WILLIAMSTOWN, Massachusetts -- Colin Vataha (Lincoln, MA) connected on a 27-yard field goal with two seconds left on the game clock to hand Williams a 48-46 victory over archrival Amherst. This is the second straight year that the Ephs have scored in the final minute of play to spoil a perfect 8-0 season for the Jeffs. Williams had not attempted a field goal in 17 games, but the Ephs connected on both tries today, including the game-winner.
Amherst seemed to have the game in hand when the Jeffs went up 46-45 with just 1:49 remaining when rookie Matt Hall (Lincroft, NJ) surprised all 11,500 fans at Weston Field with Amherst's first two-point conversion attempt, a pass to Todd Haggerty (Albany, NY) hidden deep in the endzone. Hall had caught the final touchdown of the game.
Williams capitalized on Amherst's sixth penalty of the day for 15 free yards to push the Ephs into Amherst territory. Eph signal caller Peter Supino (Orinda, CA) ran Williams into the red zone with 22 of his 49 net rushing yards to later set up Vataha's field goal.
The lead changed five times with three ties as the archrivals took advantage of extreme momentum changes in 15 different scoring drives. Williams tallied first off the opening kickoff with a 10-yard Supino run, but Amherst answered on the next possession with a Darin Byrne (Winchester, MA) 3-yard run, set up by a 60-yard kickoff return by junior Todd Nichols (Skaneateles, NY). The Ephs would rack up three more scores to lead by as much as 24-17 last in the first half, the most Amherst has trailed since its 33-10 loss to Trinity in 1995. Amherst closed out the half with a shotgunned 7-play drive to goal as Lord Jeff quarterback Rich Willard (Johnstown, NY) racked up 79 of his 109 first-half yards. His biggest bomb of the day cut the Williams lead to 10 at the break as he lobbed a 36-yarder to senior wideout Shaun Quigley (Chicopee, MA) with just 7 seconds before the half.
The Jeffs held onto this momentum as they shutout the Ephs in the third quarter while notching 17 points of their own. Willard's third of five touchdown passes gave the Jeffs their first lead of the day with 5:16 to play in the quarter with a 4-yard pass to Haggerty. But Williams responded with a pair of TDs as Paul Bethe (Ithaca, NY) and Fred Storz (Rockaway, NJ) plowed their way into the endzone toward a 45-31 lead. Two more Willard scoring passes set up the dramatic finish that forces a three-way split of the Little III Football crown among Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams. This is the sixth three-way tie in the 87-year history of the trivalry.
Despite Amherst's only loss of the season, Co-Captain Willard finishes out his career with his best game in four years, registering 378 yards off 26-44 completions with five in the endzone. The senior extends his records of Career Passing yardage to 4,387 yards and his Career Attempts to 563. In addition, the signal-caller broke Paul Foye's 11-year record of most TD passes in a game, formerly four set against Wesleyan in 1986, and he tied Foye and Rick Murphy for most touchdowns in a season with 16. Willard also challenged three more Foye single-game records, falling one shy of most attempts, two shy of most completions and just 15 yards short of most yards in a game, numbers all established in the 1986 season, which also happens to be the last time Amherst earned a victory over the Ephs.
Before today's meeting, Amherst's defense had allowed merely 45 points and 1,263 yards in seven games. However, the Eph attack surpassed Amherst's season points-allowed total with 464 offensive yards, over one-third of the Jeffs' seven-game total. Amherst, meanwhile, notched 407 offensive yards, though the Jeffs registered a season-low 59 on the ground.
Both teams finish the season with 7-1 records as Williams spoils a perfect Amherst season for the sixth time in the 112-game history of these schools. The last Amherst undefeated season was in 1984.
at Weston Field, Williamstown, Massachusetts Amherst (7-1) 7 7 17 15 -- 46 Williams (7-1) 14 10 0 24 -- 48 First Quarter 10:41 W Peter Supino 10 run (Colin Vataha kick) 8:38 A Darin Byrne 3 run (Liam Fleming kick) 3:06 W Mike McAdam 1 run (Vataha kick) Second Quarter 10:16 W Michael Cleary 5 pass from Supino (Vataha kick) 1:24 W Vataha 35 field goal 0:07 A Shaun Quigley 36 pass from Rich Willard (Fleming kick) Third Quarter 11:17 A Fleming 34 field goal 9:52 A Colin Barnacle 15 pass from Willard (Fleming kick) 5:16 A Todd Haggerty 4 pass from Willard (Fleming kick) Fourth Quarter 14:38 W Supino 2 run (Vataha kick) 9:53 W Paul Bethe 2 run (Vataha kick) 7:41 W Fred Storz 10 run (Vataha kick) 4:33 A Quigley 19 pass from Willard (Fleming kick) 1:49 A Matt Hall 34 pass from Willard (Hall pass to Haggerty good) 0:02 W Vataha 27 field goal Attendance: 11,500 Amherst Williams First downs 21 25 Rushing-yards 23-59 45-219 Passing yards 378 283 Return yards 176 122 Passes 44-26-1 40-19-0 Punts 5-127 7-204 Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-0 Penalties-yards 6-57 7-23Rushing: A Darin Byrne 13-36, Bob DiSabato 4-15, Rich Willard 6-(-22). W Fred Storz 22-130, Peter Supino 11-49, Mike McAdam 7-23, Paul Bethe 1-2, Brandon Davidson 2-(-8), Sean Keenan 2-(-15).
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