Football comes back to beat Colby in overtime, 34-28

LEWISTON, Maine -- Freshman Frank Williams helped tie the game with 33 seconds left in regulation on a 3-yard touchdown catch from Matt Cannone, then scored the game-ending touchdown with a 25-yard reception in the first overtime period, as the Bates football team defeated Colby 34-28 in a wild game before a Homecoming crowd Saturday at Garcelon Field.

Bates (2-4) held Colby (1-5) without a gain on three downs to begin overtime, and the Mules then missed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right, keeping the score at 28-28. Bates took over at the Colby 25 and on 2nd-and-10, Cannone hit a wide-open Williams over the middle inside the 5, and the freshman slotback trotted into the end zone to end the game, sending the crowd into hysteria.

"[Bates junior] Mark Riley is definitely one of the best receivers in the league, so the team definitely has to respect him," Cannone explained about the winning play. "I looked right at Riley and tried to move the safety over there, and Frankie is so quick that he snuck right by him. He was wide open for the touchdown, and we're halfway to the CBB now."

It was the first overtime game for Bates since the 2006 Bates-Colby game in Lewiston, when the Mules prevailed 10-7 in four overtime periods.

Cannone (Windham, N.H.) completed 18 of 32 passes for career-highs of 203 yards and four touchdowns for the Bobcats.

Colby quarterback Gabe Harrington also threw four touchdown passes, two each to Ryder Arsenault and Nick Joseph. Both scoring connections with Joseph went for over 50 yards. Harrington completed 13 of 38 passes for 234 yards and was under heavy pressure for much of the second half, throwing while hurried on 11 occasions in the game and getting sacked twice.

The Bobcats (2-4) now sit in the driver's seat in the annual Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) series. Bates can clinch the CBB title outright with a win at Bowdoin next Saturday. Colby (1-5) and Bowdoin meet in the season finale on Nov. 8.

Bates overcame Colby leads of 14-0 in the first quarter and 21-7 in the third quarter in the win.

"The biggest thing was what all our guys did hanging in through the adversity," said head coach Mark Harriman. "There was a lot of adversity in the game, and they were able to hang tough and make some plays when they needed to."

The two touchdown catches were the only receptions in the game for Williams (Brookline, Mass.), who also rushed for 22 yards on four attempts.

Bates outgained Colby by a modest 366-339 margin in offensive yardage, including a 163-105 advantage in rushing yards. 

Colby held the ball for nearly five minutes more than Bates in the first half and accumulated five more first downs in the opening 30 minutes. But the Bobcats found an offensive groove in the second half, rushing for 135 yards, possessing the ball for over 19 of the 30 minutes and gaining 14 first downs to nine for Colby.

Colby jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Mules drove 79 yards on 10 plays on their second series of the game, highlighted by an 11-yard connection from Harrington to Arsenault on 3rd and 8, then a 23-yard touchdown pass to Harrington in the front left corner of the end zone on 3rd and 5.

Bates punted the ball away and the Mules started their next series at their own 13. Four straight rushing plays took the Mules out to their 27, where on second down, Harrington threw down the right sideline and over two Batse defensive backs to Joseph, who pivoted and had nothing but open field ahead of him, for a 59-yard touchdown play.

But Bates got right back into the game before the first quarter was over. Cannone hit junior Mark Riley (Needham, Mass.) for 11 yards, and at the end of a Cannone outside rush, a personal foul penalty on the Mules took the Bobcats to the Colby 28. With sophomore backup quarterback Mike Decina (Hopkinton, Mass.) taking the next snap, an offsides penalty by Colby advanced the ball to the 22. From there, Cannone re-entered the game to find a wide-open Riley over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown. First-year Grant DeWald's (Duxbury, Mass.) point-after kick was good, closing the gap to 14-7.

Colby opened the second quarter at its own 25 and moved up to the 37 before Harrington, while getting hit by Bates senior tackle Joe DiPalma (Salem, N.H.), let go a desperate pass that was picked off by Bates senior linebacker Josh Freedland (Marblehead, Mass.) and returned 25 yards to the Colby 20. Cannone connected for 15 yards to Riley to the Colby 10 to keep the drive alive, and on second and goal at the 15, sophomore slotback Tyler Janssen (Glastonbury, Conn.) threw an option pass incomplete to Riley in the end zone, but Colby was flagged for pass interference, giving Bates 1st and goal at the 2. Cannone was stuffed at the 1 on the next play, and on another QB keeper he fumbled the ball into the end zone, where Jason Buco fell on the ball for a toucback, preserving the Colby lead. The rest of the quarter went scoreless, keeping the score at 14-7 for the Mules.

