Football (4-2) moved into third place in the NESCAC with a victory in a low-scoring affair against Hamilton (2-4) on Saturday. The Ephs scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and held on to dispose of the Continentals 14-7.
Quarterback Chris Cleary ’12 came off the bench to make his first appearance since the team’s Oct. 1 matchup with Bates. Cleary left that contest in the first quarter with a sprained ankle. Running back Tom Wohlwender ’13 did not play in the game. He left the Oct. 22 game against Tufts with a concussion. “Tom was cleared to play, but we wanted to get him some rest,” Head Coach Aaron Kelton said. “He’ll be back next week.”
Williams’ defense set the tone early, as Chris Cameron ’13 sacked Hamilton’s quarterback Jordan Eck for a loss of 12 yards on the opening possession and the team forced a punt. The offense turned in a three-and-out on the next drive, but the defense contained the Continentals. Colin Curzi ’12 sacked Eck for nine yards on first down before Nikola Mirkovic ’12 toppled the beleaguered quarterback for eight yards on a third-and-19. Pinned to his own two-yard line, Hamilton’s Garret Hoy managed a 30-yard punt on fourth down, which rookie Tom Cabarle ’15 returned 18 yards to the Hamilton 14 with eight minutes left in the first.
Marco Hernandez ’14 was stuffed for a loss of two on first down. Quarterback Adam Marske ’14, who started the game, connected with co-captain JC Stickney ’12 for nine yards on second down before Kristian Lapointe ’14 carried the ball for a yard. Williams went for it on fourth-and-two at the Hamilton six, and Marske hit Stickney, this time for a six-yard touchdown. Joe Mallock ’14 converted the extra point, and the Ephs took a 7-0 lead with six minutes left in the first.
Hamilton threatened on its next drive, charging to the Williams 16. On fourth-and-two, Eck threw up a pass, but co-captain Dan O’Mara ’12 intercepted it and returned the ball 56 yards to the Hamilton 34 before he was brought down by Eck.
“Dan’s started to do a good job of reading what the offense is trying to do,” Kelton said. “He’s come into his own lately.”
On the Ephs’ ensuing drive, Hernandez rushed for three yards on first down. Marske fired a 31-yard pass to Stickney, who carried the ball to the end zone. Mallock’s kick split the uprights to put Williams ahead 14-0 with one minute remaining in the first.
Cleary replaced Marske at quarterback in the second. On his first drive, he threw for three first downs to get Williams in field goal range at the Hamilton 26. Mallock came on to attempt the 43-yard field goal, but his kick was short. The score remained 14-0 in the Ephs’ favor with five minutes left in the half.
“[Cleary] is getting healthy, he just has to knock some rust off,” Kelton said. “Having both Chris and Adam healthy is something that’ll help us out.”
The defense kept Hamilton at bay in the second, and Williams went to the lockers with a 14-0 lead.
The Ephs had a scoring opportunity with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Emmanuel Whyte ’13 intercepted Eck’s pass at Hamilton’s 22 and returned the ball to the Hamilton 15. Hernandez rushed for four yards on first down, but Marske was unable to connect on pass attempts to Darren Hartwell ’13 on the ensuing two downs. Mallock attempted a 28-yard field goal, but his kick sailed wide right, leaving Williams ahead 14-0.
Eck continued to struggle in the third quarter, and the Continentals could not muster any offense against a sturdy Williams’ defense. As the quarter ended, Marske converted a third-and-six with an 18-yard pass to Stickney to put the Ephs at the Continentals’ 49. An incomplete pass and a false start pushed Williams to a second-and-15 at its own 46, but Marske connected with Ryan Prokesch ’14 for six and Tomas Kearney ’12 for eight at the start of the fourth quarter to garner a fourth-and-one at the Continental 40. Marske broke off a 30-yard run to give Williams a first-and-goal on the Hamilton 10. A complete pass to Hartwell took the Ephs four yards, but a holding penalty pushed them back to the 11-yard line. Marske rushed for one yard on third down before Mallock came on to attempt the 27-yard field goal. The Eph’s kick missed its mark for the third time, knocking the ball wide right, and the score remained 14-0 with just over 12 minutes to play.
“Our kicking game has to get better,” Kelton said. “Saturday the wet conditions were really a problem for us, but we’ll get back on track.”
Taking the ball at his own 20 on the next drive, Eck muscled Hamilton to an 80-yard scoring drive. The Continental alternated carrying the ball himself and passing to reach the Ephs’ end zone and tighten the game to 14-7 with less than five minutes left in the game.
Williams kept it on the ground in its next three drives, and the defense contained Hamilton as time ran down. Co-captain Dylan Schultz ’12 forced a fumble when he sacked Eck for six yards on the Continentals’ final drive of the game. Cameron recovered the fumble at the Hamilton 15, and Williams ran off the final 50 seconds of the clock.
Marske was 10-20 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and Cleary was 5-8 for 38 yards. Stickney led the receivers with 64 yards and two touchdown receptions. Hernandez carried the ball 18 times for 56 yards.
The defense combined to sack Eck five times in the game. Cameron led the way with seven tackles, a fumble recovery and a 12-yard sack. Cameron was named the NESCAC Defensive Co-Player of the Week for his performance. “We get everything out of Chris,” He’s a tremendous athlete. and he’s been solid all year.” O’Mara had a 56-yard interception, and Whyte snared a seven-yard interception.
Williams will take on Wesleyan (3-3) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in its final away contest before its Homecoming game against Amherst (6-0) on Nov. 12.
“We haven’t played a complete game yet,” Kelton said. “We want to play a complete game against Wesleyan on offense, defense and special teams.”