Football rolls over Wesleyan at Homecoming

Football (5-2) did not disappoint the Homecoming crowd of over 2500 gathered at Weston Field, rolling to a 48-14 victory over Wesleyan (1-6) on Saturday. In one of their most complete performances of the season, the Ephs amassed 471 total yards to the Cardinals’ 234.

“It was definitely our best effort on both sides of the ball so far this season,” co-captain Brian Morrissey ’09 said. “Our defense shut them down and our offense was clicking. We threw the ball really well. And as usual, our offensive line set the tone early.”
Receiving the opening kickoff, Wesleyan looked to put a damper on Williams’ Homecoming spirit. In a drive that took just three minutes, the Cardinals marched down the field and put themselves on the scoreboard first. The drive culminated in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Blake DuBois to receiver Steve Hauser.

After Williams failed to score on the ensuing drive, the slightly humbled defense retook the field. This time, however, the Eph defense, which leads the NESCAC in fewest points allowed per game, forced a Wesleyan three-and-out.

“Wesleyan came out ready to play and we came out a bit flat,” Head Coach Mike Whalen said. “Once we settled in, we started to play at a much higher level.  It was good to see that we didn’t panic and that we made the necessary adjustments on both sides of the football.”

From their second drive of the game, the Ephs kicked it into high gear, and steadily widened the gap between themselves and the Cardinals for the next 50 minutes. With a 12-yard completion from quarterback Pat Moffitt ’11 to Ryan Powell ’09 and a 13-yard run from Morrissey, Williams soon found itself within the red zone. For the next seven plays, the Ephs inched their way toward the end zone and eventually capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run from Morrissey.

Just under two minutes into the second quarter, Williams took the lead off another Morrissey touchdown. This time the captain ran it in from four yards out to bring the score to 14-7.

But Morrissey wasn’t quite finished with his first-half touchdown tally. After forcing a Wesleyan punt, Williams began yet another successful drive. Moffitt, Morrissey and Elijah Weeks ’09 all had a hand in a drive that brought the Ephs from their own 22 into the end zone. Morrissey again was the one to punch in the score, this time carrying it in on a five-yard run to collect his third touchdown of the half.

With 138 yards rushing on Saturday, the senior running back is currently 47 yards shy of the all-time Williams rushing record.
“Offensively it was a total team effort,” Whalen said. “The offensive line established our run game early and that opened up some things in the passing game. I thought Pat Moffitt [’11] played very well and made great decisions all day long. Stew Buck [’09] had a great game with over 100 yards in receptions, and of course Moe [Morrissey] had another good day running the ball.”

Just as it was looking as if Williams would run away with it, the Cardinals battled back into contention on their ensuing drive, marching 84 yards in just under five minutes to bring the score to 21-14. Quarterback DuBois orchestrated the drive with seven completions, including a nine-yard touchdown pass.

With 44 seconds left in the half and the Cardinals creeping back into the game, the Ephs put together their most gutsy drive of the game. Starting on their side of the 50, the men worked their way into reasonable scoring distance, with Moffitt hitting Buck on a 19-yard pass with nine seconds left on the clock.

The play set up kicker Scott Sobolewski ’10 for a long field goal opportunity. From 43 yards out, Sobolewski launched his kick through the uprights to give Williams the momentum and a 24-14 lead going into the break.

“I thought the fact that we were able to drive the ball down right before the half and kick a field goal gave us a huge boost going into halftime,” Whalen said. “Sobo is 100 percent healthy, and ending the first half with a 43 yard field goal gave us back the momentum.”

The second half belonged to Williams. For the final 30 minutes of the game, the defense held Wesleyan scoreless, as Powell, Brian Egan ’09 and Weeks all scored touchdowns. Sobolewski also chipped in another field goal halfway through the third quarter to make it a 27-14 game.

Wesleyan didn’t record another first down until less than seven minutes remained in the game. By that time the Ephs were up by what would be the final score of 48-14, and there was little the hapless Cardinals could do to reverse their misfortunes.

“The defense did a great job preparing all week and was really ready for the game,” co-captain Trevor Powers ’09 said. “Although they threw some new stuff at us on the opening drive, we adjusted our game plan, and the defense did a great job settling down for the rest of the game.”

Pat Barren ’11 led the defense with seven tackles, while Powers notched five tackles and Tim Batty ’09 forced a fumble in addition to having five tackles of his own. Dan O’Mara ’12 hauled in Saturday’s lone interception for either team.

Offensively, Moffitt completed 18-of-24 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. With 108 yards receiving, Buck was his favorite target, while Powell had 58 yards and a touchdown reception.

This Saturday, the Little Three title as well as bragging rights will be on the line, as Williams travels to Amherst to take on its archrival in the final game of the season. “Amherst (5-2) is a very good football team and we will have to play our best game of the season to have a chance to be successful,” Whalen said. “Their defense is very difficult to run against and they pursue to the football very well.  On offense they spread you out and make you cover the entire field.  They have a very good QB, great skill players and a physical offensive line.  Their coaches do an outstanding job preparing their players and since it’s their homecoming you know they will be excited to play us.”