After one quarter of play in Oneonta, BR-46 Hartwick was down 20-5 to BR-11 Alfred. Instead of getting down on themselves, the Hawks got busy. The comeback trail started on their first possession of the second quarter, when junior wide receiver Tanner Williams caught a 21-yard TD pass to cut the Alfred margin to nine. It was his fourth catch of the day, but certainly not his last. Williams caught five more passes, for two more TDs, and the Hawks came back to take the 34-30 win.
The Hawks gained a total of 358 yards on the day, 269 of them through the air from quarterback John Garcia. The junior QB went 15-for-33 with 3 TDs and 1 INT. A solid day no doubt, but the player who deserves credit for Hawks’ offensive production isn’t the man throwing the ball, but the man catching it.
Tanner Williams caught nine passes on 12 targets for 207 yards and all three of Garcia’s touchdowns. Subtract Williams’ production, and you’re left with a quarterback who went 6-for-21 for 62 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. Suffice to say Garcia was happy to have his junior receiver Saturday.
Saturday’s comeback win wasn’t even Williams’ best performance of the young season. He caught 13 passes on 17 targets for 255 yards and 3 scores in Hartwick’s 43-38 week one win over Western Connecticut. In the two games in between, he caught “just” three passes for 79 yards in a loss to Morrisville State and “only” five passes for 57 yards in another loss at Ithaca.
The Hawks are 2-0 when Williams has 200+ receiving yards and 3 TDs, and 0-2 when he doesn’t reach 100 yards or score. There’s a pattern there. Whether the trend is, “when Williams scores, Hartwick wins,” or, “when Williams has 200 yards and 3 TDs, Hartwick wins,” remains to be seen. The second statement is almost certainly true. The first … we’ll see.
Williams’ 598 yards so far this season lead the Empire-8. In fact, he’s over 100 yards ahead of second place Mike Doherty of Buffalo State, who has 479. With BR-6 St. John Fisher coming to town next weekend, fresh off their first loss of the season, Garcia better make a concerted effort to feed Williams the rock. Because when he does, the Hawks win.
Williams earned second team All-Empire-8 honors in each of the last two seasons, but just four games into the season, second team seems unlikely this time around. Mike Doherty and Anthony Acevedo were the two first team All-E8 receivers from last season. These are their stats from last season:
Doherty: 10 games, 59 receptions, 1,029 yards, 6 TDs
Acevedo: 9 games, 72 receptions, 955 yards, 6 TDs
If Williams holds his current pace for the rest of Hartwick’s ten-game regular season, he’ll finish with 75 receptions, 1,495 yards, and 15 TDs. For further perspective, compare Williams’ projected stat line with the 2013 stat lines of Kyle Linville of Franklin and Tyler Rutenbeck of Dubuque, who were American Football Coaches’ Association All-Americans at wide receiver last season.
Linville: 12 games, 108 receptions, 1,374 yards, 14 TDs
Rutenbeck: 10 games, 68 receptions, 1,269 yards, 22 TDs
Williams (projected): 10 games, 75 receptions, 1,495 yards, 15 TDs
It’s still early, but if Williams can keep this up he won’t get second team anything.