Hamilton Loses Heartbreaker to Trinity
CLINTON, NY - Eric McGrath '09 completed a 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass to Connor Wells '09 with 23 seconds left to lift visiting Trinity College to a 20-15 New England Small College Athletic Conference football victory against Hamilton College at Steuben Field on Oct. 4.
Wells and McGrath hooked up for a 39-yard score earlier in a wild fourth quarter that featured 28 points. Wells finished with seven catches for a game-high 156 yards and the two touchdowns. McGrath was 22-of-42 for 268 yards with three TD passes and two interceptions.
Hamilton (1-2 NESCAC) was led by Mark Snickenberger '11, who ran for a career-high 106 yards on 28 carries. The Continentals finished with 135 rushing yards to Trinity's 70. Hamilton starting quarterback Jordan Eck '12 was 8-for-14 for 112 yards with one TD and one interception, 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. The injury, however, is not considered serious and he is expected to be fine for Hamilton's next game.
Trinity (3-0) escaped with its second straight close win on the road in the last two weeks. The Bantams have won 14 consecutive games against Hamilton as the Continentals' last win in the series came in 1994, 22-21. Trinity, which leads the all-time series, 30-11-1, is 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. Joe Lennon '09 hauled in an 11-yard from McGrath in the front-right side of the end zone, and Adam Cox '09 tied the score with the point-after. The Bantams took a 14-7 lead on the first scoring pass from McGrath to Wells with 9:27 remaining in the fourth. The 39-yard play 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 TD pass down the middle of the field from Steve Mello '11 to Ryan Cray '12 with 7:57 left. Hamilton went for two points and the lead, and was successful. Mello passed to Snickenberger out in the flat and Snickenberger lobbed it to Max Foster 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 by Ben Sherry '11 at the 19-yard line, which clinched the win for Trinity.
The Bantams' Tyler Berry '09 led all players with 12 tackles and Matt Allen '11 added 10. Harryl Smith '09 intercepted two passes and broke up two others. The Continentals' defense was paced by Trevor Pedrick '09, who was credited with nine tackles. John Lawrence '10 added eight and an interception. Ted Finan '12 forced and recovered a fumble.
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.
The Continentals host Bowdoin College for another NESCAC game on Saturday, Oct. 11, at noon. The Bantams return home to play Tufts University on Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m.