Football (1-0) proved to be a dominant force in its 41-7 victory over Colby on Saturday to open the season.
Led by quarterback Adam Marske ’14, the men gained an early lead and continued to run over the susceptible Colby defense throughout the game.
Concerns about the men’s young defense were quickly erased when defensive back Chris Kim ’14 forced a Mule fumble on the first play of the game that was picked up by Emmanuel Whyte ’13. Two plays later, Marske found tri-captain Darren Hartwell ’13 in the endzone for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Williams took a 7-0 lead after NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week Joe Mallock ’14 converted the PAT.
The Eph defense provided several defensive stops in the opening half, which gave the Williams offense a chance to pull ahead. “Our young defense did a solid job all day,” Head Coach Aaron Kelton said. A key contributor to the strong defensive performance was Kim, who completed the game with eight tackles, including two for a loss. “Kim played like an animal,” tri-captain Chris Cameron ’13 said. “He really set the tone for the whole game, and he led the team in tackles.”
After forcing the Mules to punt, Mallock knocked in a 39-yard field goal, extending the Ephs’ lead to 10-0 with 4:35 left to play in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Marske again connected with Hartwell for a six-yard touchdown pass. After Mallock’s extra point, Williams was up 17-0 with six minutes to go before the break.
Colby responded with a 77-yard drive, which ended in a 40-yard touchdown pass to Mike Lahiff with just three minutes left before halftime. David Bendit’s PAT brought the score to 17-7, but the men were quick to respond, scoring just 20 seconds later on a drive capped by a Marske touchdown pass to Jeff Reimann ’13. Mallock tacked on the extra point to put Williams up 24-7.
The third quarter started slowly, as both teams traded possessions without much success advancing the ball. As the quarter progressed, the Ephs’ offense finally broke through as Marco Hernandez ’14 scored on an eight-yard rush. Mallock added the PAT to make the score 31-7.
After this drive, Marske left the game having completed a remarkable 22 of 27 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns. “The offensive line did a great job protecting Marske and giving him time to throw,” Hartwell said.
With Thomas Murphy ’15 under center for the fourth quarter, the Ephs continued to extend their lead, beginning with a 42-yard field goal by Mallock that brought the score to 34-7.
The Ephs punctuated their strong efforts in converting after a miscue on the last scoring drive of the game: Kicker Luke Faust ’14 had a 36-yard field goal blocked by Colby’s special teams unit, but the loose ball was picked up by linebacker John McKenna ’14, who ran the ball into the endzone for the final touchdown of the game. Faust added the extra point to rack up a 41-7 Williams lead.
After forcing Colby to punt, Williams then ate up the clock with an eight-minute drive, highlighted by a fourth-down conversion that enabled Murphy to run out the clock and grant the team its first victory of the season.
Hartwell finished the game with eight receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Hartwell’s two scores brought his career total to 18, tying him with Brendan Fulmer ’07 for the school record in receiving touchdowns.
“I was really pleased with our performance as a whole,” Kelton said. “Our goal was to go 1-0, and we did that.”
Next week, the team faces Trinity on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Weston Field. Trinity beat Williams last year in a narrow loss that this year’s team is ready to avenge. “They are very physical and love to run the ball and play good defense, so next week is going to be a ‘grind-it-out’ game,” Cameron said.
“We still have to work on being more consistent on offense, but I think we are excited and confident heading into next week,” Hartwell said.