For the second week in a row, football scratched out a fourth-quarter come from behind win to defeat the Jumbos of Tufts 36-28 on a cold, windy day outside Boston on Saturday. Key plays by linebacker Graham Goldwasser ’04, tailback Tim Crawley ’05 and cornerback Johnny Kelly ’03 within the last four minutes secured a game that saw 64 points, 833 yards of total offense and three second-half lead changes.
“A win’s a win,” said Head Coach Dick Farley. “Both sides of the ball made the plays when they had to, but we had too many mistakes. You can pass a class with a fairly low grade, so I guess we passed the class and we’re not going to summer school, but we didn’t make the dean’s list.”
The first crucial play was a momentum changing safety by Goldwasser that gave the Ephs a one-point lead and the ball with over three minutes to go. After a punt from Scott Farley ’03 rolled more than 30 yards to pin Tufts at their four yard line, Goldwasser read the snap count and blitzed through the offensive-line right as the ball was snapped. Jumbos’ running back Chuck McGraw was stopped in his tracks short of the goal line, earning two points for Williams.
“It was a result of great scouting,” Goldwasser said. “They came out in a formation that we knew that they ran predominately one play with. I called a blitz on my own, and I was able to get through and get him in the back of the endzone. It was pretty lucky, but it turned out well in the end.”
After the Tufts safety-kick gave Williams the ball at their own 35-yard line, Crawley immediately provided the next big play. Behind great blocking by the offensive line, Crawley spirited off the right side and then dodged several Tufts defenders on his way to a 65-yard touchdown. Farley’s extra point gave Williams a 36-28 lead with three minutes remaining.
“It was a real simple, off tackle play,” Crawley said. “The offensive line opened a real big hole for me, and I was able to get down field. [Offensive guard] Justin Classen ’03 gave me a huge block on the safety, and that really sprung me downfield.”
“The more he plays, the better he gets,” Coach Farley said of the emerging Crawley, who had his second straight 100-yard rushing game Saturday. Farley said Crawley’s development has given him the luxury of having two “starting” running backs on his team.
However, imitating the effort of the Ephs’ last opponent, Middlebury, Tufts did not give up after surrendering the lead late. Getting the ball back with two minutes left, Tufts drove to the Williams 10-yard line, aided by a 15-yard pass interference call against the Ephs. However, the Williams defensive backfield came through again, as Kelly jumped in front of Scott Treacy’s second-down pass and picked it off at the two, guaranteeing another thrilling Williams victory.
An Eph fourth quarter comeback looked to be highly unnecessary in the first quarter. Playing with the fierce wind that affected the passing and kicking games all day at their backs, Williams enjoyed great field position early on, helped by two quick defensive stops and the struggles of Tufts punter Brian Burbank.
The first Ephs offensive drive ended with quarterback Joe Reardon ’04 finding wide receiver Jamaal Mobley ’04 for a 12-yard touchdown. The next drive, beginning this time at the Jumbos 36-yard line, culminated with Tyler Shea ’04 plowing in from a yard out to give the Ephs as 14-0 lead eight minutes into the game.
After the Jumbos struck back to cut the lead down to 14-7, the offense came right back as Reardon connected with wide receiver Dave Sands ’03 for a 50-yard completion down to the Tufts 12-yard line. Three plays later, Reardon found wide receiver Ryan Friend ’03 to push the Eph lead back to 14 points at 21-7.
However, the Tufts defense tightened in the second quarter, and the Jumbos began to chip away at the Williams advantage. A wind-aided 49-yard field goal by kicker Marcellus Rolle and a Scott Treacy-to-Ryan Papi touchdown pass cut the lead down to 21-16 at the half.
On the first series of the second half, Reardon threw his second interception of the day, picked off by Evan Zupancic deep inside Williams territory. Using the short field, Tufts took the lead at 22-21 on Treacy’s one-yard run. Trailing for the first time, the Ephs were able to move through the Jumbos’ territory on the next two drives, but were unable to retake the lead â€“ Tufts’ Mark Tilki intercepted Reardon at the 6 yard line, and the Ephs were stopped on 4th down at the Tufts 26.
The Ephs’ defense, though, keep the lead at one with several key defensive stops, including a stand inside their own 10 yard line that lead to a 24 yard missed field goal by Rolle.
“That stand set the tone for the fourth quarter,” Goldwasser said. “It gave us the hope and pride to pull off those long drives that we had and for the defense stands that we had later on in the game.”
After the miss, Williams was able to retake the lead as Reardon hit Friend with a 65-yard pass down to the Tufts 4-yard line. After three failed attempts, Shea plunged in from a yard out for his second touchdown to give Williams the 27-22 lead.
Undaunted, Treacy and the Jumbos answered right back. Helped by a 15-yard facemask penalty that negated a Farley interception, Tufts moved 80 yards and scored on a Chris Roy touchdown catch to give Jumbos a 28-27 lead and setting up the dramatic conclusion.
With the win, the Ephs moved to 5-0 and became the only undefeated team in the NESCAC, as a result of Wesleyan’s 14-13 win over Amherst.