Penalties, mistakes hurt Colby in home opener

WATERVILLE — When the Colby College football team reviews Saturday’s 24-7 loss to Williams, it will see a game full of missed opportunities and mistakes. While the Mules had just three penalties for 21 yards, two were drive killers. A second quarter hold to negate a first down near midfield. A third quarter chop block to put Colby in first down and 25 from its own 16 yard line.

“We hurt ourselves with penalties. We missed some open shots on third down. We just didn’t string plays together,” Colby head coach Jonathan Michaeles said. “We had 30 plays to their four to start the game, and we didn’t finish in the end zone. You’re not going to win many football games doing that.”

Williams improved to 2-0, while Colby is now 0-2.

Brandon Miner caught a six yard touchdown pass from Jack O’Brien with six seconds left in the first quarter, giving the Mules a 7-0 lead, but the combination of Mules mistakes and a tightening Williams defense kept Colby from mounting another scoring drive.

“It was just bend but don’t break. Keep pushing, keep executing. Really staying tough, no matter what happened. Just keep hitting,” Williams linebacker Austin Thomas, who had 1 1/2 sacks, said.

More than half of Colby’s total offense — 135 of 241 yards — came on two first quarter drives. After that, the Mules had just one drive of more than six plays, and it ended when the Ephs blocked a game-tying 44 yard field goal attempt blocked in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

Special teams miscues hurt the Mules throughout the game. After driving to the Williams 26 on the game’s opening drive, a bad snap prevented Colby from getting off a field goal try. A bad snap on a second quarter punt set the Ephs up at the Colby 12, leading to a 20-yard Myn Kyu Park field goal and a 10-7 Williams lead.

“Our special teams killed us. Bad snap, took a field goal opportunity off the board. Bad snap on a punt makes our defense lose all kinds of field position. That’s what can’t happen,” Michaeles said.

This game was still close, until Williams put it away with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. First, Justin Burke’s 19-yard touchdown catch from Bobby Maimaron capped a seven play, 71 yard drive and pushed the Williams lead to 17-7. With 1:37 to play, Ephs defensive lineman Chris Hattar recovered and returned a fumble 13 yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

For Williams, the two wins in two weeks matches the team’s best season-win total of the last four seasons. Once a New England Small College Athletic Conference power, Williams is looking for its first winning season since 2011.

“It feels great,” Thomas said of the back-to-back wins to open the season. “It’s toughness, both mentally and physically. We hit it hard in the offseason. Mentally locking in to make sure we’re all on the same page. I think the last two weeks we’ve outphysicaled the two teams we’ve played.”

Jake Schwern ran for 71 yards on 15 carries for the Mules. O’Brien ran for 36 yards and completed 26 of 45 passes for 141 yards. Christian Sparacio, who started at quarterback in last week’s season opening loss at Trinity, played his first game at wide receiver for Colby, and made two catches for 14 yards.

“They were both competing really well. We had two guys at the same position. Christian can play multiple positions. He showed that today. He’s a heck of a football player, and he selflessly makes that move. He just wants to win football games,” Michaeles said.

Linebacker TJ Rothman was in on 19 tackles for Williams, including nine solo. Safety Don Vivian made 12 stops for Colby and forced a fumble.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM