Football suffers 17-9 loss to Trinity despite stellar defensive effort

Running back Connor Harris ’18 scored the lone Williams touchdown in Saturday’s 17-9 loss to Trinity. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Football (2–1) suffered its first loss of the season last Saturday to defending NESCAC champion Trinity in Hartford, Conn. The Bantams capitalized on four Eph turnovers to prevail 17-9, notching their 12th straight win dating back to 2015.

Trinity attempted to set the tone early with its run game, but the men yielded only one first down before forcing a punt on the first possession. After the punt, however, an Eph fumble gave the ball back to the Bantams at the Williams 12-yard line. Two plays later, Trinity running back Max Chipouras found the end zone to give his team a 7-0 lead.

Despite the early score, defense would be the story of the game. Both teams’ defenses had been strong in the first two weeks. The Ephs had allowed seven points in each of their games, and the Bantams had not given up a point until Saturday.

After several short drives, both teams looked to create some momentum. The Ephs answered toward the end of the first quarter. Starting at about midfield, the men worked their way to the Trinity 15, by way of two catches by Justin Nelson ’21 for 10 and 22 yards, respectively. Quarterback Bobby Maimaron ’21 and the offense were ultimately kept out of the end zone, and the Ephs settled for a 28-yard field goal, which Min Kyu Park ’21 converted to bring the score to 7-3.

The Williams defense again forced a three-and-out on the next drive. The Ephs, however, muffed the catch on the Bantam punt, and the Bantams pounced on the ball at the Williams 15. Trinity took only two plays to score another touchdown, converting by way of a 9-yard completion from quarterback Sonny Puzzo to Koby Schofer.

For the next six drives after Trinity’s second touchdown, neither team managed a first down. Linebacker Jarrett Wesner ’21 led the defensive effort with five tackles in the first half, including three tackles for a loss.

After one more Trinity three-and-out, the Williams offense had one more chance to score a touchdown before halftime. Starting at their own 7 yard-line, the Ephs had to move quickly, but two runs by Connor Harris ’18 totaled 29 yards. Then, a 15-yard Trinity penalty, coupled with a 14-yard reception by Nelson, brought the men into plus territory. The Bantams nearly pulled off a stop, but on fourth and 7, Maimaron completed a crafty rollout pass to a wide-open Harris to move the chains. With time running out, Maimaron took a shot to the end zone, but Trinity cornerback Matt Patry intercepted to deny intended receiver Frank Stola ’21 a score. The score was 14-3 Bantams going into halftime, with the Ephs receiving the second-half kickoff.

The Eph offense started strong on its first possession of the third quarter, and a 19-yard reception by Nelson brought the Ephs into the red zone. Harris promptly caught a pass and took it 15 yards for a touchdown. A botched snap on the extra point, however, made the score 14-9.

Trinity responded a few drives later. After gaining 44 yards to the Williams 29, the Bantams brought on kicker Eric Sachse, who had converted 67 straight kicks (either field goals or extra points). He buried the 46-yard field goal to bring the lead to 17-9.

The score took away the Ephs’ momentum. On their subsequent drive, the men were forced to punt on after a three-and-out. Trinity marched into the red zone for the third time in the game. Sachse, however, missed a field goal attempt – his first miscue in 68 attempts – keeping it a one-possession game.

An Adam Regensburg ’18 punt pinned Trinity at its 1-yard line, and the Ephs started their next possession with great field position at the Bantams’ 35. On the first play of the drive, however, linebacker Carty Campbell intercepted Maimaron, a decisive blow. The Ephs got the ball back with only five seconds left in the game, but after an incomplete pass, the game ended 17-9 in the Bantams’ favor.

Despite the loss, the men had a 19-9 advantage in first downs and scored the first points Trinity has allowed this season. The Eph defense was stellar again but hampered by the turnovers.

The Bantams edged the Ephs 275-251 in total offensive yardage. Maimaron was 16-of-35 for 164 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Puzzo was 14-of-22 for 163 and a touchdown.

Harris had 19 carries for 76 yards and a fumble, as well as two catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. Nelson led the receiving corps with six catches for 59 yards. For the Bantams, Chipouras garnered 80 yards on 28 carries.

Luke Apuzzi ’20 and TJ Rothmann ’21 led the Ephs with 10 tackles, while co-captain Chris Hattar ’18 had a sack and five tackles. Cornerback Amyhr Barber ’19 also broke up three passes on the day. Trinity was led defensively by Campbell, who, in addition to his crucial interception, had eight tackles.

“Our team showed a lot of poise and toughness,” head coach Mark Raymond said. “Unfortunately, the turnovers were very costly.”

The men will look to rebound at home versus Bates on Saturday, with kickoff at 1 p.m.