Football preview: Ephs (3-0) visit Bobcats (0-3) for Back to Bates Weekend

First-year wide receiver Jackson Hayes ranks ninth in the NESCAC in all-purpose yards, with 107.7 per game. (File photo by Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- If there were any doubts that Williams College has re-emerged as one of the top football programs in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, they were erased last Saturday when the Ephs toppled conference champion Trinity 21-16, their first win against the Bantams since 2010.

The team's seniors have gone from 2-6 as freshmen to 0-8 as sophomores to 6-3 a year ago, and now Williams is one of three 3-0 teams in the league (the others being former Bates opponents Amherst and Tufts). It's clear that the Williams team that visits Garcelon Field for Back to Bates Weekend today is vastly improved over the Ephs that last visited Garcelon in 2016 and lost 29-17.

A young, sophomore-heavy team boasts one of the better and more balanced offenses in the league thus far, and a solid defense that caused three Trinity turnovers last week.


THE PARTICULARS:

What: Williams (3-0) at Bates (0-3)

When: Saturday, Oct. 6, 1 p.m.

Where: Garcelon Field (Lewiston, Maine)

Live Coverage: Video | Stats

All-Time Series: Williams leads 24-6

Previous Meeting: Williams 47, Bates 17 (Oct. 7, 2017 in Williamstown, Mass.)


WILLIAMS LAST WEEK:

Trailing 9-7 at the half, Williams scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 21-9 lead and went on to post a 21-16 win over visiting Trinity.

The Ephs dominated in the third quarter for the third time this season, linebacker TJ Rothmann made a pivotal interception in the end zone, and Jackson Bischoping's first and only pass of the game went for a 49-yard touchdown.

The Ephs came out firing in the third quarter, driving all the way downfield in just 1:15 to put themselves on top for good, 14-9. The drive was sparked by two passes from sophomore quarterback Bobby Maimaron to sophomore wide receiver Frank Stola, the first being a 45-yard deep bomb down the middle and the second being a 21-yard touchdown in the back left corner of the end zone.

Maimaron finished 12-of-25 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Returning after not playing last week against Colby, Stola caught five passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Rothmann was all over the field, registering the pivotal end-zone interception along with a fumble recovery, 15 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. He was named NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week.

The Bantams controlled the pace of the first half, outgaining the Ephs 200-141, but Trinity had three red-zone possessions and only came away with a field goal each time.

Williams had only one first-half red-zone drive, but scored a touchdown on a seam-route pass from Maimaron to sophomore tight end Justin Burke, which put Williams up 7-6 before Trinity kicked a field goal to score the last points of the half.

The Ephs' first drive of the third quarter set the tone for the rest of the game, as Trinity didn't score again until very late in the fourth. Williams has outscored its opponents 45-0 in the third quarter this season.

Nothing seemed to go right for Trinity after the half. Late in the third, a fake punt attempt on 4th-and-8 led to just a 6-yard gain, giving Williams possession inside the Trinity 40-yard line. In the middle of the fourth, the game still well within reach, quarterback Jordan Vazzano was intercepted by Ben Anthony. On the Bantams' second-to-last possession, Vazzano completed a pass on 4th-and-11 that would have been good for a first down only to see Williams senior defensive back Desmond Butler force a fumble, which Williams recovered.

With under two minutes to go, Vazzano exploited a blown coverage on a 73-yard touchdown pass that cut the deficit to 21-16, but the ensuing onside kick bounced out of bounds and Williams knelt out the clock from there.

BATES LAST WEEK:

The Bates football team surprised Tufts' homecoming crowd by taking a 14-10 halftime lead, but the host Jumbos rolled over the Bobcats with 37 unanswered points in the second half for a 47-14 victory Saturday.

Tufts quarterback Ryan McDonald led the Jumbos past the Bobcats for the second year in a row, throwing for 207 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 161 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, as Tufts outgained 545 yards to 198.

Bates' defense played a strong first half but could not sustain the effort, while the offense struggled for all but two consecutive scoring drives in the second quarter.

Brendan Costa completed 16-of-30 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown, and led the Bobcats in rushing with 30 yards on 19 carries. Junior receiver Kody Greenhalgh caught six passes for 77 yards, including a spectacular touchdown grab, while first-year receiver Jackson Hayes caught three passes for 47 yards.

Conner Suraci led Bates with a career-high 13 tackles (12 solo). First-year linebacker Michael Bulman made a season-best 10 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, and sophomore Anthony Costa added eight tackles and his second interception in as many weeks.

Mike Pedrini's 9-yard touchdown run gave Tufts a 10-0 lead with 1:21 left in the first quarter.

