Football seals first winless season

Steve Bohling ’20 rushed for 56 yards against a stout Amherst defensive line on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Steve Bohling ’20 rushed for 56 yards against a stout Amherst defensive line on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

In the 131st “Biggest Little Game in America,” football (0–8, 0–8 in the NESCAC) fell to archrival Amherst by a score of 28–3.

This is Amherst’s sixth straight victory over Williams, tying its longest streak ever against the College. However, the Ephs still hold a commanding series advantage, 71–55–5.

After an uneventful first possession for Williams, Amherst’s first play resulted in a turnover; Jake Mohan ’20 picked off the underthrown pass with a diving play at the Amherst 40-yard line.

A facemask penalty gave the Ephs a first down up to the 24, followed by a pass to running back Noah Sorrento ’19 underneath for another first down. Williams, however, was unable to find the end zone and settled for a 22-yard field goal that Adam Regensburg ’18 knocked through.

Amherst answered quickly. Jack Hickey’s first carry of the game went for 30 yards, deep into Williams territory, and, two plays later, Nick Morales found a wide open Devin Boehm in the end zone to put Amherst on top 7–3 with 6:44 left in the first quarter.

After this flurry of scoring, the game settled into a rhythm defined by strong defensive play rather than offensive production. Big sacks by linemen Sam Gowen ’18 and tri-captain Chris Hattar ’18 brought consecutive Amherst drives to an end, while a Sorrento fumble and an interception by Amherst defensive back Nate Tyrell hampered Williams’ efforts to score

Tyrell’s interception, which he returned to the Williams 16-yard line, set up Amherst for a scoring opportunity, but a stout Williams defense forced a field goal attempt. Amherst tried to fake the kick as the holder, Craig Carmilani, dropped back to pass, but linebacker Russell Monyette ’17 wrapped him up and knocked the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by tight end John Dillon ’17 at the Williams 40, giving the men promising field position with around five minutes left in the half.

Relying on strong rushing by the quick Steve Bohling ’20, who earned three first-downs in his first four carries, the Ephs arrived at the Amherst 2-yard line with less than a minute to play. They could not socre the go-ahead touchdown, however, as Amherst lineman John Callahan came up with two clutch defensive stops on the third and fourth downs to keep Williams out of the end zone and preserve Amherst’s 7–3 lead going into halftime.

Amherst scored on its first three drives of the second half while holding Williams scoreless.

Amherst quarterbacks Morales and Alex Berluti demonstrated their accuracy, first with Morales threading the ball through tight coverage to Boehm for a 55-yard touchdown on the fifth play of the second half. On the next drive, Berluti threw to Nick Widen just past the outstretched fingers of an Eph defender for a 56-yard gain. That set up a touchdown pass from Berluti to his brother Bo, putting the Jeffs up 21–7.

Taking advantage of an interception by linebacker Evan Boynton, Amherst then found the end zone once more, this time on a 31-yard pass from Morales to Bo Berluti in the back of the end zone, bringing the score to 28–3.

Amherst’s pass rush turned up the heat in the fourth quarter, registering four sacks totaling 41 yards and seriously hindering Williams’ offensive production. While the Williams defense held the Amherst offensive attack scoreless in the final quarter, and cornerback Ben Anthony ’20 was able to come up with an interception and a 25-yard return, Williams was unable to overcome the constant pass rush by Amherst and failed to score in the second half.

Amherst, who put together back-to-back perfect seasons the previous two years, struggled this year against top NESCAC teams and finished the year at .500. The Ephs’ 0–8 performance, meanwhile, marks their first winless season since 1947.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t send our seniors out with the win we wanted so badly,” tri-captain Mike Berry ’18 said. “However, I am proud of how our team never folded and fought until four zeros showed up on the clock. We showed glimpses of playing great football. We can’t wait to attack the off-season.”