College football: Williams doubles up Amherst in Biggest Little Game, 20-10

For the Gazette
Published: 11/12/2022 7:14:18 PM

WILLIAMSTOWN — Something had to give on Farley-Lamb Field Saturday afternoon.

When the Amherst College football team got off the bus, the coaches and players knew that despite a 2-6 record, a win over arch-rival Williams would make the winter a happier one.

Both the Mammoths and Ephs were in an unusual position, at the bottom of the NESCAC standings with identical records. But when the clock struck all zeroes, it was Williams that earned the happy feeling.

Williams running back Joel Nicholas ran for 205 yards on 33 carries, and a third-quarter touchdown pass gave the Ephs the lead for keeps as they held off Amherst, 20-10.

“We just couldn’t run the football,” Amherst coach E.J. Mills said. “And we just couldn’t make any connections down the field. It was a hard-fought game. I’m proud of the kids’ efforts, but we came up a little bit short.”

Nicholas, one of 26 seniors who played their last game on Farley-Lamb Field, went over 200 yards for the second time in his career, both of them against Amherst.

It is the third straight win for Williams over Amherst and the fourth victory in the last five years.

The go-ahead score came on the opening drive of the third quarter when quarterback Dan Vaughn and wide receiver Mike DeGasperis hooked up on a 29-yard catch-and-run. Williams locked the win up when Ivan Shuran kicked a 16-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining.

When the clock hit 0:00, all the emotion of a 3-6 season that started with optimism came pouring out.

"It's incredible. I'm as proud as I've been of any team," a choked-up Williams coach Mark Raymond said. "They showed up when it mattered today. They worked so hard. They deserved this win."

While the Williams offense racked up 351 yards in total offense to 174 for the Mammoths, the Williams defense set the tone on the game's first series when Ian Devine burst through the Amherst offensive line and sacked quarterback Mike Piazza. The Amherst quarterback was sacked twice, and until the fourth quarter, Amherst had only eight yards in total offense in the second half. 

Williams scored the first time it had the ball, needing 10 plays to go 45 yards before Vaughn scored on a 5-yard run. The rest of the half was a real defensive struggle. 

In fact, the Amherst defense got a turnover which led to the Mammoths' only touchdown. Vaughn's pass for Mike Bedard was high, went off the tight end's hands and was picked off by Andy Skirzenski. Seven plays later, Carson Ochsenhirt caught a 5-yard pass from Piazza for the game-tying touchdown. The Mammoths took the lead on a Conor Kennelly 28-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.

Williams had won the toss before the game and deferred, so the Ephs started the third quarter on offense. Williams took over on its 25 and promptly got two first downs on three carries by Nicholas and one by Vaughn. Williams ran the ball 55 times from scrimmage and those two ran all 55 times.

Vaughn, who completed 7 of 11 passes, had a big 11-yard pass to Nicholas on second-and-13 to make it third and manageable. Nicholas ran for seven yards and a big first down. Two plays later, Vaughn and Mike DeGasperis hooked up on a 29-yard pass play for six. DeGasperis caught the ball over the middle and cut toward the goal line, outrunning Amherst defenders to get in.

"Just running the cross, saw the corner get pulled out," DeGasperis said. "Dan just lined it up and put the ball on me, it was great. I saw the DBs yield on the goal line. My one thought was to get right through them and it worked out."

Vaughn completed six straight passes in the second half before throwing an incompletion on the final attempt. The Eph running game made it easier for the passing game in the second half. Williams ran the ball for 178 yards, and between just pounding the Amherst line or using a pitch on numerous carries, the Mammoth defense had no answers down the stretch.

A pair of Shuran field goals, one from 26 and one from 18 in the fourth quarter made it nearly impossible for Amherst to come back. That the Mammoths only managed two first downs in the second half until the final 30 seconds did not help either.

“I’m disappointed,” Mills said, “but they were the better team today.”

Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Valley Advocate Newsletter
Daily Hampshire Gazette Dining & Entertainment


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

23 Service Center Road
Northampton, MA 01060


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy