Football (1-1) suffered a heartbreaking 17-13 loss to Trinity on Saturday.
The men led 13-3 at halftime, but could not hold on through the second half as Trinity scored two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Williams showed its defensive prowess during Trinity’s first drive of the game. After struggling to contain the Bantams as they marched down the field with eight consecutive running plays, Mike Flynn ’15 pulled out a sack against the Trinity quarterback. The Ephs then blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt by Bantam Tim Costello to regain possession.
Capitalizing on the opportunity, the Ephs then orchestrated a 78-yard drive that began with a 46-yard pass from quarterback Adam Marske ’14 to tri-captain Darren Hartwell ’13. The drive ended with runningback Marco Hernandez ’14 pounding the ball into the endzone on fourth down. After Joe Mallock ’14 added the PAT, Williams claimed a 7-0 lead. Mallock’s performance on Saturday earned him his second consecutive NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week nod.
After forcing Trinity to go three-and-out, the men manufactured a six-play drive that resulted in a 34-yard field goal by Mallock, giving Williams a 10-0 lead 14:15 into the second. Trinity countered with a nine-play drive, leading to a successful 37-yard field goal attempt and a 10-3 tally.
Both teams went three-and-out on their next drives, but the Ephs added to their lead with another Mallock field goal, this time from 43 yards and for a 13-3 lead with just under four minutes to go before halftime. The Bantams tried to add a field goal with under a minute in the second, but the Ephs came up with a second block.
“We had a strong first half and were able to gain the lead, but we let up a bit and missed some opportunities to score,” Hartwell said of the men’s first half of play.
Such opportunities did not come often in the third quarter. After forcing Trinity to punt in the opening drive of the third quarter, Williams managed just one first down before having to punt as well. The men would not get another first down for the rest of the game.
While the Eph offense encountered setbacks in the second half, the defense put an end to multiple Bantam drives in the third quarter.
“I thought our defense played a great game and put forth a strong effort to keep us in the game when our offense was struggling,” Hartwell said.
However, in the fourth quarter, the Ephs’ defense finally cracked, as the Bantams put together an 11-play drive that ended in a touchdown. On this drive, Trinity quarterback Ryan Burgess was successful on two fourth-down conversions, including a 22-yard pass to teammate AJ Jones for a score. After Costello made the PAT, Williams was left with a three-point lead at 13-10.
Williams could not respond on its next drive, going three-and-out and giving Trinity another opportunity to score. The Bantams capitalized when Burgess connected with Jones again for a 45-yard touchdown. Costello’s extra point put the Bantams up 17-13 over the Ephs with just six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
“We felt like we outplayed Trinity for three quarters, but in the fourth quarter the defense made some mistakes that led to big plays,” tri-captain Chris Cameron ’13 said.
The Ephs were forced to punt after Marske was sacked on third down, in the hopes that the defense would give the team one more chance to score. However, the Bantams’ running game dragged out the final drive until the Ephs were out of timeouts and the Bantams could let the clock run out.
Marske finished the game completing 16 of 30 passes for 198 yards and one interception. Hartwell ended with 79 yards receiving; Hernandez led the team in rushing with 42 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries.
“I think the lesson to learn from this game is when you have a team on the ropes, you have to finish them and not let them hang around,” Cameron said. “We weren’t able to do that today and it cost us a victory.”
“It was a very disappointing loss for us,” Head Coach Aaron Kelton said. “Our team played hard and just didn’t finish the game.”
Despite the loss, Kelton remains optimistic about the season. “I think we have a good team who will be right in the thick of things coming down the stretch,” he said. “We can still reach our goal of winning the NESCAC Championship.”
Williams faces stiff competition next week: The team will travel to Bates on Saturday for its first road game of the season. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.
“We are facing a tough Bates team next weekend that beat us last year, so we will definitely be working hard this week to bounce back and get to 2-1,” Hartwell said.