Joel Nicholas scores touchdown

Williams’ Joel Nicholas celebrates his touchdown as he crosses the goal line, after weaving through a field of players in a football game against Trinity College at Farley-Lamb Field in Williamstown. Saturday, October 30, 2021.

WILLIAMSTOWN — And then there was one.

The season isn't nearly over yet, but with two weeks remaining in the 2021 NESCAC football campaign, the Williams football team is the only undefeated team still standing.

"We've got to obviously finish the job, or it doesn't matter," Williams linebacker T.J. Rothmann said after the Ephs knocked Trinity from the ranks of the perfect with a 42-3, take-them-behind-the-woodshed thrashing Saturday afternoon at Farley-Lamb Field.

"We'll enjoy this one while we can," he said. "Then, we have two more left, so it's on to Wesleyan."

The 7-0 Ephs became the only undefeated team left in NESCAC after Amherst beat Wesleyan 16-14 in a four-overtime thriller in Middletown, Conn. The Cardinals will be here on Saturday, and if they can knock Williams from the ranks of the undefeated, will still have a chance at sharing a Little Three championship.

"We've got to stay focused, keep doing what we do," said Williams running back Joel Nicholas, "and the season will come out the way we want it to."

The Ephs were proficient in all three phases of the game. Defensively, the Ephs held what had been the top offense in NESCAC in check for 60 minutes. The Bantams had only 183 yards in total offense, the fewest yards they have gained in recent memory. First-year quarterback Spencer Fetter, one of the current leaders in the race for NESCAC Rookie of the Year, managed to complete 15 of 28 passes, but for only 141 yards. Defensive lineman Ian Devine sacked Fetter twice in the game, and now leads NESCAC with 5 1/2 sacks. The Ephs broke up eight passes in the game, while linebacker Edward Manzella picked off a Fetter pass.

"They have some of the best receivers in the league. [Jonathan Girard] is a big body. Coach Mac [defensive coordinator Mark McDonough] had an awesome game plan, as always," said cornerback Rocco Giandomenico, who broke up three passes intended for the 6-foot-4 Girard. "Our game plan going into it was shut the run down early, which we did and not give them anything deep, anything in the air. Everybody played great. Our D-line was awesome. It's easy to defend when they're killing the quarterback on every play."

Fetter had no pass play go longer than 20 yards. The first of two sacks by Devine, meanwhile, set this game on its proverbial ear.

Williams won the toss and elected to defer. The Bantams fair caught the kickoff and started the drive on their 25-yard line. After moving the chains, the Bantams faced third-and-8 on the 38, but Devine broke through and sacked Fetter for a loss of 6 yards. Nick Mangino dropped back in punt formation, but Trinity long snapper Crawford Sargent sailed the ball over the punter's head. Mangino fell on the ball on the Bantam 6-yard line. Two plays later, Eph quarterback Bobby Maimaron faked a handoff to Nicholas and took it in virtually untouched from 3 yards out. Ivan Shuran's point-after kick made it 7-0, and the Ephs never trailed.

Williams made it a two-score game, holding the Bantams on downs. Two fumbles — both recovered by Trinity — helped blunt the drive. The Williams defense did the rest.

"Trinity, especially, is a team that tries to take big chunks out of us," Giandomenico said. "All week, we were saying let them catch the little stuff, the three-step drops and don't give them anything big."

Devine said the defense got to Fetter early, which kept him uncomfortable for 60 minutes.

"We knew he was a gunslinger all week. We knew he had some very good receivers and that they posed a very big threat in the passing game," the Eph defensive end said. "We knew that was going to be on the D-line to contain him without having us blitz. We kept grinding every single day. We wanted this, and I think it showed today."

Offensively, the Ephs have been a Maimaron-led group. But on Saturday, it was the junior from Buffalo, N.Y., who dominated the offense. Nicholas ran the ball 17 times for 172 net yards and touchdowns of 39, 26 and 14 yards. The number of carries and yards were both career highs. It was the first 100-yard rushing game since Maimaron ran for 162 in the season opener against Middlebury and the most by a Williams running back since Dan Vaughn ran for 123 back in 2019's 29-15 win over Trinity in Hartford, Conn.

They rang up 375 yards in total offense, averaging 7.2 yards per play. They ran the rock more than proficiently, gaining 313 yards on 45 carries.

Nicholas' skills were on full display for his first touchdown. He took a handoff from Maimaron, got outside, broke three tackles, did a 360 spin and high-stepped his way into the end zone.

"That's just sheer will for us," said Nicholas. "We wanted to score. Coming into the game, we knew they were going to be good tacklers. We just wanted it more at the end of the day."

Former Mount Greylock athlete Cal Messina got on the field in the fourth quarter for Trinity. The sophomore running back had three carries for a net 10 yards. His longest run was seven yards. 

It was the largest margin of victory for a Williams team over Trinity since the Ephs won 50-21 back in 1995. The Ephs have also won two straight against Trinity for the first time since winning six straight between 1997-2002.

"We wanted to make sure we got the running game going and were physical on both sides of the ball," Williams head coach Mark Raymond said. "The guys prepared so well and executed flawlessly today."

———
Trinity           0     3     0     0     —     3
Williams     14     7     7     14     —     42
First Quarter
W — Maimaron 3 run (Shuran kick), 10:35.
W — Vaughn 33 pass from Maimaron (Shuran kick), 3:14.
Second Quarter
T — Trout 24 FG, 10:10.
W — Nicholas 39 run (Shuran kick), 4:36.
Third Quarter
W — Nicholas 26 run (Shuran kick), 3:02.
Fourth Quarter
W — Nicholas 14 run (Shuran kick), 12:51.
W — Vaughn 12 run (Shuran kick), 6:08.
———
                          Trin     Will
First Downs           11     19
Rushes-yards     32-42     45-313
Passing yards        141     62
Comp-Att-Int     15-28-1     4-7-0
Total offense     60-183     52-375
Penalties-yards     7-68     5-36
Fumbles-lost          2-0     1-0
Punts-Avg.         5-34.8     4-33.5
Time of possession     29:02     30:58
———
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING — Trinity: Kirby 21-69, Messina 3-10, Reid 1-2, McCabe 1-2, Zebrowski 1-0, Fetter 4-(minus-15), Mangino 1-(minus-26). Williams: Nicholas 17-172, Maimaron 12-58, Fischetti 8-50, Vaughn 4-24, Parks 2-5, Justin Rivers 1-2, DeGasperis 1-2
PASSING — Trinity: Fetter 15-28-1 141. Williams: Maimaron 4-7-0 62.
RECEIVING — Trinity: Girard 4-51, Reid 4-44, Kirby 4-30, Barrett 3-16. Williams: Vaughn 2-47, Stola 1-9, Burke 1-6.

Howard Herman can be reached at  hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. 

Sportswriter-Columnist

Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.