The Hamilton College football team rallied three times, taking the lead for good in the fourth quarter to beat host Williams 20-17 Saturday in Williamstown, Mass.
The Continentals earned their first win of the season, snapping a 25-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 13, 2012.
Cole Freeman '18 threw a pair of touchdown passes to Charles Ensley '17 and Jason Nastovski '18 scored the winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Continental defense held the Ephs (2-4 overall) to 20 yards on their final three drives to seal the win.
Nastovski’s winning touchdown capped an 11-play, 68-yard drive that began with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. Hamilton capitalized on a pair of Williams personal foul penalties (one negated a seven-yard loss for the Continentals) and converted a third-and-18, with Freeman’s 27-yard completion to Nick Caso '16 keeping the drive alive by moving the visitors to midfield.
LaShawn Ware '18 gained 11 yards on a pair of carries and Williams was flagged for a late hit and a face mask violation on consecutive plays to put Hamilton at the Williams 15, trailing 17-14. Nastovski gained eight yards on first down and Kory Fogarty '19 set the Continentals up with a first and goal by running three yards to the four. Nastovski, who finished with 35 yards rushing, took the ball to the three and after both teams called a timeout with 11:22 on the clock, put Hamilton ahead with a three-yard burst into the end zone.
Hamilton’s defense shut down Williams the rest of the way, allowing just one first down. The Ephs’ final possession started on their own nine-yard line with 1:42 left to play after Hamilton’s Pat Donahoe '16 dropped his sixth punt of the day inside the hosts’ 15; Cole Burchill ’19 and Mickey Keating ’17 stopped Williams' Mark Pomella after a two-yard return and another personal foul penalty moved the Ephs back inside the nine.
Tyler Hudson ’19 sacked Austin Lommen for a seven-yard loss on first down and after a pair of short completions moved Williams to the 14, he harassed Lommen into an incomplete pass on fourth and five to set off a celebration as the Continentals celebrated their first road win in 28 games (since beating Wesleyan 17-7 on Sept. 28, 2008).
Hudson finished with five solo stops. Alex Mitko ’16 led all players with 10 tackles, including a pair for loss.
Nastovski’s winning touchdown was the sixth lead change of the game. Ensley caught a 41-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter and scored on a 21-yard reception six minutes into the second half.
Ensley finished with 84 yards on five catches. Freeman completed 13 of 27 passes for 180 yards.
After Williams opened the scoring on a 37-yard field goal by Bobby Webster, Freeman led Hamilton 76 yards on six plays with the first of Ensley’s career-best two scoring receptions giving the Continentals their first lead of the game. Ensley’s 41-yard catch --which was Hamilton’s first first-half touchdown of the season -- came one play after Nastovski was stopped for no gain on a third-and-one at midfield but an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction against Williams gave the Continentals a first down (one of five times they picked up a first down by penalty).
Hamilton took the second-half kickoff and drove 62 yards in 12 plays with Ware gaining 11 yards on the ground and catching a pair of passes for 13 yards. He finished with a game-high 68 rushing yards, running out of the tailback spot and taking direct handoffs in the wildcat formation.
Lommen threw for 242 yards, completing 26 of 41 passes. Pomella was the Ephs’ leading receiver, catching five passes for 89 yards. Darrias Sime gained 83 yards on seven passes.
Webster’s field goal that opened the scoring came after a 34-yard punt return by Pomella that set Williams up on Hamilton’s 29. He missed a 21-yard attempt on the Ephs’ next possession and both his PAT tries were no good.
A 67-yard catch by Pomella set up the Ephs’ first touchdown, with Lommen throwing a two-yard scoring pass to Sime.
Ensley’s second touchdown catch put the Continentals back ahead and Zach Altneu ’18 followed with his second PAT to give Hamilton a 14-9 lead.
Williams responded by eating up 8:41 of the third quarter, with the 16-play, 77-yard drive culminating in a 12-yard TD catch by Sime. The Ephs extended their lead to three on a two-point conversion pass from Lommen to Adam Regensburg.
Matt Glebus '17 and Conor Powers '17 both had eight tackles for Hamilton. Cornerback Jimmy Giattino '17 recorded three solo stops and broke up a pair of passes.
Elijah Eaton led the Ephs with nine tackles. Jack Ryan made six stops and was in on all three Williams sacks.
Hamilton makes its final road trip of the season next weekend, playing a 12:30 p.m. road game at Middlebury. The Old Rocking Chair Classic traveling trophy will be at stake for the 36th consecutive year.