Football dominates Hamilton

Strong wind and heavy rain could do little to dampen football’s (4-2) offensive firepower on Saturday, as Williams cruised to a 34-9 victory over Hamilton (2-4). The Ephs racked-up 425 yards of total offense (223 passing, 202 rushing) en route to their fourth straight win. Meanwhile, the defense held the Continentals to 46 yards rushing and forced five turnovers.

Despite driving into Continental territory on their first two possessions of the game, the Ephs failed to find the endzone in the first quarter. A turnover on downs and an interception kept Williams off the scoreboard.

But by the end of the quarter a John Snipes ’08 interception followed by the 40-yard reception of co-captain Jeff Egizi ’07 set the Ephs in motion. Williams continued its drive in the second, when the team notched its first score less than a minute into the period. Brian Morrissey ’09 capped the 80-yard drive with his 23-yard touchdown run. The junior running-back amassed 113 of his 162 yards and two of his three touchdowns in the first half.

“On offense, establishing the [running] game was key, especially with the weather conditions,” Head Coach Mike Whalen said. “Brian Morrissey ran very hard and had a lot of yards after first contact.”

A little more than five minutes later Williams made a return visit to the endzone. Co-captain Pat Lucey ’08 connected with Nick Caro ’10 on a 23-yard pass for the score. The Ephs added a two-point conversion to take a 14-0 lead.

Williams then forced Hamilton to punt on its ensuing drive and followed up with another touchdown, this time on a three-yard Morrissey run. Hamilton finally got on the board with three minutes left in the half. After marching into Eph territory, the Continentals kicked a field goal to go into the break trailing 21-3.

On their first drive of the second half, the Ephs orchestrated a 72-yard push on six plays, culminating in Morrissey’s third and final touchdown of the game.

Down 28-3, the Continentals responded immediately. On the ensuing kickoff Hamilton’s Claudius Zorokong returned the ball 83 yards for the score. A failed two-point conversion attempt left Hamilton in a 19-point hole.

After the Ephs punted for the first time of the day on their next drive, Hamilton threatened in Williams territory. But co-captain Jordan O’Reilly ’08 put an end to the Continental drive, forcing a fumble which was recovered by fellow linebacker Jon Pritchard ’08. The Ephs are now tied for second in the NESCAC with a plus-eight turnover margin, a notable improvement since the eight turnovers they committed against Bowdoin in their season opener.

“On defense we again stepped up when it counted,” Whalen said. “We must get better in third and long situations, as our opponents are converting first downs at a very high percentage. That being said, our defense has been coming up with big plays in the red zone and keeping our opponents out of the endzone.”

The final score of the day came with 13:42 left in the fourth quarter when Lucey found Egizi in the endzone on a five-yard pass. With it the Ephs took a resounding 34-9 lead. The touchdown was Lucey’s second. The senior quarterback completed 14 of his 25 attempts for 223 yards. “Pat Lucey made some big throws and our receivers caught the ball well in traffic,” Whalen said. “To be able to throw the ball as well as Pat Lucey did yesterday in those conditions is really amazing.”

A waterlogged field and tight Williams defense kept Hamilton from scoring in the remaining 13 minutes of play. In that time, Will Cronin ’10 came up with two interceptions.

Williams will close out the season with a game next Saturday at Wesleyan in front of the Cardinals’ homecoming crowd, followed by the Ephs’ Homecoming match-up against Amherst on Nov. 10.

“For us these last two weeks are our playoffs,” Whalen said. “We have the opportunity to play two very good football teams in front of big crowds and at the same time try to win a Little Three championship. You couldn’t ask for a better way to end the season.”