A year later, Williams College football team looks back on memorable comeback against Middlebury

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WILLIAMSTOWN — It was the game that put Williams College quarterback Bobby Maimaron, and the Ephs, on the NESCAC map. And it happened just about a year ago.

Williams had beaten Bowdoin, Colby and Bates while losing to Trinity. The win over Bowdoin had ended a 13-game losing streak.

It was an October road trip to play a Middlebury team that won the previous five games against the Ephs and were — at the time — a perfect 4-0.

By the time the sun had set on Vermont leaf peepers, Williams had earned its biggest win — so far — of the decade.

"I just remember we kind of got off to a slow start," Maimaron said after practice Monday. "We were looking for someone to get a big play. Then at halftime, we said let's just go out and play our game."

That Williams game included three fourth-quarter touchdowns, as the then-freshman quarterback helped rally the Ephs from a 12-point deficit after three quarters to beat the Panthers 27-26. Maimaron's second touchdown pass of the day, to freshman wide receiver Frank Stola with no time left on the clock, turned the loss into a win.

"We came out and really clicked on offense and defense in the second half," said the quarterback from Duxbury.

There were 2 minutes, 19 seconds on the clock, and Middlebury punter Maxwell Rye had just boomed a 52-yard punt into the end zone. The Ephs started the game-winning drive on their own 20.

Maimaron completed four straight passes, three to Stola, and it was first-and-10 from the Eph 46. Wide receiver Rashad Morrison, who scored on Williams' previous drive, was stripped by Ibrahim Nasir, but the Ephs recovered and only lost two yards.

A five-yard completion on third down to Stola kept the drive alive. Williams moved to the Panther 15 where Maimaron, who was 21 of 29 for 195 yards, threw an incompletion on first down. On second down, the Duxbury native bought some time with a scramble in the pocket, and found Stola in the end zone for the touchdown as the clock read 0:00.

"I think I threw a couple of potential interceptions on that drive, but I had a lot of good luck," he said, "and it ended up going our way."

It was not only a coming-out party for Maimaron, but every Eph who scored a touchdown on Oct. 14, 2017, was a freshman.

Whether it was freshman tight end Justin Burke, who caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give Williams its first points; to freshman wide receiver Morrison, whose 10-yard jet sweep run with 4:31 to play in the game cut the Middlebury lead to 26-21; to freshman running back T.J. Dozier, who helped the cause with 56 yards rushing, the youngsters stepped up in a big way.

"I remember the locker room at halftime," Williams coach Mark Raymond said. "We were down 12-0. Our guys didn't blink. We gave them some chances in the first half that put us behind.

"I think our guys wanted to drive and get back out there, and I felt good about what the mindset was at halftime."

The Williams defense came up big on the first series of the third quarter. Min Kyu Park's kickoff put the Panthers back on their own eight yard line. However, coach Bob Ritter's club marched 83 yards in 13 plays, but had a drive stall on the Williams nine. Carter Massingill missed a 25-yard field goal attempt wide left. That would have put Middlebury up by two touchdowns. Instead, it gave the Ephs the ball.

Williams got a break on its first scoring drive. Kevin Hopsicker had picked off a pass, but a flag for pass interference kept the Williams drive going. Four plays later, Maimaron hit Burke for a 22-yard touchdown pass play. The PAT made it 12-7.

Middlebury answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, and seemed poised to hold Williams off at arm's length.

It was a 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended in Morrison's run that cut the Middlebury lead to 26-21.

Williams's defense, which had given up 432 yards in total offense that Saturday, got a sack from T.J. Rothmann and Luke Apuzzi and then Sam Gowen tackled Peter Scibilia for a two-yard gain, forcing a punt.

That set the stage for the drive that changed Williams' season.

The rematch is Saturday.

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


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