Photo Gallery | Williams College plays Colby College in football season opener
WILLIAMSTOWN — The weather gods smiled down on Farley-Lamb Field with a perfect autumn Saturday for football. The football gods, at least as far as the Williams College football team was concerned, had other ideas.
After being held scoreless for 58 minutes, freshman quarterback Jansen Durham threw a touchdown pass. But Colby took the kickoff and marched to the Williams 2-yard line. From there, John Baron kicked a 19-yard field goal with four seconds left and the Mules escaped with a 9-7 win in the season opener for both teams.
The loss spoiled the Williams debut of first-year coach Mark Raymond and his staff.
"We just had to stop them once, then it was going to be game over, we were going to win and sing the song," Eph safety Alex Brandeis said. "We had them fourth down, just slipped up."
The play that kept that final drive alive was a 13-yard pass from Colby freshman quarterback Jack O'Brien to Ryder Arsenault. That moved the sticks. O'Brien, who came into relieve the injured Gabe Harrington, completed four straight passes on the drive, and then after Jabari Hurdle-Price ran the ball to the Eph 2-yard line, Baron split the uprights to give the Mules the win.
"I'm just proud of our guys. They played with great effort and great passion," Raymond said. "They played together. That's what we've been focused on.
"You hate to be too reactionary right after the game, but we'll go back to the tape. There are some obvious things we need to get better at."
It was the first time since 2003 that Williams gave up so few points and lost. Bates beat Williams 10-7 on Oct. 4, 2003.
Williams won the statistical battle in the game. The Ephs outgained Colby 308 yards to 239. They did lose one critical battle.
Williams was 1 for 4 inside the Colby 30. The Ephs had a pair of drives stall deep in Mule territory. One drive ended on the Colby nine and the other on the 11.
"It's frustrating, but it comes with experience," said Raymond.
Despite knocking on the door three times and coming up empty, Williams finally kicked it in late in the fourth.
Williams' defense held Colby to a 3-and-out and took over after a punt on its own 49. Durham, who spelled starter Jaelon Moaney throughout the game, was under center. Durham marched the Ephs to the Colby 27 and after defensive tackle Sam Gomez deflected a pass for Connor Harris at the line of scrimmage, the Ephs seemed down to their last play.
But Durham found Adam Regensburg on a slant for 17 yards, giving the Ephs first and goal at the 10. On second down from the seven, Durham rolled right and threw back to his left. Tight end John Dillon hauled the ball in for the touchdown. And when Regensburg kicked the first point-after of his Williams career, the Ephs were ecstatic with a 7-6 lead.
"Coach Raymond and [offensive coordinator Alex] Smith just emphasized having the heart to punch the ball in," said Durham, a freshman from West Friendship, Md. "We had gotten down to red zone so many times before then and we had never punched it in.
"Finally getting that touchdown in was a relief in knowing we could do it."
Brandeis and linebacker Justin Harris lead the Eph defense with 12 tackles each. Harris had four tackles for loss and one of four sacks by the Eph defense. Sophomore defensive end Jameson DeMarko had seven tackles, 2 1/2 for loss, and a sack.
In some areas, it was a rough day for Williams. The Ephs had four turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions. One fumble led to Colby's only touchdown.
Williams had held Colby on downs. The punt by Baron traveled only 32 yards and was fielded by Mike Davis. Davis probably should have let the ball bounce, but he fumbled and Colby's Sam Friedman recovered. Six plays later, Jabari Hurdle-Price scored on a 3-yard run. The Mules missed the point-after, and it was 6-0.
Noah Sorrento had a good day running the ball, carrying it 14 times for 85 yards, while Harris had 68 yards rushing on 18 carries. Hurdle-Price led Colby with 87 yards rushing on 23 carries. O'Brien was 9 for 19 for 102 yards coming off the bench, while Durham was 9 of 11 for 69 yards.