Football Preview: Bobcats can pull even with win at Hamilton

Quarterback Matt Cannone completed 10 of 12 passes with one touchdown and ran for 72 yards in Bates' 17-10 win over Bowdoin. File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

Bates College football closes its 2013 season at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., on Saturday with a chance to finish 4-4 and to record back-to-back seasons at .500 or better for the first time since 1981-82. 

The Particulars

What: Bates College (3-4) at Hamilton College (0-7)

When: Saturday, Nov. 9, Noon

Where: Steuben Field | Clinton, N.Y.

Live Stats: Hamilton Portal | Video: Hamilton Webcast

Twitter: @BatesSports | Facebook: Bates College Athletics

All-Time Series: Hamilton leads 18-17

Last Meeting: Bates 47, Hamilton 33 (Lewiston, Maine | Nov. 10, 2012) 

Bates Facts & Figures 

  • Senior safety Andrew Kukesh led the Bobcats with nine tackles (seven solo) and snagged his 15th career interception against Bowdoin. On the season, Kukesh leads Bates with a career-high 70 tackles (53 solo). He is tied for fourth in the NESCAC with 10.0 tackles per game and has made at least eight tackles in each game this year.
  • Junior defensive back Ryan Newson picked off a Mac Caputi pass inside of the last minute to seal Bates' win over the Polar Bears. The play marked Newson's second interception of the season and of his career.
  • Against Bowdoin, junior linebacker Josh Freedland registered a sack to end a Polar Bear drive in the third quarter, giving him a team-leading three sacks on the season. He is fifth in the NESCAC in sacks per game (0.6).
  • Junior quarterback Matt Cannone completed 10 of 12 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown to go with 72 rushing yards on 17 carries versus the Polar Bears. Cannone connected with senior Kevin Davis on a 36-yard pass play in the first quarter for his first career passing touchdown.
  • On the play, Davis hauled in his first receiving touchdown of the season as part of a season-best 75 receiving yards on five catches. He has totaled five receiving touchdown in his career.
  • In his final home game, senior running back Ryan Curit rushed for a team-high 74 yards on 18 carries against Bowdoin. He ranks fifth in the NESCAC with 74.2 rushing yards per game.
  • Senior slotback Shawn Doherty registered a game-high 137 all-purpose yards last Saturday on 80 kick return yards, 38 receiving yards, and 19 rushing yards. He leads the NESCAC with 148.3 all-purpose yards per game.
  • Last Saturday, first-year quarterback Nick LaSpada completed 4 of 6 passes for 36 yards and rushed seven times for 41 yards and a score – the first rushing touchdown of his career.
  • Senior kicker Charlie Donahue made a career-long 38-yard field goal to give Bates a 10-0 lead over Bowdoin in the first quarter.
  • As a team, Bates ranks second in the NESCAC in rushing offense with 221.9 rushing yards per game. The Bobcats ran for 240 yards against Bowdoin, marking the fifth time this season they have rushed for 230 or more yards in a game.

Bates Last Saturday

A virtually mistake-free performance by the Bates College football team led to a 17-10 win over rival Bowdoin College on Homecoming Saturday at Garcelon Field in Lewiston, the Bobcats' fourth win against the Polar Bears in their past five meetings and their third in a row.

Bates won the turnover battle, 3-0, and held onto the ball for more than 34 minutes of the game clock. The Bobcats achieved a 21-13 advantage in first downs, with 17 of them coming via the rush; Bates also had a 378-285 edge in total offense.

Bates junior quarterback Matt Cannone completed 10 of 12 passes for 102 yards, including a picture-perfect 36-yard touchdown bomb down the right sideline to senior wide receiver Kevin Davis, which led off the scoring in the first quarter. Cannone also rushed 17 times for 72 yards, second on the team to senior Ryan Curit's 18-carry, 74-yard effort. First-year quarterback Nick LaSpada completed 4-of-6 pass attempts for 36 yards and also rushed seven times for 41 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Davis finished the game with a season-best five catches for 75 yards and the touchdown. Senior slotback Shawn Doherty, who entered the game as the NESCAC leader in all-purpose yards, had a game-high 137 all-purpose yards, 80 of them coming on four kickoff returns.

