”
From there, Williams coasted into the half. The Ephs had two more drives that got deep into Hamilton territory, but both times, the Continentals defense held strong and forced the Ephs to turn the ball over on downs. The Ephs defense, though, continued to dominate Hamilton, allowing zero total yards and one first down total in the first half.
Midway through the third quarter, Williams put the game out of reach. Starting again in great field position, Reardon hit Ryan Friend ’03 for a 31-yard pass to get the Ephs deep into Hamilton territory. Three plays later, fullback Tyler Shea ’04 ran in from six yards out, pushing the lead to 23-0.
With the outcome certain, Coach Farley used much of his bench for the rest of the game. Even with the reserves in, the defense still overmatched the first string Hamilton offense. In the second half, the defense allowed only four first downs, 43 yards and kept the Continentals off the scoreboard. Farley also gave backup quarterbacks Jake Moore ’04 and Mike Keenan ’05 time under center. In his first significant time at Williams, Keenan went 1-4 for ten yards; Moore was 3-5 for 45 yards.
In the record-setting performance, there were several impressive individual performances. Lineback Jeff Goldwasser ’04 lead the team with 10 tackles, tri-captain James Kingsley ’02 had two of the nine Ephs sacks, and lineman Mark Rosenthal ’03 had three tackles for losses.
On offense, Reardon was effective in very difficult conditions; completing 13-18 passes for 157 yards, while Hackett ran through the Continentals defense for 95 yards on 17 carries.
Now 6-0, the Ephs will travel next Saturday to Connecticut to take on Little III rival Wesleyan.
“They’re an air show; they are very impressive,” said Coach Farley. “They have a very talented quarterback and several fine receivers. They didn’t play well against Amherst and we beat them up last year, so they will be trying to get some atonement. It’s also their homecoming and a Little III game.”
A win Saturday will give the Ephs an undefeated record going into Homecoming. Kickoff is noon Saturday at Wesleyan.