CLINTON, N.Y. — For the first time since 2010, the Williams College football team is 5-0.
Running back Joel Nicholas scored twice and Bobby Maimaron threw a pair of touchdown passes to Ethan McCullough, as the Ephs remained undefeated with a workmanlike 35-7 win in the rain at Hamilton Saturday afternoon.
It's the first time the Ephs have been 5-0 to open a season since 2010, which also happens to be the last time a Williams football team went undefeated. The Ephs were 8-0 that year.
"I was really happy with the guys' performance on the road today," said Ephs head coach Mark Raymond in a release. "We knew Hamilton was going to have a really good plan, and they did, but we were able to really shut down the run and eliminate their explosive plays."
The Williams defense set the tone by forcing the Continentals (2-3) to go three-and-out on their first possession. Quarterback Joe Cairns threw an incomplete pass and was flushed out of the pocket on third-and-8, before getting tackled by first-year linebacker Ethan Scott.
A short punt gave Williams the ball on its 48. It took the Ephs five plays to score. Facing second-and-5 from the Hamilton 23, Bobby Maimaron gave the ball to Joel Nicholas. The Ephs had an unbalanced line with the strong side on the right. Nicholas ran left, then bounced back right and had nothing but daylight as he ran 24 yards for the touchdown. Ivan Shuran's point-after kick made it 7-0.
On the second Hamilton drive, the Williams defense came up big again. Ian Devine's sack of Cairns, one of two the first-year quarterback suffered, put the Continentals into second-and-long. Linebacker Edward Manzella's tackle of Kamau Hopewell after a 10-yard pass from Cairns forced a second Hamilton punt. This time, the Ephs had 71 yards to go.
It took Williams four plays to get on the board again. This time Maimaron hit Ethan McCullough on a seam route, and the Williams receiver went 55 yards for the score. He was wide open on the play, which was his first touchdown catch as a wide receiver for Williams. The point-after kick made it 14-0, and that was that.
Maimaron was 9 of 15 for 169 yards and three touchdown passes. He threw two to McCullough, the 55-yard aerial and a 2-yard pass on the final play of the first half for the Ephs. In the third quarter, Maimaron hit first-year Cam Lee on a 37-yard TD toss. It was Lee's first career touchdown catch.
Nicholas, who also scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, now has nine touchdowns and is second in NESCAC. He carried the ball 15 times for 79 yards.
Williams ran 69 plays to 53 for Hamilton and had 384 yards in total offense to 149. Hamilton had only 54 yards in total offense against the Williams starting defense.
The only battle Williams lost was the turnover one. The Ephs had three turnovers, two of them interceptions. Hamilton failed to score on any of the turnovers.
We'll have to fix the turnovers going into Bates, but our defense was able to execute under sudden change and keep them off the scoreboard," Raymond said. "I was really happy with that turnaround."
Williams will be on the road again Saturday at Bates before finishing up with home games against Trinity and Wesleyan and a season-ending road game at Amherst.