Bates was stopped for three-and-outs on its next three possessions while the defense held the Jumbos in check, and with 5:35 left in the second quarter a sack by Walter Washington on 4th and 9 returned the ball to the Bates offense at their own 30. Brendan Costa rushed for 15 yards to start the drive, then hit Hayes for back-to-back gains of 33 and nine yards, bringing Bates to the Tufts 23. Now in rhythm, Costa found Greenhalgh open for nine more yards on a slant route. Costa then handed off to sophomore Christian Sanfilippo, who bounced between senior linemen Yanni Falaras and Dan Marino for a 5-yard touchdown run, closing the gap to 10-7 with 3:19 left in the half.

Backup quarterback Ryan Hagfeldt replaced McDonald on Tufts' next drive, and with the Jumbos at midfield, Bates sophomore safety Anthony Costa broke in front of the intended receiver and picked off Hagfeldt's pass over the middle at the Bates 35, returning the ball 34 yards to the Tufts 31.

On 3rd and 8 at the Tufts 29, Brendan Costa dropped back and lofted over the middle to the back of the end zone, where Greenhalgh fought off his defender before making an all-out dive to catch the ball as he fell out of the back of the end zone. After a dramatic second or two, the touchdown was signalled, and Justin Foley's extra point gave the Bobcats a 14-10 lead with 1:28 to go in the half. Despite a 14-6 disadvantage in first downs at intermission, Bates surprised Tufts' homecoming crowd by owning the halftime lead. Tufts outgained Bates 221-148 in total offense in the half.

But the second half was all Tufts, as the hosts outscored Bates 30-0 while outgaining the visitors 324-50. The Jumbos drove 59 yards for a 34-yard field goal on their opening drive of the half, then added touchdowns on their next four drives while taking the ball over near midfield on the last three of those possessions.

BATES' AND WILLIAMS' LAST MEETING:

Williams racked up 590 yards of total offense on their way to a 47-14 victory over Bates in Williamstown on Oct. 7, 2017.

Frank Stola had a huge day at receiver for the Ephs, catching seven passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Bobby Maimaron completed 17 of 24 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Maimaron added 10 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Rashad Morrison tallied a team-high 85 rushing yards and a touchdown while Connor Harris carried the ball 13 times for 83 yards.

The Bobcats tallied 241 yards of total offense. First-year Brendan Costa made his first start at quarterback and completed six of 12 passes for 109 yards, with a touchdown and four interceptions. He also ran the ball a team-high 13 times for 49 yards.

The game was a close one until the Ephs outscored the Bobcats 23-7 in the third quarter.

Costa connected with Jaason Lopez for an 80-yard touchdown reception on Bates' first series, the first passing touchdown of the year for Bates and the first passing touchdown of Costa's career as well.

Zach Doyon scored on a two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Jon Lindgren and senior Max Breschi paced the Bobcat defense with 11 tackles each. Jarrett Wesner led the Ephs with nine tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.

BATES' PROBABLE STARTERS:

OFFENSE
LT 70 Matt Flanagan 
LG 68 Phil Simplicio 
C 64 Jack O'Brien 
RG 77 Yanni Falaras 
RT 74 Dan Marino 
TE 85 Isaiah Saunders 
WR 1 Kevin Claflin 
WR 26 Jackson Hayes 
WR 13 Marcus Ross 
QB 3 Brendan Costa 
RB 30 Zach Doyon 

DEFENSE
DE 97 Shane Collins 
NT 99 Ramon Ruiz 
DT 94 Walter Washington 
OLB 95 Tyler Harrington 
ILB 8 Chase Fulton 
ILB 37 Peter Daley 
OLB 33 Liam Greene 
CB 7 Coy Candelario 
SS 6 Jon Lindgren 
FS 4 Anthony Costa
CB 22 Devin Clyburn 

SPECIALIST
P/K 2 Justin Foley 

WILLIAMS' PROBABLE STARTERS:

OFFENSE

LT 75 Jeremy Subjinski
LG 61 Mike Ludwig
C 55 John Rooney
RG 52 Jeff MacArthur
RT 73 Karsten Salveson
TE 31 Justin Bruke
WR 3 Frank Stola
WR 13 Justin Nelson
WR 83 Rashad Morrison
QB 2 Bobby Maimaron
RB 7 TJ Dozier

DEFENSE
DL 49 Jameson DeMarco
DL 54 Oscar Unobskey
DL 22 Nick Landry
LB 25 Luke Apuzzi
LB 45 TJ Rothmann
LB 17 Jarrett Wesner
LB 99 Austin Thomas
DB 21 Amyhr Barber
DB 16 Desmond Butler
DB 4 Ben Anthony
DB 27 Jake Kastenhuber

SPECIALIST
P/K 10 Andrew Schreibstein