Ephs shut out Continentals for 2nd straight win

Co-captain Alex Scyocurka ’14 had 50 rushing yards and one touchdown in the men’s 24-0 shutout over Hamilton last Saturday at Weston Field. - Photo Courtesy of Sports Information
Co-captain Alex Scyocurka ’14 had 50 rushing yards and one touchdown in the men’s 24-0 shutout over Hamilton last Saturday at Weston Field. – Photo Courtesy of Sports Information

After a 24-0 victory over Hamilton last Saturday, football (2-4) has now won two straight games.

The men were ready from the first whistle, racing out to a 7-0 lead on their first drive with a 10-yard touchdown run by co-captain Alex Scyocurka ’14. They built on this lead with a 21-yard field goal by Joe Mallock ’15. The three points extended the lead to 10-0 and marked the first time this year that the men scored on both of their first two possessions.

After this strong start, the offense stalled a bit and was not able to sustain a drive for the rest of the half.

The defense picked up where the offense left off with a sensational first half, holding the Continentals to zero points despite encountering a few precarious situations. When Scyocurka fumbled on the Ephs’ 20-yard line, the defense held strong, stopping the Continentals at the two-yard line on a third and goal. Starting cornerback and co-captain Nathan Saffold ’14 then blocked the short field goal attempt, which fellow defensive back Josh Helmkamp ’15 recovered.

Shortly after this, a pass from Adam Marske ’14 was intercepted, but nothing came of this as the Continentals were forced to punt. Later, a Hamilton drive was once again stopped by a relentless defensive effort, as James O’Grady ’16 intercepted a pass deflected by Saffold. Ultimately nothing came of this change in possession, and after a few more possessions for both teams, the half ended at 10-0.

Like the first half, the men started with a bang as defensive back Taysean Scott ’17 forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage. Just four plays later the men capitalized on this big play as Marske ran the ball nine yards into the end zone to put the men ahead 17-0.

On the next drive, the men again showed off their defensive might: James Howe ’16 had two sacks on consecutive plays. The second of these sacks resulted in a fumble that the Ephs recovered on the Continentals’ nine-yard line. However, the men weren’t able to turn great defense into offensive success and Mallock’s 33-yard field goal attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 17-0.

The men had two more impressive red zone stands – one toward the end of the third quarter and one at the beginning of the fourth. In the third quarter, Saffold kept the Continentals scoreless with an interception in the end zone. In the fourth quarter, the men stopped Hamilton on downs at the two-yard line after an impressive drive. The defense simply refused to break in the red zone. “We bent a couple times and let them move the ball, but in the red zone, we bucked up and used the short field to our advantage,” Saffold said.

The men capped the scoring with an impressive 87-yard drive that lasted just three plays. The drive was highlighted by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Marske to wide receiver Darrias Sime ‘16 that extended the lead to 24-0 with 6:55 remaining in the game.

Hamilton came close to ending the men’s hopes of a shutout when, due to some penalties committed by Williams, they found themselves at the five-yard line ready to score. The defense held firm once again to preserve the shutout and the 24-0 victory. “It felt good to put up a goose egg and get the win, but now we’re focused on beating Wesleyan,” Saffold said.

The men won Saturday primarily because of an overwhelming defensive effort. The men had 12 tackles for loss with seven sacks. “Our defensive line played another great game and never let the quarterback get comfortable in the pocket,” Saffold said.

The defense was led by Howe, who racked up seven tackles, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Howe has been on fire the last two weeks, amassing a total of 15 tackles and 7.5 sacks. Co-captain Ernest Higginbotham ’14, Mike Flynn ’15 and John McKenna ’14 all had sacks as well. The Ephs also forced two fumbles and had two interceptions.

The offense was efficient and capitalized on the good field position provided by the defense. Marske had a solid day, accounting for two touchdowns and throwing for 127 yards on 9-16 passing. His only blemish was an interception in the second quarter. The running game was also solid, averaging four yards per rush. The offense was lead by Sime, who had five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.

This win puts the men at 2-4 heading into their road game against Wesleyan, who remains undefeated and at the top of the conference, this Saturday. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. in Middletown, Conn. The men’s final game of the season will be the Homecoming matchup against Amherst on Nov. 9.