WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – For the second consecutive season, the Amherst College football team finished 8-0 to claim the NESCAC Championship outright as it defeated Williams College Saturday afternoon in the 130th meeting of "The Biggest Little Game in America", and the first-ever meeting on Farley-Lamb Field, 17-7.
Amherst: 8-0 (4-0 home, 4-0 away)
Williams: 2-6 (1-3 home, 1-3 away)
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Amherst scored 17 unanswered points, all the in the second and third quarter, before Williams scored its first and only touchdown in the fourth.
- Amherst held a 363-294 advantage in total offense as the visitor's amassed 220 yards rushing. The Purple & White also held a 21-18 edge in first downs, and 32:20-to-27:40 advantage in time of possession.
- Offensively, quarterback Reece Foy '18 went 11-for-20 for 143 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions - including 71 yards on the ground - as he helped guide Amherst to a NESCAC title in his first season as a starter. Senior running back Kenny Adinkra capped off an impressive four-year career in Purple & White as he rushed for a game-high 91 yards on 26 carries, including a score. Amherst's dynamic duo at the wide receiver position featured 68 yards from senior co-captain Jackson McGonagle and 66 yards from Devin Boehm '17. McGonagle also scored the first touchdown of the game.
- Defensively, the Purple & White held the Ephs to 86 yards rushing and 208 passing. Jack Drew '16 finished his career with a team-high eight tackles (5 solo), including one break-up, while Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn '16 and Drew Bryant '18 finished with seven each. Jaymie Spears '16 and Tom Kleyn '16 each recorded an interception.
- For Williams, quarterback Austin Lommen finished 24-of-38 for 208 yards and two interceptions, while Noah Sorrento rushed for 49 yards on 19 carries. Sorrento also scored the Ephs lone touchdown, while Lommen gained 34 yards on the ground. Darrias Sime finished with a game-high 103 yards receiving.
- On the defensive side of the ball, Elijah Eaton and Alex Brandeis led the home team with 13 and 10 tackles, respectively. Eaton also recorded a sack, as well as Sam Gowen, and Jack Ryan recovered a fumble.
FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- Neither team was able to get much going offensively in the first quarter. The first 15 minutes of action featured a total of six drives and six punts.
- Amherst got on the board just over midway through the second. Foy capped off a seven-play, 53-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to McGonagle. The sophomore quarterback rolled to his left and threw across his body to a wide open McGonagle in the end zone as Amherst went ahead 7-0 with 8:46 to play in the first half.
- Williams put together a strong drive in the closing minutes of the half. Running 4:18 off the clock in 12 plays and 49 yards, the Ephs reached the Amherst 11-yard line. Looking to even the score at the half, Lommen's pass was intercepted by senior co-captain and inside linebacker Kleyn as Amherst regained the momentum heading into the locker room.
SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS
- Williams sent the opening kickoff of the second half out of bounds to give Amherst good field position. Ten plays and 59 yards later, the Purple & White settled for a 23-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead.
- On Williams ensuing possession, the Ephs were forced to punt and were flagged on the play. Taking over at the Williams 35-yard line, Amherst fumbled on its first play of the drive as the home team recovered. However, Amherst's defense stepped up again and made a big stop to force a three-and-out.
- On Amherst's next drive, the Purple & White marched down the field in 4:58 on 11 plays and 67 yards. On 3rd-and-goal at the Williams 3-yard line, Adinkra took the hand off and was hit hard at the line, but the 5-9, 208-pound back bounced off the defender and stayed on his feet as he cruised to the end zone with no one around him.
- Williams put together its first scoring drive early in the fourth quarter. Starting at its own 2-yard line, Lommen completed a 21-yard pass on the first play. The Ephs eventually gained 98 yards on 10 plays in just 2:47 as Sorrento ran to the right side of the tackle and straight into end zone for a six-yard touchdown.
- Amherst took over with 8:48 remaining in the game, and took 6:40 off the clock with a 13-play, 70-yard drive. Facing 4th-and-goal at the Williams 2-yard line, Adinkra – who had an impressive 15-yard rush earlier to keep the drive going – leaped over the pile but was hit low to flip him head over heels, but he came up short.
- Once again, deep in their own zone, Lommen completed a 29-yard strike to Sime on first down. With the clock running down, Williams gained 81 yards in 11 plays but Lommen was intercepted in the end zone by Spears with six seconds remaining.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Amherst finished 8-0 for the second consecutive season - the first time in program history this feat has been accomplished - and sixth time overall as it set a program record with 19 straight wins. It is the fourth time in the past seven years the Purple & White have closed the season with a perfect record.
- In Amherst's 136 year history, the team has finished a season without a loss 11 times; including the inaugural season of 1877, as well as 1879, in which they went 1-0 on the year.
- Head coach E.J. Mills' impressive 19-year tenure continues as he improves to 117-35 since 1997, good for a .770 winning percentage – the best winning percentage in Amherst football history.
- Amherst is an incredible 51-5 since 2009.
- The Purple & White have won at least a share of the NESCAC title in five of the last seven seasons, and have six crowns total: 2000, 2009, 2011, 2013-15.
"THE BIGGEST LITTLE GAME IN AMERICA"
- Williams leads the all-time series in this historic 130-year rivalry, 71-54-5, but it's been all Amherst as of late. The Purple & White have won six of the last seven meetings, and five consecutive against their archrival. Amherst has also won the last four games in Williamstown.
- Saturday's game marked the first to be played on Farley-Lamb Field. Last year, the rivals played the first game on the newly renovated Pratt Field as Amherst won, 17-9.
- Amherst's senior class played the last games ever in the rivalry on the old Pratt Field and Weston Field, as well as the first-ever games on the new Pratt Field and Farley-Lamb Field. The Class of 2016 went 4-0 in those games.
- The Class of 2016 also finished their Amherst careers as one of the most successful classes in program history, joining last year's seniors with a 29-3 record in four years.
QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH E.J. MILLS
- "What an incredible group of guys," said Mills. "To go Back-to-back, and win 19 in a row with everyone coming for you. You knew Williams was going to play hard today, and we have a lot of respect for their staff and their team, but I can't say enough about our guys' character. They just did their job and stayed focus on the process."
- "These guys will go down in that argument as one of the best classes ever, finishing 29-3 just like last year's seniors," added Mills regarding the Class of 2016. "I'm real proud of them and I'm happy for them because they worked so hard, and that's really what it's all about."