Football Preview: Bates prepares for Middlebury's aerial attack

Bates looks to its offensive line to pave the way for the NESCAC's second-leading rushing offense. File photo by Mike Bradley/Bates College.

LEWISTON, Maine – Through four games, the Bates football team sits at 2-2, just as it did at the midpoint of last season, as the Bobcats prepare to face Middlebury College — the NESCAC's top passing team — on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Garcelon Field.

Middlebury leads the all-time series 39-14-3, including the past 24 contests, dating to 1989. The Bobcats last defeated the Panthers in 1988, a 27-24 decision.

The Particulars

What: Bates College vs. Middlebury College

When: Saturday, Oct. 19, 1:00 p.m.

Where: Garcelon Field | Lewiston, Maine

Live Stats: Bates Portal | Video: Bates Webcast

Twitter: @BatesSports | Facebook: Bates College Athletics

All-Time Series: Middlebury leads 39-14-3

Last Meeting: Middlebury 38, Bates 23 (Middlebury, Vt. | Oct. 20, 2012)

Bates Facts & Figures
  • Bates ranks second in the NESCAC in rushing offense, averaging 241.5 yards per game on the ground. The team leads the league with 259 total carries and stands second in the conference with eight rushing touchdowns.
  • Senior Shawn Doherty leads the NESCAC in all-purpose yards (168.8 yards per game) and sits at fifth in the league in rushing (91.5 yards per game). On the season, the slotback has compiled 366 rushing yards, 273 kick return yards, and 36 receiving yards.
  • Senior diveback Ryan Curit ranks sixth in the NESCAC in rushing with 83.2 yards per game. He ran for a team-high 59 yards on 16 carries against Wesleyan.
  • Junior cornerback Mike Kelleher recorded 10 tackles at Wesleyan, marking the second time this season and the third time in his career that he has reached double-digit tackles in a game.
  • In an all-around effort, junior linebacker Gilbert Brown tallied nine tackles (two for loss), a sack, and a forced fumble against the Cardinals. He notched the fourth sack and the third forced fumble of his career in the game.
  • Senior co-captain and safety Andrew Kukesh ranks second in the NESCAC with 10.5 tackles per game. He posted nine tackles at Wesleyan, and on the season he has 42 stops (28 solo).
  • The Bobcats completed nine passes against Wesleyan on 13 attempts after completing 11 passes in the team's first three games. Junior QB Matt Cannone went 7 for 9 for 72 yards while first-year Nick LaSpada connected on 2 of 4 passes for 21 yards. Cannone also scored his second rushing touchdown of the season in the game.
  • Against the Cardinals, sophomore Mark Riley made his first career reception, hauling in a 20-yard pass from Cannone on the Bobcats' first quarter scoring drive.

Bates Last Saturday

The injury-plagued Bates football team struck the first blow against Wesleyan, but the Cardinals reeled off 35 unanswered points in response for a 35-7 win on Oct. 12 in Middletown, Conn., staying unbeaten at 4-0.

Wesleyan, ranked second in Division III for scoring defense, entered the game allowing just 15 total points through its first three contests.  Bates got on the board at 3:45 of the first period for a 7-0 lead, but the Cardinals played shutout ball the rest of the way, as the Bobcats got into the red zone just one more time, resulting in a missed 34-yard field goal.

Wesleyan rolled up 440 yards of total offense to 218 by Bates. Leading the Cardinals' ground game was junior Kyle Gibson with 132 yards on 16 carries, including a 39-yard TD scamper up the left side at 2:29 of the second quarter, which spotted Wesleyan a 21-7 halftime lead. Earlier in the period, junior LaDarius Drew (13-54) burst in from two yards out at 10:57, capping an eight-play, 74-yard march to tie the count at 7-7.

Bates, which came into the game leading the NESCAC and ranked ninth nationally in Division III for rushing offense, averaging 280.3 yards a game, was held to 125 yards on the ground from its 48 attempts. Senior Ryan Curit led the Bobcats with 59 yards on 16 attempts.  

Bates moved the ball 80 yards on 14 plays during its scoring drive, with junior QB Matt Cannone doing the honors from three yards out as the Bobcats rushed the ball 13 times for 60 yards, nearly half its net rushing yards for the game. The Bobcats completed almost as many passes in this game as it had in the previous three contests (11), going 9-for-13, led by Cannone's 7-for-9 effort, good for 72 yards. First-year Nick LaSpada completed 2-of-4 passes for 21 yards, and also rushed for 18 yards on six carries. Sophomore wide receiver Mark Riley made his first career catch, good for 20 yards.

Middlebury Last Saturday 

Joey Zelkowitz scored on an eight-yard run with 4:03 remaining, giving Middlebury a 21-14 victory over Williams on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium on Oct. 12. The Panthers have now won 12 of their last 14 games and six straight at home. The Ephs have opened at 0-4 for the first time in 65 years (1947).

With the game tied at 14-14, the Panthers took over at their own 20 with 6:57 remaining. Matt Rea gained 25 yards up the middle on a third-and-two play to get into Williams territory. The Panthers continued to move the ball, with Zelkowitz reaching the eight on a seven yard rush up the middle. The following play, he carried the ball straight up the middle once again, scoring from eight yards out to put his team on top, 21-14.

Middlebury QB McCallum Foote finished the day 20 of 37 for 247 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. Zelkowitz accounted for 104 total yards, with six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. William Sadik-Kahn caught six passes for 66 yards, Trevor Wheeler caught the first four balls of his career for 69 yards with a score, while Rea gained 68 yards on the ground. Will Bain led all tacklers with 16 on the afternoon, Tim Patricia added 10, while Matt Crimmins had seven with 1.5 sacks and a pair of key pass break-ups.

QB Adam Marske completed 28 of 48 passes for 276 yards with one touchdown for Williams. Alex Scyocurka gained 62 yards on the ground, while Greg Payton caught a game-high nine passes for 89 yards. James Howe finished with eight tackles and 2.5 tackles for lost yardage, while James O'Grady had seven.

Williams held a 35:14 to 24:46 time of possession advantage in the game, holding a 401-358 edge in total yards.

Last Year's Meeting

Middlebury College improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1992 with a 38-23 win over the Bates College football team on Oct. 12 ,2012, at Alumni Stadium in Middlebury, Vt.

Middlebury wide receiver Zach Driscoll finished the game with 15 catches for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns, becoming the school's all-time receptions leader in the game with 143.

Panther QB McCallum Foote finished the day 36 of 50 for 436 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He now has 21 touchdown passes through five games, one shy of the school's single-season record. Driscoll's big day left him just 70 yards shy of the school's all-time receiving yardage record. Billy Chapman finished the contest with eight catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns, while Brendan Rankowitz and Remi Ashkar each caught four balls. Ashkar kept the offense balanced with 106 yards on the ground on eight carries. John Wiet and Matthew Benedict each had 15 tackles to lead the defense.

Trevor Smith went 16 of 32 for Bates, throwing for 151 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception. Shawn Doherty caught five passes for 50 yards with a pair of touchdowns, while slotback Mac Jackson caught four passes for 28 yards. Patrick George rushed for 82 yards on 17 carries, while Smith had 15 carries for 81 yards. Andrew Kukesh and Joe Dell'Erario each had 13 tackles in the game, followed by 12 from John Durkin.

The teams combined to run 169 plays in the game, with the Panthers earning 568 yards on 89 snaps and Bates gaining 370 yards on 80 plays.