Lord Jeffs sack Ephs
AMHERST — The Amherst College football team ended its season and an era at Pratt Field with a comeback win Saturday afternoon over historic rival Williams.
The Jeffs (6-2) overcame a 10-point deficit by scoring the final 13 points in the fourth quarter for a 23-20 win over the Ephs (4-4) in the Biggest Little Game in America. Amherst has won three of the last four meetings between the two, although Williams still leads the series 71-51-5.
“They’d remember this one if they didn’t win it,” Jeffs coach E.J. Mills said. “This is the most important game. … It just makes everybody feel better for the winner.”
Although Amherst missed out on a conference title and an undefeated season this year, the victory gives the Jeffs the Little Three championship.
“The Williams game is always the most important any year you’re playing no matter what your record is,” Amherst quarterback Max Lippe said.
Lippe finished with 153 passing yards on 12-of-21 attempts with one touchdown. He also scored twice on 2-yard runs.
Lippe split the snaps with freshman Jonathan Pieterse who went five-of-eight with 77 yards.
Freshman Sean Wilson did much of the rushing for the Jeffs with 127 yards. It was the freshman’s first 100-yard game.
“He just did a great job,” Mills said. “He’s a tough, tough kid.”
Junior Steven Jellison, who emerged as Amherst’s top running back after Ryan Silva spent much of the season on the bench with an injury, was contained by the Ephs’ defense. Jellison finished with 36 yards on 13 carries.
James Durham had seven catches totaling 39 yards and one touchdown for the Jeffs, and Jake O’Malley caught five passes for 87 yards.
Amherst trailed for much of the contest, starting with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Williams quarterback Tom Murphy to wide receiver Darren Hartwell with 11 minutes, 39 seconds to play in the first quarter.
After a fumble recovery, the Jeffs went 50 yards on eight plays and tied the score on the first of Lippe’s rushing touchdowns.
The Ephs regained the lead on a 16-yard halfback pass from Marco Hernandez to Hartwell with 3:05 to play in the first.
The teams exchanged field goals in the second quarter as Williams took a 17-10 lead at halftime.
The Ephs extended their lead to 20-10 with the only score of the third quarter, a 20-yard field goal.
The comeback began with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Lippe to Durham with 14:55 left, and ended with Lippe’s second touchdown run with 10:08 to play.
“We had a couple big plays,” Lippe said. “Guys kept grinding, never got down for a minute and got it done.”
On the next possession, Williams had a chance to tie with a 47-yard field goal attempt by Joe Mallock which went wide left.
An interception by Jaymie Spears with 31 seconds to play sealed the win for Amherst.
“There was such emotion in the game,” Mills said. “It was big time, that’s what the rivalry’s all about. Us coming out, them coming out and just having a great day of football.”
Pratt Field was filled with fans – waving flags, cooking burgers and sipping beer.
The game was the last on natural turf at the field, which will undergo an extensive makeover in the offseason, including the addition of a new fieldhouse, grandstands and track.