Football blazes past Trinity for 29-21 victory

Football (2-0) continued its successful start to the season with a hard-fought win over Trinity on Saturday. The Ephs ran with the connection between quarterback Pat Moffitt ’11 and newfound favorite receiver Darren Hartwell ’13, who together created three touchdowns and thus a 21-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Trinity rallied to bring the game close, but the Bantams made their move a little too late, leaving the score at 29-21 as the clock ran down for another Eph win. Williams versus Trinity has consistently been one of the most competitive matchups in the NESCAC, with the Ephs’ last win against the Bantams coming in 2006.

“[Saturday] was a great experience,” Hartwell said. “It was very exciting to be out on the field in such an electric atmosphere playing against a team of Trinity’s caliber. It was a pretty surreal experience: Once the game started, everything happened so quickly, and looking back I’m just glad I got the opportunity to go out and be a part of our victory.”

The teams remained mired in a 0-0 defensive grind until halfway through the second quarter, when Moffitt demonstrated Williams’ big play potential. With Trinity focusing on the run, Head Coach Aaron Kelton put the ball in Moffitt’s hands and let him go to work. Displaying his strong arm and pocket awareness, Moffitt connected with Hartwell for an impressive 83-yard touchdown reception halfway through the second quarter that really got the game going.

With the run game still being shut down in the second quarter, and running back Ryan Lupo ’11 held to just 42 yards on 27 carries on the game, Williams was forced to rely on Moffitt and Hartwell to keep the offense going. After the connection in the second quarter, the defense gave up a pass interference penalty but came back to force three straight incompletions. After the punt, the men had the ball deep in their own territory. Lupo rushed for a two-yard loss; Hartwell torched his single coverage for the second time and Moffitt found him again – this time for an 89-yard touchdown to give the Ephs a 12-0 lead. Chris Cleary ’12, who had missed both PATs, drilled a 34-yard field goal to make it 15-0 for Williams.

The defense was stellar throughout three quarters, led by defensive back and NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week Dan O’Mara ’12 with 11 tackles and tri-captain linebacker Dylan Schultz ’11 with 10 tackles. The Ephs only allowed the normally prolific Bantam offense to score seven points in 45 minutes. Unfortunately for Williams, Trinity was not going to be denied for the entire game. After Moffitt hooked up with Hartwell again for his third touchdown reception, tying the Williams record for most touchdown receptions in a game and increasing the lead to 29-7, the Bantams began to fight back.

Trinity put some good drives together, something the team had not done all game except for a scoring drive late in the third quarter. Taking advantage of two holding penalties, the Bantams completed two 20-yard passes with just over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the second of which was good for a touchdown. Williams kept a reduced but still dominant lead as the score held at 29-14. The Ephs responded by driving down the field, but the offensive drive was hampered by a tough pass rush and a delay of game penalty. The penalty forced a Cleary punt, giving Trinity the ball at the Bantams’ 10-yard line.

The defense was not able to get a key stop after Trinity recovered the ball, allowing a fourth down conversion that kept the drive alive. Trinity drove down the field and put the ball into the end zone after a 90-yard, 14-play drive for a 29-21 score. After watching its lead disintegrate to just eight points, Williams recovered an onside kick attempt by Trinity, and the offense drove down the field and went for it on a fourth down rather than kicking a field goal. The Ephs’ attempts were unsuccessful, but the Bantams were left with only 56 seconds on the clock and 88 yards to go. Time ran out with Trinity 14 yards away from the goal line, leaving Williams with its second conference win in as many weeks.

“Beating Trinity this week was huge, especially for our seniors,” Hartwell said. “I’m really glad we got to turn that around yesterday and pull it out for them. Trinity is always one of the toughest opponents on our schedule, and we knew they would keep battling, but it’s definitely a testament to the resilience of our defense that we were able to pull out a victory. This was a great team win.”

Kelton was also pleased with the results but is looking to keep the Ephs improving.

“We relaxed a bit in the fourth quarter, and they moved the ball on us,” Kelton said. “We need to get better at closing games out, and we will. Trinity is a good team and they made plays to put themselves in position to tie the game, but we made the plays when we had to.”

Williams will look to go 3-0 as the team travels to play its first road game of the season at Bates on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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