Bates senior safety Andrew Kukesh led the Bobcats with nine tackles (7 solo) in addition to an interception. Junior Gilbert Brown and first-year Mark Upton were credited with six tackles apiece. Senior defensive tackle Matt Comstock made five tackles, and junior linebacker Josh Freedland sacked Mac Caputi for an eight-yard loss, his team-best third sack of the season.

The Polar Bears' last-chance possession started with 59 seconds left on its own 21-yard line. Bowdoin quickly moved 17 yards on two plays, but from their own 38, Caputi's throw to the sideline was intercepted by junior safety Ryan Newson, sealing the win for Bates.

Hamilton Last Saturday

Middlebury's McCallum Foote threw for 332 yards and five touchdowns and the Panthers went on to a 40-13 NESCAC win against Hamilton on Middlebury's Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium on Nov. 2.

The Panthers scored the first 34 points en route to their fourth straight win. Middlebury took less than 2 minutes, 30 seconds to reach the end zone on all of its five scoring drives in the first half. Hamilton was held to 13 first downs and 237 yards of offense.

The game also marked the 34th meeting of the "Old Rocking Chair Classic" with Middlebury retaining the chair for the 18th straight year. The Panthers have won 26 of the 34 games in the history of the Classic.

Foote completed 25 of 29 passes and didn't throw an interception. William Sadik-Khan was his favorite target with eight catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns. Tim Patricia led the defense with 12 tackles, including a sack, and an interception. Matthew Benedict added 11 stops and Jake Clapp recorded a pair of sacks and forced a fumble.

James Stanell rushed for a season-high 142 yards and a touchdown for Hamilton. Stanell moved into fourth place on the program's all-time list with 1,986 career rushing yards. Chase Rosenberg was 13 of 21 passing for 102 yards with two interceptions.

On defense, Andrew Austin was credited with a team-high seven stops, including 1.5 tackles for loss. John Phelan made six solo tackles, and Darren Fuller and Charlie Bueneman shared a sack. The Continentals also blocked two extra-point tries.

Last Year's Meeting

The Bates football team put a final, thrilling stamp on the 2012 season, defeating Hamilton 47-33 at Garcelon Field in Lewiston on Nov. 10 to finish 5-3, the Bobcats' first winning year since going 6-2 in 1981. Bates scored its most points since a 48-28 win over Bowdoin in 2002.

The Bobcats finished the season on a three-game win streak, and with a 3-1 record at home.
Although he was so hoarse that he could hardly be heard amidst the postgame revelry on the field, Bates head coach Mark Harriman exuded a weary contentment after the game. "I'm just so proud of what these guys have done -- what they've been able to accomplish despite a lot of adversity this year," Harriman said.

Though it led only once in the game, after a first-quarter touchdown, Hamilton (1-7) didn't go down without a fight. The Continentals scored three touchdowns in a wild fourth quarter, finishing the game with 491 yards of offense to Bates' 436. Bates countered with two touchdowns of its own in the final period, including linebacker Gilbert Brown's 101-yard interception return.

Team captain Patrick George ran for a career-high 144 yards on 15 carries in his final game for the Bobcats, leading a ground attack that piled up 358 yards on 50 attempts, Bates' most rushing yards in a game in more than a decade. "It all started with the guys up front, just like it has all year," said George, referring to Bates' excellent offensive line: left tackle Ryan Weston, left guard Mark Sylvester, center Larry Guinee, right guard Michael Bernstein and right tackle Liam O'Neil

It was the Bobcats' fourth time this season with 288 or more rushing yards. Bates finished the year with a program-record 1,868 rushing yards, exceeding the former mark of 1,852 set in 1985.

Bates quarterback Trevor Smith completed 7 of 13 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, and also carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards and his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. Slotback Shawn Doherty, meanwhile, found the end zone twice, finishing the year with seven touchdowns in all. Doherty scored from 42 yards out on a reception from Smith late in the second quarter and then ran for a 27-yard score in the fourth quarter.