In the first game of the 2009 season football (1-1) completed a remarkable comeback drive to win the game in the final minutes against Colby. But the tables were turned last Saturday as the Ephs saw their lead slip away in the last two minutes of the game. Despite leading Trinity 21-19 with two minutes left in regulation, Williams lost 26-21.
The Ephs played last year’s NESCAC champions perfectly for three quarters but were unable to finish off the Bantams, giving up two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game. Trinity was able to recover an onside kick with 90 seconds left, and the Bantams then proceeded to put together the game-winning drive.
“We had a very good week of practice,” said Head Coach Mike Whalen when asked about how his team prepared to play against a dominant Trinity team that had previously won 31 home games in a row. “The kids were very focused, and they knew it was going to be a really tall task and it was going to be physical football. For 58 minutes, we outplayed them.”
Williams came out of the gate strong when Bryce Bennett ’11 returned the opening kickoff 47 yards to put the Ephs at the Bantams’ 42 yard line. Bennett’s return would not go to waste, as Pat Moffitt ’11 threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to the team’s leading receiver and tri-captain Nick Caro ’10, giving Williams an early 7-0 advantage.
Trinity responded with a field goal followed by a Moffitt interception that was returned 47 yards for a touchdown by Trinity cornerback Harry Melendez. At the end of the first quarter the score read 10-7 in Trinity’s favor.
Midway through the second quarter, the Ephs put together a quick 3:08 drive that was capped off by another Caro touchdown. This time it was a 24-yard reception thrown by quarterback Matt Coyne ’12 with kicker Chris Cleary ’12 burying the PAT, giving the Ephs an impressive 14-10 lead entering the break.
The Ephs were looking strong and were pleased going into the half. “There were some missed opportunities, but overall we were confident and having the lead was great,” said tri-captain Simon Kloeckner ’10.
The defense continued its impressive performance in the third quarter, allowing only an early field goal to the Bantams. In a well-orchestrated, syncopated drive that lasted just under six minutes, the Ephs moved the chains with successful rushes from Ryan Lupo ’11 and another huge play from Caro, a 31-yard reception thrown by Moffitt. The drive was capped off by Bennet rushing for a six-yard touchdown to give the Ephs a 21-13 lead with 1:43 left in the third quarter.
The two teams battled for much of the fourth quarter, and it appeared as if Williams had the game locked up. But as could be expected from a league champion, Trinity made a run near the end of the game in an attempt to preserve their 12-game winning streak and their 31-game home winning streak. Trinity scored with 1:41 left on the clock after quarterback Craig Drusbosky completed two huge passes to reduce the deficit to 21-19. Trinity attempted to tie the game with a two-point conversion attempt but the Ephs stuffed Drusbosky to keep the lead.
Trinity then attempted an onside kick that they recovered. With the paced quickened, the Ephs were unable to stop Trinity from quickly driving down the field. Using quick passes, Trinity moved the chains and scored another touchdown with only 14 seconds on the clock, leaving little chance for the men to make a dramatic comeback as they did against Colby.
Whalen took much of the blame for the loss after game. “[The onside kick] was a good kick, not a great one, but it hit us in the chest, and we weren’t able to recover,” he said. “They went down and scored. It was not any one play, it was 75 plays and 10 coaches lost this game. You can pick out 20 plays that would have helped us win this game so it was not just the onside kick.
“You have to play a full 60 minutes, that’s why they have a 31 game home winning streak,” he continued. “It is like in boxing â€“ if you are going to beat the champ you have to knock him out; you can’t just knock him down. We knocked Trinity down we just didn’t knock them out.”
“We felt like we were the better team but unfortunately we weren’t able to execute in the fourth quarter,” Kloeckner said. “The offense and defense both slowed down and things came apart. This was an extremely painful loss. We wanted the win, and we wanted to break up their 31 home game winning streak. But, we have six games left and for the seniors they are the last six games they will play. We need to come out and practice and prepare like we did last week, and we will be able to beat Bates.”
Football will look to move on when it plays its home opener against Bates (0-2) at 1 p.m. on Saturday.