WILLIAMSTOWN — Two games into the 2021 season, the Williams football team is 2-0. Getting that second win made everyone, from head coach Mark Raymond to the first-years on the sideline, very happy.
“It was a very satisfying win,” Raymond said after the Ephs beat Tufts 32-29 in overtime on Saturday.
“We really started putting some things together, put some drives together on offense and made some stops on defense,” he said. “We got better as the game went on, which is what you want to see from a football team. There were some mistakes that led to some gains and touchdowns from Tufts.
“You make those against a good team and that’s going to happen.”
Raymond and the Ephs will play on the road for the second consecutive week when they travel to Brunswick, Maine, for a 1 p.m., Saturday kickoff against the Bowdoin Polar Bears.
In last week’s game, kicker Ivan Shuran’s 33-yard field goal in the final minute of the fourth quarter sent the game against Tufts into overtime. The Jumbos got a field goal on their first possession in OT. Williams answered with a four-yard touchdown run by Joel Nicholas.
“I really think our guys were tough-minded and really showed their toughness down the stretch,” said Raymond before practice Tuesday.
Bowdoin is 0-2, losing to Hamilton in the opener and last week to Trinity. The Polar Bears fell behind 17-0 at halftime and 24-0 early in the third quarter before kind of leveling the playing field after that.
Williams has not lost to Bowdoin since 2007, when the Polar Bears beat Williams 28-14, in a game on Weston Field.
Last year, Williams hosted Bowdoin at Farley-Lamb Field and routed the Polar Bears 41-10. In that game, the Ephs fell behind 3-0 but scored 27 unanswered points to win going away.
Three Ephs rushed for more than 100 yards. Quarterback Bobby Maimaron had 127 yards on eight carries and one touchdown, Nicholas had 104 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns, while Dan Vaughn ran for 101 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns.
Nicholas is NESCAC’s No. 6 rusher, averaging 70 yards per game. He and Trinity’s William Kirby share the conference lead with five touchdowns in two games.
For Bowdoin, senior quarterback Griff Stalcup from nearby Manchester, Vt., will run the offense. Stalcup has completed 59 percent of his passes, but has yet to throw a touchdown pass in 2021. He is also the No. 2 runner on the team behind tailback Andre Eden. On defense, defensive back Myles Hugee has a team-best 15 tackles, while linebacker Ty Jones-Garlan has 14. Jones-Garland went to Philadelphia prep school power St. Joseph’s Prep, but he is a very undersized linebacker at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds.
The Polar Bears are pretty young with 12 sophomores in their starting 22. Six of them are on each side of the ball.
“Defensively, they have an unorthodox way to play defense. They’re small, they’re fast and they play an aggressive style of defense. They have different coverage looks,” Raymond said. “Offensively, they have probably the best running back we’ve seen to date. They have a good quarterback, a veteran quarterback.
“On both sides of the ball, we’ll have to prepare well.”
Williams, meanwhile, has been doing some mixing and matching in some positions due to injury. It’s particularly apparent on the offensive line with juniors Xander Utecht and Daniel Vetaj making their first starts at right guard and right tackle, respectively.
“The guys who came in did a great job,” said Raymond. “We feel confident we can overcome anything that can happen to us.”
The Ephs also had some replacements on defense. Sophomore Calvin Jackson got a start on the defensive line alongside Ian Devine and C.J. Vilfort. At linebacker, Jarrett Wesner was out of the lineup and was replaced by sophomore Tim Landolfi. Landolfi, like Maimaron, is a Duxbury High School graduate. Landolfi had five tackles in the win over Tufts, one for loss.
“He did a really good job for his first time on a college football field,” the Williams coach said. “It’s not easy to replace a four-year starter.”
Raymond said Wesner is week-to-week.