AMHERST -- As the Amherst football players celebrated, the Williams players watched.
In the final game played at the current Pratt Field, Amherst scored 13 fourth-quarter points to earn a come-from-behind 23-20 win over the Ephs on Saturday.
"It’s a sour feeling," Williams junior running back Alex Scyocurka said, "but it gives you more motivation to come back next year."
With the loss, Williams fell to 4-4 for the first time since 1987. Amherst clinched the Little Three title and it marked the first time a group of Williams seniors lost to Amherst in consecutive seasons since 1985 and 1986.
Williams led 17-10 at halftime and 20-10 when Joe Mallock booted a 20-yard field goal with 11:41 left. Williams linebacker Chris Cameron stripped running back Steve Jellison and James Howe recovered for the Ephs on the Amherst 31-yard line. Two plays later, Williams had the ball first-and-goal on the Lord Jeffs’ 6-yard line. Scyocurka, who rushed for a game-high 122 yards on 25 carries, got two yards on two plays. On third down, quarterback Tom Murphy’s pass to a wide open Darren Hartwell bounced short.
"That’s all on me," said Murphy, who was 13 of 26 for 171 yards. "If I had just got the ball up. That’s the one throw. We would have won by one. It hurts to only get three. I’m going to remember that throw for the whole year."
Hartwell had quite a game in his Williams finale. He caught 6 passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned seven kicks for 156 yards.
The play of the game happened in the fourth quarter. Trailing 20-17 and after forcing a punt, the Lord Jeffs started a drive on their 12. A 29-yard gain by Sean Wilson (21 carries, 127 yards) almost turned into disaster as safety Tom Cabarle stripped Wilson of the ball. The big play came when a big man -- 275-pound right tackle Jack MacLennan fell on the football to keep the Amherst drive alive.
"I was just following the play. I was trying to make a block downfield," said MacLennan, who hadn’t recovered a fumble since ninth grade. "When I saw the ball pop out, I knew I had to fall on it."
The game-winning drive was kept alive by a roughing-the-kicker call against Williams. Lippe eventually scored on first-and-goal from the 3. The kick was missed, and Amherst led 23-20.
On Williams’ next possession, Mallock missed a 47-yard field goal that would have tied the game. Amherst drove from its 29 to the Williams 10, where the Jeffs went for it on fourth down, turning the ball over on downs.
On first down, Murphy threw a pass to Jeff Riemann, who lateraled back to Scyocurka, who got near midfield. Murphy was shaken up and came out while the officials called offsetting penalties. Backup Adam Marske moved the ball to the 39, but corner Jamie Spears picked off a pass for Hartwell to end the game.