Football (1-0) opened up its season with a solid win in Aaron Kelton’s first game as head coach on Saturday. Kelton guided the Ephs to a 33-15 win over the Polar Bears behind consistent offensive production and a defense that managed to get five takeaways.
“There is always a nervous energy there before every game: first, 20th, 50th, whatever,” Kelton said. “I felt excited. We were well-prepared, and it was just a matter of the guys going out, disciplined, and doing the things they were taught to do. They did a good job. We knew Bowdoin was going to be potent offensively. There is definitely something to be said for the live part of the game.”
The Ephs elected to receive after winning the coin toss and started off the game right. Star running back Ryan Lupo ’11 got the drive going with three runs of seven, 10 and 16 yards. Quarterback Pat Moffitt ’11 completed passes to tri-captain Bryce Bennett ’11 to keep the drive going, ending with a 15-yard completion to Bennett for a touchdown to give Williams a 7-0 lead after Chris Cleary ’12 converted the PAT.
A strong performance by Lupo, along with timely forced turnovers, led the Ephs to victory. Lupo rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries while Alex Scyocurka ’14, his counterpart at running back, rushed for 67 yards on 10 carries. “[Lupo] had a good football game,” Kelton said. “Once he settled down in the first half he put together some great runs and really kept some drives going. What is really important is how [Alex] came in and relieved him. That is going to be a nice backfield for us all season, and other teams will really have to watch out for that.”
The Ephs were struggling through the second quarter, but they still put on a fantastic 11-play, 70-yard drive that lasted 3:26 to extend their lead. Moffitt did a great job of distributing the ball, Scyocurka added some good rushes and Lupo put his signature on the drive with an 18-yard rush before capping it off with a 6-yard touchdown run. Cleary again nailed the ball through the uprights for a 14-0 advantage. The large lead was short-lived, however, as Bowdoin put on a passing display as time wound down, completing three of four passes for 51 yards before scoring on a 22-yard reception to cut the lead to eight after the PAT was blocked.
Bowdoin came out after halftime and put together another solid drive, cutting the lead to 14-12 after the two-point conversion failed. It looked like the Polar Bears were headed for another good drive when Pat Barren ’11 intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, marking a turning point in the contest. Barren ran the ball back over 50 yards for the score, bringing the game to 21-12 in favor of the Ephs. Williams added 12 insurance points to close out the game 33-15.
“The interception return by Barren for a touchdown was a big turning point in the game,” Kelton said. “[Bowdoin] also turned the ball over in the red zone, and if you don’t score in the red zone it is tough to stay in the game. One or two plays [can] make the difference, and that play helped us and took some wind out of their sails.”
Although they forced a whopping five turnovers, four fumbles and one interception, the defense gave up 368 yards of total offense along with two receiving touchdowns and 451 all-purpose yards on the game. Of those 368 yards, 316 were receiving yards on only 29 completions.
“Long way to go,” Kelton said. “We aren’t close to where we can be. We need to improve on our pass protection a little bit and definitely our kicking. On defense we need to be more stout. I wasn’t pleased with the yardage we gave up at certain parts of the game. I was pleased that we created turnovers, but you cannot expect to get those opportunities in every game.”
Williams will next face off against Trinity, when the Bantams travel to Williamstown for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday.