Football shuts out Jeffs, 20-0

Coming into Saturday’s matchup, Amherst had the highest rated defense in the conference, but after 60 minutes of competition it was Williams that proved it had the superior defensive stopping power. For the first time since 1995, the Ephs (6-2) shut out their archrivals, holding the Jeffs (4-4) to a dismal 146 total offensive yards (66 rushing, 80 passing), in a 20-0 Homecoming victory. The win gave Williams, which has not lost to Amherst at home since 1985, its 45th Little Three title.

“Our defense played their best game of the season,” Head Coach Mike Whalen said. “They have a lot of pride and when things weren’t going well earlier in the season, they didn’t point fingers at each other, but rather got together as a group and decided that they were going to work together and get back to the level they knew they were capable of playing.”

The Ephs forced four turnovers while surrendering none themselves. John Snipes ’08 recorded two interceptions while Luke Moran ’08 had one and Tim Batty ’09 recovered one fumble.

Two of those Amherst interceptions came in a first half which saw Amherst repeatedly foiled by Williams’ defense. In those first 30 minutes the Ephs more than quadrupled the Jeffs in total offensive yards, wracking up 216 to Amherst’s 50.

Despite not allowing an Amherst first down in the first quarter, Williams had trouble getting on the board early. Even a Homecoming crowd of 12,747 and Lee Corso’s wearing of a purple cow head in anticipation of a Williams victory couldn’t spark any first quarter points.

In the second quarter, however, things changed. Starting from the Amherst 42 co-captain Pat Lucey ’08 immediately went to work. On the fourth play of the drive he found a diving Nick Caro ’10 in the endzone on a 32-yard touchdown pass. Caro led all receivers on the day with 67 yards, along with four receptions and one touchdown. With the extra point the Ephs went up 7-0 with just under 15 to play in the quarter.

Although Amherst pushed into Williams territory for the first time on its ensuing drive, a Snipes interception cut short the Jeff’s offensive push. The Ephs failed to capitalize on their next possession, but controlled the tempo for the rest of the quarter, eventually putting up three more points by the end of the half off a 28-yard field goal from Scott Sobolewski ’10.

Things got no better for the Jeffs in the second half. After punting away its first possession, Amherst quarterback Lucas Loeffler was intercepted by Snipes for the second time.

With time winding down in the third quarter, Williams widened the gap. Lucey and the Ephs orchestrated their most impressive drive of the game, marching 78 yards downfield for the score. The senior quarterback connected once with Jon Carroll ’11 and twice with Kevin Flynn ’08 before running back Brian Morrissey ’09 punched it in on a six-yard touchdown run. Morrissey ran for a game-high 100 yards on 36 carries, giving him his sixth 100 yard-plus rushing performance of the year.

The third quarter ended with yet another turnover as Amherst fumbled away its possession and one of its opportunities to rebound.

The fumble set up the Ephs in good field position, and again the men made the most of it. Sobolewski knocked in a 27-yard field goal to give the Ephs a commanding 20-0 lead with just over 13 minutes left in the game. The rest of the quarter proved scoreless, and the Ephs marched off the field and down Spring Street in celebration of their third consecutive win over their rivals.

Whalen had high praise for his group of seniors, who leave the program with a four-year record of 26-6.

“I really can’t say enough about our senior leadership,” he said. “Obviously the season didn’t start well and being 0-2 after the Trinity game was not what anyone had expected. But I believe that it’s during those times of adversity that you find out the true character of your team. This senior class is a determined and resilient group. And for them to take this football team who was on the verge of being 0-3, back to finish the season at 6-2 and win the Little Three championship is amazing.”

One of those seniors, Lucey, leaves with an especially impressive individual record. With 19 completions on 32 attempts on the day, Lucey broke the College’s single-season records in both categories. His 37 touchdown passes puts him just one shy of Joe Reardon’s ’04 career mark. Lucey also led the NESCAC this year in completions (167), completion percentage (61.4), yards per game (244.9) and touchdowns (16).

Other Ephs also dominated the conference at their respective positions. At running back Morrissey dominated in virtually every rushing category. He amassed NESCAC-leading stats in yards per game (117.4), touchdowns (13), and attempts (214).

Ryan Powell ’09 led the conference with 92.8 receiving yards per game and 6.75 receptions per game. Flynn led the NESCAC with 134.9 all-purpose yards per game, while Morrissey (127.4) finished second in that category.