SOMERVILLE - Senior tri-captain Chance Brady broke the Tufts football program's career rushing touchdowns record while scoring four times to lead the Jumbos in a 35-16 victory against Williams College on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon at Ellis Oval / Zimman Field.
The Jumbos improved to 4-1 overall, earning a third straight win in the series against Williams for the first time since 1979-81. The victory also assured Tufts of its third consecutive .500 or better record for the first time since 2006-08.
Brady rushed for 157 yards on 26 carries overall. His four touchdowns also tied Tufts' single-game record held by four other Jumbos, most recently Damon Adams in 1995. His nine touchdowns this season give him 25 for his career, surpassing the previous Jumbo career record of 24 shared by Paul Dresens (1985-88) and Dan Morse (1995-98).
Williams, which was led by 101 yards on the ground in 22 carries by sophomore Noah Sorrento, dropped to 0-5 overall.
The visiting Ephs led 9-7 early in the second quarter before the Jumbos strung together 21 straight points to take a 28-9 advantage in the third. A Williams touchdown at 6:20 of the fourth quarter kept their hopes alive at 28-16, but the Jumbos recovered an on-side kick and added a late touchdown to nail down the win.
The rain was the heaviest in the first quarter and Williams took advantage. The Jumbos fumbled on a punt return with Eph Alex Brandeis recovering at the Tufts 40. Williams turned that into a 26-yard Adam Regensburg field goal and a 3-0 lead at 9:51 of the period.
The Jumbos would get to the end zone with a nine-play, 58-yard drive later in the opening quarter. Tufts was fortunate to recover their own fumble on the drive with Mike Rando grabbing the ball to convert a first down. Sophomore QB Ryan McDonald added a 20-yard run and Brady scored his first touchdown on a two-yard rush at 00:35 for a 7-3 Tufts lead.
Williams would answer immediately on their next drive. Freshman QB Peter Cahill lofted a beautiful 15-yard pass to the back left corner of the end zone where sophomore Tyler Patterson caught it capping a 13-play, 68-yard possession. The Ephs survived two fumbles with own recoveries, received a 17-yard run by Connor Harris, had a 20-yard Cahill to Patterson completion on third-and-11, then set up first and goal with a 15-yard pass from freshman QB Jansen Durham to Regensburg. The Ephs missed the extra point and led 9-7 at 8:29 of the second quarter.
The Tufts defense would shut off the Ephs for the next 32 minutes while Brady ran wild. His one-yard touchdown at 2:13 of the second quarter put the hosts up 14-9 heading into halftime. He covered 37 of Tufts' 46 yards on the scoring drive.
Jumbo sophomore Tim Preston intercepted his third pass of the season and returned it 21 yards to the Williams 13 with 1:56 to go until intermission. However, Tufts couldn't turn it into points as they missed a 32-yard field goal.
Brady broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run putting Tufts up 21-9 at 9:30 of the third quarter. After the Jumbo defense forced a three-and-out by Williams, Brady scored again on Tufts' next drive and led 28-9 with 4:29 to play in the third quarter. Brady's two-yard touchdown was preceded by a 15-yard run from him.
As the game went into the fourth quarter, Tufts junior J.P. Garcia intercepted Patterson in the Jumbo end zone on a trick play by the Ephs.
Williams would keep itself in the game with an 11-play 70-yard touchdown drive culminated by a one-yard TD run from Cahill. Sorrento (42 yards on the drive) and Harris (20 yards) did the heavy lifting and the Ephs were within 12 (28-16) with 6:20 on the fourth-quarter clock.
Tufts would take care of business in the closing minutes. Jumbo Sebastian Rivera recovered the Ephs' on-side kick. After a Tufts punt, Jumbos Nmesoma Nwaforand David Neville combined on a fourth-down sack giving the ball back to Tufts at the Eph 15. Jumbo senior Max Athy capped the scoring with his first career touchdown from 13 yards out.
Tufts rushed for 266 yards on 53 carries for a 5.0 average. McDonald added 58 yards on 11 rushes and Dominic Borelli gained 32 yards on 10 totes. The Jumbos threw just 13 passes with six completions.
Williams was also successful on the ground with 227 yards on 55 rushes (4.1 average). Harris supported Sorrento with 86 yards on 17 carries. Cahill finished with 41 yards and a touchdown on the ground to go with 73 yards and a score through the air. Patterson made three catches for 65 yards. The Ephs out-gained the Jumbos 320 total yards to 288.
Tufts senior Willie Holmquist, NESCAC's leader, boomed six punts for a 42.5-yard average that helped the Jumbos win the field position battle. Fellow league-leader Greg Holt finished with 15 tackles for Tufts, including two for loses and a half-sack. Garcia added eight stops and a pass break-up to his interception for the Jumbos.
Luke Apuzzi and Brandeis were tied atop the Williams tackles chart with nine apiece.
The Jumbos hit the road to play at Amherst College next Saturday. Williams is at Hamilton that day.