Midway through the third quarter, Colby punter and kicker Louw Scheepers sent a 55-yard punt. Bates senior Gilbert Brown (Gloucester, Mass.) caught the ball off the bounce and weaved upfield for an apparent 79-yard touchdown return, but the Bobcats were flagged for a block in the back, forcing them to take over at the Bates 37 instead. After a three-and-out for the Bobcats, Colby took over at its own 25, then used a pair of Bates penalties to move up to midfield. On 1st and 10 at the Colby 49, Harrington lofted a pass down the left sideline to Joseph, who appeared to have possibly run out of bounds while making contact with Bates senior cornerback Mike Kelleher (Saugus, Mass.). With separation from Kelleher, Joseph turned and caught the ball near the sideline around the 20-yard line, and was able to streak into the end zone from there for a 51-yard touchdown play. Scheepers' point-after restored a 14-point advantage for Colby, at 21-7, with 5:18 left in the third quarter.

Bates took over and began piecing together a 9-play, 69-yard scoring drive, alternating between slotbacks Williams and sophomore Ryan Spillane (Medfield, Mass.). A 10-yard rush by Spillane took Bates to the Colby 14, where on 2nd and 1 Cannone found junior Shaun Carroll (Clinton, Maine) open over the middle in the end zone for an easy touchdown, closing the gap to 21-14 before the end of the quarter.

Bates forced Colby into a three-and-out, and its offense picked up where it left off, but featuring different backs. Freshman Mickoy Nichol (Dennis Port, Mass.) picked up four yards, then sophomore Ivan Reese (Savannah, Ga.) struck for gains of nine and seven yards to finish out the quarter. Reese picked up four more to start the fourth quarter, and then Janssen got the next handoff on a sweep to the left, with Reese as the lead blocker. With one cut back to the inside, Janssen was off to the races for a 35-yard touchdown run, and the Bobcats had the game tied at 21-21 with 14:35 left in regulation. Janssen used an impenetrable wall by the offensive line, and a key upfield block by senior wide receiver Mike Tomaino (Gloucester, Mass.) on two Colby players. Janssen ran over Colby's Jason Buco over the last five yards for the TD.

The celebrating didn't last long for Bates, however, because Colby came right back behind Harrington. The sophomore signal-caller hit Mbasas Mayikana for gains of 29 and eight yards to move into Bates territory, and then he scrambled for 14 more yards into the red zone. From the 13 he then hit Arsenault for the go-ahead touchdown.

Colby's defense forced a Bates three-and-out, and a 10-yard rush by Jabari Hurdle-Price took the Mules back into Bates territory. But on 3rd and 10, Harrington was sacked and fumbled 11 yards behind the line by sophomores Ben Coulibaly (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Mark Upton (Winthrop, Mass.). The Mules recovered the ball but had to punt the ball away.

Colby returned the favor on Bates' next series, as Cannone was sacked for a loss of nine by CT Harris near midfield. With time running out on the Bobcats, Bates punted the ball away with 3:04 left in regulation, and the Mules took over at their 17.

Hurdle-Price carried the ball on the next three plays, and on 3rd and 6 from the Colby 21 he fumbled the ball away. Bates senior Adam Cuomo (Plymouth, Mass.) recovered at the Colby 18 with 2:06 left in the game, breathing new life into Bates' hopes.

Four different backs got the next four handoffs from Cannone. Williams went for eight to the Colby 10, but Spillane was stuffed by Ryan Ruiz for no gain. 

On 3rd and 2, Carroll got the ball on a sweep to the left and leaped high over a Colby defender in the backfield on a five-yard gain to convert a huge first down for the Bobcats, who suddenly had a 1st and goal at the 5. Reese went for two yards before two straight incompletions from Cannone to Riley made it 4th and goal at the 3.

With less than 40 seconds left in regulation and no choice but to go for it on fourth down, Cannone dropped back and fired to an uncovered Williams on the right side of the end zone. DeWald made the all-important extra point to tie the game at 28-28 with just 32.4 seconds remaining in the game. DeWald sent the subsequent kickoff into the end zone for a touchback, and Colby ran one play before letting the game clock expire and send the game into overtime.

Colby took over to start extra time at the Bates 25 and Harrington threw three incompletions, forcing the 42-yard field goal attempt by Scheepers that sailed to the right of the uprights. Bates took over and first tried a screen pass from Cannone to Nichol that went for no gain before the game-ending touchdown from Cannone to Williams.

With the 116th meeting between the two rivals now in the books, Bates closed the gap in the all-time series to 66 wins for Colby, 44 for Bates, and six ties.

Riley finished the game with five receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown, all in the first half. Reese rushed for a team-high 48 yards on 14 carries. Upton led the Bates defense with 11 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, along with a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.

Hurdle-Price rushed for a game-high 54 yards on 13 carries. Mayikana and Arsenault had five catches apiece, while Joseph had two receptions, both touchdowns, for 110 yards. Harris and Tony Atkinson had 10 tackles apiece for the Mules, with Harris making three tackles for lost yardage including a sack. Luke Duncklee broke up four passes and made seven tackles. Henry Nelson and two-way player Joseph also had seven tackles apiece.