After breaking a 13-game losing streak in its season opener, football (2–0) topped Colby 24-7 on Saturday in Waterville, Maine. The team has now won two consecutive games for the first time since 2013.
The Mules beat the Ephs 9-7 last season, but the men rolled out a vastly different lineup on Saturday, starting 10 first-years.
The game began with Colby receiving the kickoff and marching deep into Williams territory. Just outside of the red zone, the Eph defense forced a fourth down. Colby faked a punt, but an incompletion led to a turnover on downs.
The Ephs punted on their first drive, and the Mules started on their own 20. Colby was methodical on its way up the field, sticking to short throws and runs. The Mules marched into the red zone and converted the opportunity into a touchdown on a 6-yard pass from Jack O’Brien to Brandon Miner.
The teams traded possessions, being forced to punt due to limited offensive success. The Ephs then began an efficient drive down the field. Mainly with a mixture of long runs by Connor Harris ’18 and completions by quarterback Bobby Maimaron ’21, the men soon threatened to score. After a 14-yard catch by Justin Nelson ’21 that brought the ball to the Colby 1-yard line, Harris punched it in for a score at 7:01 of the second quarter.
Building off of the momentum, the Eph defense caused another three-and-out. TJ Rothmann ’21 and Desmond Butler ’19 stopped two plays for short gains, and O’Brien’s attempt for a third-down conversion was stopped by Jameson DeMarco ’19. Colby then brought out its punter on fourth down, but the snap was muffed and recovered by Christian Dumont ’19.
In great field position, the men looked for a second score. The Colby defense, however, was up for the challenge. On fourth and goal from the 3-yard line, head coach Mark Raymond faced a choice between going for a touchdown – risking a turnover – or settling for a field goal. Raymond took the safe option, and Min Kyu Park ’21 sent the 20-yard kick through the uprights.
With a 10-7 lead and possession to follow after halftime, the men ran out the clock.
Despite a 30-yard kickoff return by Nelson, the men were forced to punt. Adam Regensburg ’18 lofted a 48-yard punt that pinned Colby at its own 4-yard line.
The Mules were forced to punt, and a 9-yard return by Frank Stola ’21 gave the Ephs good field position.
Maimaron nearly linked up with a wide-open Stola in the end zone, but the Ephs were brought to fourth down. Park came on to attempt another field goal, but the kick sailed wide left from 34 yards out.
The Eph defense was unyielding in the third quarter, as it had been for the bulk of the game. The unit had its greatest test towards the end of the quarter when O’Brien led a strong drive with a mix of completions and quarterback runs. The Ephs, however, forced a field goal attempt for the Mules. Yet again, special teams stepped up, and Rothmann blocked Colby’s potential game-tying attempt.
After punting in five of its last six possessions, the Eph offense had another opportunity. On third and long, the men broke out with a big play. Maimaron threw into a crowded area, but Nelson somehow was able to catch the ball for a first down. He fumbled the ball after the catch, but Rashad Morrison ’21 recovered for the Ephs. Harris then took a catch-and-run 13 yards, breaking multiple tackles. To finish it off, Maimaron hit tight end Justin Burke ’21, who found the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. After Park’s kick, the Ephs led 17-7 with only 3:18 remaining.
After a few changes of possession, Colby had one last chance to cut the deficit. However, on first down, linebacker Austin Thomas ’19 sacked O’Brien and forced a fumble. Picking it up in stride, tri-captain Christopher Hattar ’18 returned the fumble 13 yards for a touchdown, extending the lead to 24-7, the final score.
The two teams were almost identically productive on offense, with the Ephs racking up 248 total yards to the Mules’ 241. Maimaron completed 16 of 29 passes on the day for 166 yards and a touchdown, while O’Brien was 24 of 43, with 129 yards and a touchdown. O’Brien was an aggressive runner, but the Eph defense limited him to only 36 yards on 22 rushes. Harris rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Colby’s Jake Schwern gained 71 yards on 15 attempts. Nelson led all receivers with 98 yards on six catches, and Ethan Smith paced the Mules with 49 yards on eight receptions.
Rothmann, NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week, had 19 tackles, including two for a loss. Jarrett Wesner ’21 had 14 tackles, Ben Anthony ’20 had 12 and Luke Apuzzi ’20 had nine. DeMarco and Thomas had 1.5 sacks each. Colby’s Don Vivian had 12 tackles, including a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
Regensburg was named NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week. He finished with seven punts, averaging 42.7 yards per punt. All five of his second-half punts placed Colby inside its 20-yard line.
Raymond said he was pleased with his team’s performance on Saturday. “I’m very proud of the effort we showed,” he said. “We got contributions from a lot of people, especially in the most critical points in the game.”
The men face a tough matchup on Saturday against Trinity, last year’s NESCAC champion.