Tufts drops football 17-7

The last time Tufts beat Williams football, most members of either team hadn’t been born. Breaking a 22-year long drought, Tufts (3-2) capitalized on costly Eph turnovers to seal the victory, 17-7. Saturday’s stagnation was a complete turnaround from the week before, when Williams downed Middlebury, 50-45, in one of the greatest offensive slugfests in the program’s history.

The men never really got the ball rolling against Tufts. With just 227 yards of total offense, the Ephs found the end zone only once all day. “The past two weeks we have had trouble playing well on offense and defense in the same game,” Head Coach Mike Whalen said. “Against Middlebury obviously the offense clicked and the defense struggled and this past weekend against Tufts our defense played very well and our offense simply wasn’t ready to play.”

Although Pat Moffitt ’11 (17-for-34 for 107 yards passing) threw no interceptions, he also threw no touchdowns. Co-captain Brian Morrissey ’09 was the offensive standout, rushing for 107 yards on 22 carries. Elijah Weeks ’09 (six carries, 26 yards) scored the Ephs’ lone touchdown.

Statistically, Tufts performed little better than Williams on offense. The Jumbos gained 247 yards of total offense, just 108 yards through the air. Single-handedly accounting for much of the team’s offense, NESCAC leading rusher Will Forde amassed 130 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

The deal-breaker was the turnovers. With two fumbles deep in their own territory, the Ephs handed the Jumbos crucial scoring opportunities.

It was one of those breakdowns that led to Tufts’ first score of the game. With about a minute left in the first quarter, the Ephs fumbled the ball which the Jumbos recovered on the Williams 36. The Jumbos settled for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

With just over six minutes left in the half, the Jumbos fumbled the ball in their own territory. Starting from the Tufts 49, the Ephs scored their first and only touchdown off a one-yard run from Weeks. Williams carried the 7-3 lead into halftime.

On their first drive of the half, the Ephs again fumbled away possession – this time Tufts returned the fumble to the Williams six yard line. Six seconds later, the Jumbos were in the end zone and in the lead, 10-7.

After Williams went three-and-out on its next possession, Tufts put together its most impressive drive of the game. On the first play of the Jumbo drive, Forde broke a 70-yard run, bringing the ball into the red zone. Three plays later Forde took the ball the rest of the way to give his team a 17-7 advantage.

For the next 25 minutes, the Jumbos held the visiting Ephs scoreless and walked away with their first victory over Williams since 1986. “You have to [give] the Tufts defense credit,” Whalen said. “Their kids played hard and really took it to us.” 

A week earlier, the Middlebury defense did nothing of the sort, as Williams rumbled to an 50-45 victory.

The Ephs set a number of personal and school records en route to their third win of the season, including the school record for total yards with 590. With 218 yards on just seven receptions, Nick Caro ’10 set the Williams record for yards receiving. Morrissey became only the fourth Eph rusher since 1973 to reach the 2,000 yard mark, chalking up 161 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Moffitt also had a breakout performance, passing for 381 yards (20-for-29) and four touchdowns.

This Saturday, Williams will travel to Hamilton.