Jeffs Drop Heartbreaking Season-Finale at Archrival Williams, 23-20, in OT
November 10, 2001
Williams sophomore fullback Tyler Shea (Bedford, NH) rumbled one yard up the middle to seal the win in overtime, answering a 23-yard field goal by Amherst first-year David Bodner (Atlantic Beach, NY) that gave the Jeffs a short-lived 20-17 lead at the start of the extra session.
With the win, the Ephs recorded their fifth-ever perfect season - all under current head coach Dick Farley - marking the seventh time Williams has denied Amherst an undefeated campaign.
After both teams went three-and-out on their opening possessions, Williams sophomore signal caller Joe Reardon (Alexandria, VA) completed five straight passes, including a 27-yard dart to junior wideout Ryan Friend (Bedford, MA) that brought the ball all the way to the Amherst 11-yard line. From there, Shea covered the remaining real estate on three carries, capped by a one-yard touchdown run, giving the Ephs an early 7-0 lead.
Amherst clawed back two series later. With the ball at the Lord Jeff 34, Williams lined up for a field goal attempt but instead direct-snapped the ball to junior place kicker Scott Farley (Williamstown, MA), who lofted a pooch-punt to the 17-yard line where senior return-man Derrell Wright (Hudson, OH) called for a fair catch. The Jeffs proceeded to march 83 yards on seven plays, marked by two spectacular pass plays from first-year quarterback Marsh Moseley (New Orleans, LA) to Wright, knotting the score at 7-7 with 1:20 left in the first quarter. Both of Wright's catches came on third-down plays under double coverage; the first a 24 yard grab right in front of the Amherst bench, and the second a 55-yard completion in which Wright caught the ball at the Williams 15, cut back toward the middle of the field and cut back again toward the sideline before being dragged down by junior cornerback Johnny Kelly (Bronxville, NY) at the one-yard line. Moseley punched it in from there as the momentum clearly shifted toward the visitors.
On the Jeffs' next possession, Wright elevated for a seemingly impossible 31-yard reception over a trio of Williams defenders (who were whistled for pass interference on the play), and Moseley hit junior fullback Jeff Ryan (Belmont, MA) for a 16-yard completion, setting up a 39-yard field goal by first year David Bodner to put Amherst on top 10-7 at the start of the second quarter.
Amherst fifth-year head coach E.J. Mills then reached into his bag of tricks as Bodner lobbed the ensuing on-side kick short and high - recovered by senior defensive back Geoff Dewire (Bernville, PA) - giving the Jeffs possession at the Williams 38. The play went for naught, however, as Moseley was intercepted by Farley 46 seconds later. Amherst senior linebacker Gregg Stankewicz (Portland, CT) responded with a vicious hit on Ephs' backup quarterback Jake Moore (Canfield, OH), knocking the ball loose and recovering it at the Williams 33, once again shifting momentum toward the Jeffs.
Amherst's ensuing drive was unsuccessful, but junior Geoff Bough (Los Altos, CA) pinned the Ephs at their own three yard line with a beautifully placed 27-yard punt, ensuring the Jeffs would get the ball back in stellar field possession.
Sure enough, Williams went three-and-out and punted. Amherst's offensive line - led by senior Josh Ahearn (North Brookfield, MA), Colin Renz (White Plains, NY) and junior Rob Vernicek (Mountville, NY) - proceeded to push the offense 44-yards on the next four plays, capped by an 18-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Fletcher Ladd (Amherst, NH) for a commanding 17-7 lead at the break.
Unfortunately, it was all Williams from there as the Ephs rebounded with 10 unanswered points in the second half to knot the score 17-17. Farley sliced three points off the lead with a 20-yard field goal with 10:14 remaining in the third quarter. At the start of the fourth, Williams sophomore linebacker Graham Goldwasser (St. Louis, MO) victimized Moseley with a diving interception at the Amherst 22 on third-and-12. Sophomore tailback Mike Hackett (Rutland, VT) then pierced the end zone from four yards out to send the game into overtime.
Amherst won the coin toss and had the first crack. Ladd rumbled eight yard to the Williams' nine yard line for a first down, but the drive stalled at the four-yard line and the Jeffs had to settle for a 23-yard Bodner field goal.
Williams took over and, on second down, Reardon completed a 21-yard pass to Friend down the right sideline to give the Ephs first-and-goal from the Amherst four-yard line. Shea broke through two plays later to give Williams the 23-20 victory - the first overtime game in the 116-year history of the rivalry.
Amherst has not won on Weston Field since 1985.
For Williams, Reardon finished 23-for-43 with 224 yards and an interception. Senior wideout Colin Brooks (Delray Beach, FL) was the major beneficiary with eight catches for 53 yards, while Friend added seven catches for 98 yards, including the game-breaking 21-yard play in overtime. Amherst held Williams to just 117 yards rushing, highlighted by Hackett's 76 yards on 18 carries. Shea rushed 10 times for 25 yards with a pair of touchdown runs.
For the Jeffs, Moseley finished nine-for-22 for 158 yards and three interceptions. Wright was impressive with four catches for 117 yards, all in the first half. Meanwhile, Ladd posted his third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance with 105 yards and a touchdowns on 25 carries. Senior tailback Okey Ugwonali (Dallas, TX) added 70 yards on 17 carries.
Defensively, seniors Brian Landolfi (Hanover, MA) and Dan Lalli (Watertown, MA) paced Amherst with 10 tackles each, while classmate Jay Hutchins (Columbus, OH) finished with nine.
Amherst and Williams entered the game undefeated for just the third time in 116 meetings. The Jeffs won both previous matchups in Amherst - the first a 12-6 victory in 1942 and the second a 20-7 win in 1964. Amherst's last perfect season came in 1984 under legendary head coach Jim Ostendarp.
Individually, Wright needed just nine receptions to equal College Football Hall of Famer and 11-year NFL veteran Freddie Scott '74's Amherst career record of 143, and just 197 yards to break Scott's all-time mark for career receiving yards - 2,336. He fell just short but capped an impressive four-year career nonetheless.
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