Ephs fall to Cardinals 22-0 on Homecoming

Photo courtesy of Sports Information Alex Scyocurka ’15 was limited by the Cardinals, gaining a mere seven yards on six carries for the Ephs last Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Alex Scyocurka ’15 was limited by the Cardinals, gaining a mere seven yards on six carries for the Ephs last Saturday.

Last Saturday, football (2-5) was blanked by Wesleyan 22-0 at Farley-Lamb Field on Homecoming. The Ephs’ offense never heated up on the cold afternoon, gaining only 120 yards through the air and just three on the ground; the defense was simply overpowered by the Cardinals’ rushing attack, which amassed 312 yards.

The first quarter was brutal for the Ephs, who could not get anything going at all. They failed to gain a first down, and quarterback Austin Lommen ’16 was picked off on just the third play of the game. The turnover resulted in just three points, however, as the defense held strong, forcing a 31-yard field goal, giving Wesleyan an early 3-0 lead.

The defense did all they could in the early going, forcing Wesleyan to kick three field goals. However, the offense continued to go three-and-out, which strained the hard-working defense. The Ephs nearly got things going after an electric kick return from Connor Harris ’18 put the Ephs at the Cardinals’ 41-yard line. The Ephs then gained their first first-down of the day but turned the ball over on downs shortly after.

Wesleyan led 9-0 and finally ended its quest for a touchdown with a nine-play, 79-yard drive culminating in a three-yard touchdown run. This drive gave Wesleyan a 16-0 lead with only 3:43 left in the first half. The Ephs finally put together a solid drive after the touchdown and came close to making the game a one-score contest. Darrias Sime ’16 was the driving force behind the near score as he made two first-down catches. However, the drive came to an abrupt end when, under duress, Lommen was picked off on a pass to the end zone. The half ended with the Ephs trailing 16-0. The men’s final drive accounted for 56 of the 64 yards the Ephs gained in the first half. This was in stark contrast to the Cardinals’ offense, whose primary running back gained 98 yards from scrimmage.

The second half was not all that different from the first. Williams continued to go three-and-out, and Wesleyan continued to kick field goals. The Cardinals punted just once in the contest, and made two more field goals from 23 and 25 yards, respectively. The Eph defense, however, performed admirably. They bent but refused to break. The offense continaully failed to capitalize on Wesleyan’s inability to score touchdowns, and the field goals began adding up to an insurmountable lead.

The Ephs made one last push in the fourth quarter on the backs of Jean-Luc Etienne ’15 and Alex Way ’16. However, after being forced into a fourth-and-five in Wesleyan territory, Lommen was sacked, effectively ending any hope of a comeback. The defense made one last stand, forcing Wesleyan over on downs from inside the five-yard line, but the game ended at 22-0.

The defense was on the field for 41:40 compared to just 18:20 for the offense. The defense was not without blame as they allowed Lou Stevens of Wesleyan to rush for 192 yards on 32 carries, but such a disparity in time of possession almost always spells trouble.

Lommen had a disappointing day, going 12-24 for 101 yards and two interceptions. Etienne was the leading rusher; however he only gained 13 yards on 4 carries. The normally explosive Alex Scyocurka ’15 was limited to seven yards on six carries. Sime, Etienne and Way led the Eph receivers, but none had over 30 yards receiving.

This miserable homecoming loss marked the first time that Wesleyan has defeated Williams in Williamstown since 1984. It also marked the largest margin of victory for Wesleyan over Williams in almost 100 years and was the first time Wesleyan shutout Williams since 1956. Williams still holds the overall record of 76-39-5 over Wesleyan.

This Saturday, the men play at Amherst in “The Biggest Little Game in America.” This heated rivalry has been played annually since 1884. It is the most played Div. III rivalry game, and the fourth most played NCAA game at any level. Williams leads the all-time series 71-51-5. This has been a bad year for the Ephs, but the season is not completely lost. Although Amherst has already clinched the NESCAC title, and the Ephs are sitting toward the bottom of the standings, the Ephs can still ruin the Jeffs’ pursuit of a perfect season and end a three-game losing streak to the Jeffs. There is also pride on the line, as captain Tom Cabarle ’15 put it, “This is the last game ever for this group of seniors, so we are going to leave everything on the field.”