The Tufts football team secured a vital road win over the weekend, winning 35–28 over the Williams College Ephs. In their last 10 matchups, the Jumbos have been 6–4 against the Ephs, just losing to them in overtime last season, 32–29. Both teams were 1–1 in the conference, entering the game and looking to improve their place in the standings.
The game started off slow, with both offenses unable to get much going. The scoreboard didn’t change until there were just 26 seconds left in the quarter, when Williams sophomore running back Mario Fischetti scored a touchdown from the nine-yard line to put the Ephs up 7–0.
The Jumbos were finally able to get their offense moving towards the middle of the second quarter. A long pass from sophomore quarterback Michael Berluti to junior wide receiver Jaden Richardson picked up 45 yards and took Tufts to midfield. Tufts sophomore wide receiver Cade Moore made a solid catch, and paired with a Williams penalty, the Jumbos moved deeper into Eph territory. Berluti then hit his favorite target, senior wide receiver Phil Lutz, in the end zone for a touchdown. Lutz leaped over his defender and pinned the ball against his back. The refs conferred before ultimately confirming the touchdown call to tie the game up at 7–7.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior kicker Patrick Walsh didn’t kick the ball as high as he would have liked to, and Fischetti was able to return the ball all the way to the Tufts 46-yard line. From there, Williams didn’t have to go very far, and Fischetti capped off an impressive drive by running the ball in from the 36-yard line for his second score of the day.
Trailing 14–7 with just under two minutes to play, the Jumbos set up their offense on their own 20-yard line, but couldn’t get anything going. Walsh punted away and Williams took over with a minute remaining. As there were just a few seconds remaining on the clock, Williams attempted a field goal from the 36-yard line, but it was blocked by sophomore defensive lineman Dom DeCrescenzo. Junior defensive back Victor Garza scooped up the loose ball and returned it all the way for 75 yards and a touchdown to tie the game up at 14–14 going into halftime.
The third quarter picked up right where the second left off, with scores from both teams. Tufts forced a three and out for Williams and then mounted a long drive where Berluti completed five out of his six passes and capped it off with a touchdown to Richardson. First-year kicker Vaughn Seelicke missed the extra point, so Tufts only took the lead 20–14.
Williams responded with another solid drive of its own, as Fischetti ripped off another long return to put the Ephs in good field position. Williams relied heavily on Fischetti, consistently picking up small chunks of yardage until junior quarterback Jack Dickinson ran the ball into the end zone to take the lead for Williams, 21–20.
On the next drive, Berluti was perfect on his passing and got all the way to the Williams 40-yard line before lofting a long pass to Richardson in the end zone. Instead of trying the extra point, Tufts attempted the two-point conversion and succeeded as Berluti hit Lutz in the end zone to put Tufts up 28–21.
The Jumbos forced a punt from Williams, and the punt was shanked, granting Tufts a good field position to start off the fourth quarter. Berluti and company got a little bit of luck as Williams was called for a pass interference penalty that brought the ball to the 23-yard line. Berluti then hit senior wide receiver Jackson Butler in the end zone to extend the Jumbos’ lead to 35–21.
Williams was able to respond as Dickinson finally got some big pickups in the passing game and hit his receiver for 31 yards and a touchdown to close the gap to 35–28. Williams then forced a Tufts punt, but the Jumbos’ defense held strong and didn’t allow the Ephs down the field. Williams punted away and Tufts was able to run some time off the clock but couldn’t mount a significant drive. Berluti pooch punted on fourth and 12 with a minute remaining to pin Williams on its own 12-yard line. After a few plays picking up yards, Dickinson spiked the ball to stop the clock near midfield and the Ephs attempted a lateral play to try and score in the dying seconds. The Tufts defense stayed solid and tackled the ball carrier as time expired on the game.
“Our goal this whole week has been to stack two road wins in a row, and especially when you have to go all the way out to Williams, that [adds] an extra element to it all, but we knew the game was gonna be physical, and if we could come out fast and play physical we would put ourselves in a good spot,” Richardson wrote in a message to the Daily.
The Ephs’ Fischetti had a huge day, but it wasn’t enough to get the win for Williams. He rushed for 133 yards and scored two touchdowns while also receiving 91 yards. In addition to all of that, he had 128 kickoff return yards.
Berluti had a monster day, going 28 for 33 for 402 yards and four touchdowns. He now leads the NESCAC in passing yards, with 919 in the season so far. Lutz built on his impressive resume by securing eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown, solidifying his spot at the top of the conference’s receiving yards chart. Richardson had an impressive day, totaling 10 catches for 159 yards and two scores.
“We’re a resilient team, and everybody in the locker room knows and trusts that everybody around them has [their] back and is going to leave it all out there for each other,” wrote Richardson.
Tufts improves its record to 2–1 on the season and moves to fourth in the conference. The team will return home on Oct. 8 for a matchup against Bowdoin in its homecoming game.