The football team fought valiantly in the final game of their 2022 season, but were ultimately defeated 20-10 by rival Williams in the 136th installment of the Biggest Little Game in America this weekend. With the loss, the Mammoths ended the year with a 2-7 record.
A classic college football rivalry returned to NESN this Saturday, Nov. 12, at Farley-Lamb Field in Williamstown, Massachusetts. In their biggest game of the season, the Amherst football team aimed to take down their archrivals, the Williams Ephs, who entered the game with an identical 2022 record (2-6). However, the Ephs were able to pull away in the second half to claim their third straight victory over Amherst by a 10-point margin.
It was the Williams offense that struck first on Saturday, finding the endzone on their first possession of the game to put the Ephs up by seven. However, as was the case numerous times this season, the Amherst defense was able to provide a spark and produce some momentum for the Mammoth offense. Late in the first quarter after Amherst went three-and-out on its first two possessions, linebacker Andy Skirzenski ’24 picked off a Williams pass to give Amherst the ball deep in Williams’ territory. One play later, quarterback Mike Piazza ’24 found receiver Carter Jung ’26 for a 16-yard gain to put the Mammoths in the red zone. A few plays later, on a third-and-goal from the five-yard line, Piazza connected with Carson Ochsenhirt ’24 for a five-yard score to put the Mammoths on the board. The extra point from Conor Kennelly ’23 tied the game at 7-7.
On their very next possession, the Mammoths put together a promising drive that included two third-down conversions from Piazza to again reach the red zone. However, on a third-and-10 at the Ephs’ 18-yard line, Piazza connected with Jack Roberge ‘25 who was stopped 3 yards short of the line to gain . A 28-yard field goal from Kennelly instead put the Mammoths up 10-7 with seven minutes remaining in the half.
While the Amherst defense held Williams scoreless for the rest of the first half, the Ephs came out of halftime strong and regained the lead on their opening possession of the third quarter. A 29-yard touchdown pass put the Ephs up 14-10 with 10:09 left in the third. From there, the Amherst offense stalled, as they failed to gain a first down for the entire rest of the quarter. To make matters worse, on their first drive of the fourth quarter, a reverse option pass from Ochsenhirt — a trick play meant to try and jump-start their stagnant offense — was picked off. But again, the Mammoth defense was able to bend and not break. A Skirzenski sack forced Williams to settle for a field goal early in the fourth, which made it 17-10 in favor of the Ephs and kept the lead at one score.
Ultimately, the Amherst offense was not able to take advantage of the numerous stops by their defense. The offense began a promising drive with eight minutes to play, immediately following the Williams field goal. A 23-yard pass from Piazza to Jung opened up the drive, putting the Mammoths at the Williams 48-yard line. However, they failed to pick up another first down, and a decision to punt would ultimately doom the Mammoths. On the ensuing drive, Williams would run out the clock and hold onto the ball for nearly six minutes, concluding a dominant 79-yard drive with a field goal to go up 20-10 with only 30 seconds remaining. Time would ultimately run out on Amherst’s season on the ensuing possession, and they left Williamstown with their seventh loss of the season.
Amherst football’s 2022 season was a tough one, to say the least. Their 2-7 record is the program’s worst of the 21st century. Many familiar themes permeated those defeats, including in the season-ending loss to Williams. The team struggled to finish out close games, as Saturday was the fifth time the Mammoths lost by 11 points or less this season. Additionally, the Amherst offense struggled to score, as they have all season: They were outgained by Williams 376 to 174 in total yardage on Saturday. The Mammoths will look to improve on this season next fall, when they will return to Pratt Field to begin the 2023 season.