Trinity College scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 40-yard catch-and-run with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the undefeated Bantams went on to a 20-15 New England Small College Athletic Conference win against host Hamilton College at Steuben Field on Oct. 4.
Trinity's last-minute score spoiled the weekend for Hamilton's large Fallcoming crowd, and the Continentals' 2008 home opener. Hamilton (1-2 NESCAC) hosts Bowdoin College on Saturday, Oct. 11, at noon.
Mark Snickenberger '11 ran for a career-high 106 yards on 28 carries for the Continentals. Hamilton finished with 135 rushing yards to Trinity's 70. Starting quarterback Jordan Eck '12 was 8-for-14 for 112 yards with one touchdown, but he was knocked out of the game on the Continentals' second drive of the third quarter after a roughing-the-passer penalty on the Bantams.
Trinity (3-0) escaped with its second straight close win on the road in the last two weeks. The Bantams are ranked second in this week's New England Division III Top 10 poll.
Hamilton grabbed a 7-0 lead with 1:01 left in the second quarter. Eck completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Scott Kleinklaus '11 and George Taylor '11 added the PAT. Kleinklaus ended up with five catches for 74 yards. The Continentals' drive started at the Bantams' 39 after a Jon Higginbotham '11 interception and 15-yard face mask penalty on Trinity during the return.
Hamilton held on to its lead until the second play of the fourth quarter. The Bantams scored on an 11-yard pass play and tied the score with the point-after. Trinity took a 14-7 lead on another touchdown pass -- this one for 39 yards -- with 9:27 remaining in the fourth. The touchdown capped a four-play drive that took just 54 seconds off the clock.
The Continentals responded with a 5-play, 59-yard scoring drive of their own that culminated with a 37-yard heave down the middle of the field from backup quarterback Steve Mello '11 to Ryan Cray '12 with 7:57 left. The touchdown pass was the first of Mello's career. Cray finished with three catches for 67 yards. Mello was 5-for-12 for 64 yards.
Hamilton made a bold call to go for two points and the lead, and the decision paid off. Mello passed to Snickenberger out in the flat and Snickenberger lobbed it to Max Foster '10 in the back left corner of the end zone for a 15-14 advantage.
After Trinity reclaimed the lead in the final minute, the Continentals' Brian O'Malley '10 returned a squib kick 34 yards to the Bantams' 40. Hamilton's first pass fell incomplete, and the second one was intercepted at the 19-yard line, which clinched the win for Trinity.
Trevor Pedrick '09 paced the Continentals' defense with nine tackles. John Lawrence '10 added eight and an interception, while O'Malley was also credited with eight stops. Ted Finan '12 forced and recovered a fumble. Linus Walton '11 and Joe Bock '09 shared a sack.
Both teams turned the ball over three times. Hamilton held the ball for almost 35 minutes, but Trinity finished with the edge in total yards of offense, 338-311.