AMHERST, Mass. – The Amherst College football team scored 28 unanswered points, including 21 in the third quarter, to secure a 28-3 victory over archrival Williams College Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium in the "Biggest Little Game in America."
With the win, Amherst snapped its three-game losing streak and concludes its season 4-4 overall. Williams finished its 2016 campaign 0-8 – the first time the Ephs have gone winless in a season since 1947 (0-7).
After Amherst forced Williams to punt on the opening possession of the game, the Purple & White had their first pass of the game intercepted, as Jake Mohan stepped in front of an Alex Berluti '17 throw at the 43-yardline to give the Ephs a short field to work with. Williams responded with an eight-play, 38-yard drive, highlighted by an 11-yard Jansen Durham completion to Noah Sorrento that helped set up a 22-yard field goal attempt. Adam Regensburg delivered to give the Ephs a 3-0 lead at the 8:26 mark of the first quarter.
Devin Boehm '17 returned the ensuing kickoff nine yards to the Amherst 31-yardline and on the first play from scrimmage, Jack Hickey '19 broke free for a 30-yard run down the left sideline to the Williams 30-yardline. Two plays later, Nick Morales '19 found Boehm for a 25-yard scoring play as the Purple & White took a 7-3 lead with 6:44 remaining in the first quarter.
After both teams exchanged punts on their following possessions, Williams picked up a first down and 10 at its own 44 following an eight-yard rush by Connor Harris. On the next play, Sorrento hit a hole for three yards but was met by Zach Allen '19 who forced a fumble that was recovered by Drew Bryant '18 at the Ephs' 45-yardline. Amherst could not capitalize on the turnover and was forced to punt as the drive extended into the start of the second quarter.
Midway through the second frame, the Ephs were forced to start deep in their own territory. On second-and-six from its own 14, Williams turned it over again, as Durham's pass was picked off by Nate Tyrell '19 at the Ephs' 40-yardline and returned 24 yards to the visitor's 16-yardline. After Williams' defense held tough and forced a 32-yard field goal try, Amherst attempted a fake field goal but Craig Carmilani '19 was stripped by Russell Monyette and the ball was recovered by John Dillon at the Williams 40-yardline keeping the score at 7-3 with 4:45 to play in the first half.
The Ephs marched down the field as Steve Bohling picked up 44 yards, highlighted by runs of 12, 16 and 11 yards, to give Williams first-and-goal from the seven-yardline. Bohling pushed ahead for two yards on, and then for three giving the visitors third-and-goal from the two-yardline. John Callahan '19 then stuffed Sorrento for a one-yard loss, before halting Bohling in his tracks for a two-yard loss on fourth down to cement Amherst's crucial defensive stand as the Purple & White took over on downs and ended the first 30 minutes with a four-point lead.
On Amherst's first drive of the second half, Morales hit James O'Regan '20 for an 11-yard completion, and then picked up four yards on the ground setting up a second-and-six from the Purple & White's 45-yardline. Morales then launched a 55-yard pass to Boehm who slipped a defender and scampered into the end zone giving Amherst a 14-3 advantage.
The defense forced Williams into a three-and-out on its next possession but the Ephs were able to pin the hosts deep. Morales connected with Boehm for 17 yards, and Alex Berluti then hit Nick Widen '17 for a huge, 56-yard completion down the left sideline giving Amherst the ball at the Ephs' 14-yardline. Alex Berluti then completed a 14-yard pass to his brother Bo Berluti '19 at the 8:07 mark of the third quarter as Amherst took a commanding, 21-3 lead.
The defense once again came through for Amherst on Williams' next drive as Evan Boynton '17 intercepted Peter Cahill at the Ephs' 45-yardline on a third-and-13 play to give Amherst good field position. Three plays later, Alex Berluti connected with his brother Bo for the second time in the quarter, this one for a 31-yard TD as the Purple & White pushed their advantage to 28-3 with 5:53 to play in the third quarter.
Enter the final stanza, both defenses held tight as Williams forced Amherst into a pair of punts, while Ben Anthony intercepted a pass. The Purple & White also forced a pair of Ephs' punts, and induced two turnovers on downs as Niyi Odewade '17 notched a drive-ending sack, while Kevin Overlander '17 forced Regensburg out-of-bounds on a fourth-and-six play on Williams' final drive of the game to help seal the 28-3 victory.
- Amherst held a 293-188 advantage in yards of total offense on the strength of 256 passing yards. Williams picked up 111 of its yards on the ground, and the Ephs held a 34:10-25:50 lead in time of possession.
- Morales was 9-of-11 for 138 yards and two touchdowns, while Alex Berluti was 10-of-14 for 118 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions.
- Boehm was on the receiving end of two TD passes and finished with nine catches for 97 yards, while two of Bo Berluti's receptions went for scores as he finished with five catches for 68 yards.
- Hickey picked up 31 yards on three carries, while Andrew Ferrero '19 helped flip field position with three of his four punts falling inside the 20-yardline.
- Defensively, Amherst was led by Parker Chapman '17 who registered a collegiate career-high 15 tackles (8 solo, 7 assists), while Andrew Yamin '19 collected nine tackles. Callahan, Paul Johnson '17, Odewade and Isaiah Holloway '17 each added seven tackles, while Nick Ulanoff '18 and Markel Thomas '18 registered sacks for a loss of 12 and 10 yards respectively.
- Both Cahill and Durham were 5-for-8 for 40 and 37 yards respectively, and both threw an interception in the loss. Bohling led the ground attack with 56 yards on 11 attempts, while Sorrento led the receivers with three receptions for 22 yards.
- Christian Dumont and Sam Gowen led the Ephs' defensive efforts with seven tackles each, while Gowen and Christopher Hattar each recorded a sack for a loss of nine yards.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- After the 131st meeting of the "Biggest Little Game in America," Williams now leads the all-time series, 71-55-5, but Amherst has now won six straight meetings between the rivals.
- The Purple & White complete their campaign with a 4-4 overall record for the first time since 2007, and just the third time overall under head coach E.J. Mills who completed his 20th season at the helm.
- The Class of 2017 finished their careers with an impressive, 27-5 overall record that included a share of the NESCAC title in 2013, outright titles in 2014 and 2015, and back-to-back 8-0 seasons in 2014 and 2015.