Williams football team welcomes Bates to town on Saturday

WILLIAMSTOWN — Last Saturday, Williams gave up two touchdowns in a 17-9 loss at Trinity. Both scores came after the Ephs turned the ball over deep in their own territory.

Last year, that might have been a death knell for a Williams team. While the Ephs could not overcome the turnovers, the fact that with 12 minutes left to play, they were down five points is a significant difference in 2017.

"They've developed a lot of trust in each other, a lot of belief in themselves and the team," Williams coach Mark Raymond said earlier this week. "They hung in there. There wasn't anything that wasn't going to deter their confidence, and they kept driving."

While the Ephs did not cave in last week's game, how they respond seven days later will be interesting. Williams will take to Farley-Lamb Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. when the Ephs host Bates.

Williams may hold a 23-6 advantage in the all-time series with the Bobcats, but playing the team from Maine has been a bit of a horror show for Williams lately.

All six Bates victories have come since 2000. That first win by the Bobcats came in 2003 when former Hoosac Valley quarterback Chris Gwozdz led Bates to a 10-7 win on old Weston Field. That win ended a 16-loss streak for Bates.

Since 2010, Williams is 2-5 against Bates, and lost four straight before a 16-14 victory back in 2015. That win came at Farley-Lamb Field. It's the only win at home for the Ephs since 2010.

Bates is coming to Williamstown 0-3, and lost to Tufts 37-17 last week.

Like Williams, Bates has installed a freshman quarterback. Brendan Costa ran for 97 yards and a touchdown and threw for 134 more in the loss.

Costa, from Westport, runs Bates' triple-option offense. The Bobcats play with one running back and four wide receivers, using a lot of motion and misdirection. It's an offense that nobody else in NESCAC plays, which makes it more difficult to prepare for.

"Bates is a tough group to prepare for. They're different on both sides of the ball," said Raymond. "They run the triple option, which creates its own unique challenges. The defense is very aggressive. They give you a lot of different looks.

"They'll be a real tough challenge for us next week."

Costa and the Bobcats have the No. 9 (out of 10) offense in NESCAC, but they are fourth in the conference in rushing.

The Williams defense, meanwhile, has been outstanding. Save for the two, 14-yard touchdown drives, the Ephs gave up only a field goal last week against offensive powerhouse Trinity.

"The upperclassmen have stepped up in a big way, with a couple of young guys sprinkled in," Raymond said. "[Defensive coordinator] Mark McDonough has come in here and done a great job coaching."

The Williams linebacking corps of freshmen T.J. Rothmann and Jarrett Wesner, and sophomore Luke Apuzzi, have jelled as a group and helped keep the Bantam offense from getting rolling. Rothmann is third in NESCAC in tackles.

"I think all week they were" ready for Trinity, said Raymond. "Our practices had gone well. They worked hard during the week and it translates on Saturdays."

Reach sports writer Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.


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