Football leads at the half, falls at Tufts

First-year linebacker Michael Bulman made 10 tackles, including 1 1/2 for a loss, in Bates' 47-14 loss at Tufts on Sept. 29, 2018. (File photo by Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

SOMERVILLE, Mass. -- The Bates football team surprised Tufts' homecoming crowd by taking a 14-10 halftime lead, but the host Jumbos rolled over the Bobcats with 37 unanswered points in the second half for a 47-14 victory Saturday.

Tufts quarterback Ryan McDonald led the Jumbos past the Bobcats for the second year in a row, throwing for 207 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 161 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, as Tufts outgained 545 yards to 198.

Bates' defense played a strong first half but could not sustain the effort, while the offense struggled for all but two consecutive scoring drives in the second quarter.

Bates sophomore quarterback Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) completed 16-of-30 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown, and led the Bobcats in rushing with 30 yards on 19 carries. Junior receiver Kody Greenhalgh (Warwick, R.I.) caught six passes for 77 yards, including a spectacular touchdown grab, while first-year Jackson Hayes (San Marino, Calif.) caught three passes for 47 yards.

A pass break-up by sophomore Devin Clyburn (New York, N.Y.) helped Bates force a punt on Tufts' first possession, and the defense stuffed the Jumbos from a 1st and goal from the 6-yard line situation on their following drive, holding them to a 25-yard field goal.

McDonald scrambled out of being thrown for a loss to pick up a 40-yard gain to set up Mike Pedrini's 9-yard touchdown run through a big hole in the line two plays later for a 10-0 Tufts lead with 1:21 left in the first quarter.

Bates was stopped for three-and-outs on its next three possessions while the defense held the Jumbos in check, and with 5:35 left in the second quarter a sack by senior Walter Washington (Rockland, N.Y.) on 4th and 9 returned the ball to the Bates offense at their own 30. Brendan Costa rushed for 15 yards to start the drive, then hit Hayes for back-to-back gains of 33 and nine yards, bringing Bates to the Tufts 23. Now in rhythm, Costa found Greenhalgh open for nine more yards on a slant route. Costa then handed off to sophomore Christian Sanfilippo (Gloucester, Mass.), who bounced between senior linemen Yanni Falaras (North Andover, Mass.) and Dan Marino (Marblehead, Mass.) for a 5-yard touchdown run, closing the gap to 10-7 with 3:19 left in the half.

Backup quarterback Ryan Hagfeldt replaced McDonald on Tufts' next drive, and with the Jumbos at midfield, Bates sophomore safety Anthony Costa (West Springfield, Mass.) broke in front of the intended receiver and picked off Hagfeldt's pass over the middle at the Bates 35, returning the ball 34 yards to the Tufts 31.

Bates quickly faced a 3rd and 8 at the Tufts 29. On play-action, Brendan Costa dropped back and lofted over the middle to the back of the end zone, where Greenhalgh fought off his defender before making an all-out dive to catch the ball as he fell out of the back of the end zone. After a dramatic second or two, the touchdown was signalled, and senior Justin Foley's (Lynnfield, Mass.) extra point gave the Bobcats a 14-10 lead with 1:28 to go in the half. Despite a 14-6 disadvantage in first downs at intermission, Bates surprised Tufts' homecoming crowd by owning the halftime lead. Tufts outgained Bates 221-148 in total offense in the half.

But second half was all Tufts, as the hosts outscored Bates 30-0 while outgaining the visitors 324-50. The Jumbos drove 59 yards for a 34-yard field goal by Matt Alswanger on their opening drive of the half, then added touchdowns on their next four drives while taking the ball over near midfield on the last three of those possessions.

McDonald took Tufts' offense into his own hands on the Jumbos' go-ahead scoring drive early in the third quarter, picking up 28 yards on a pair of completions then rushing for 31 yards on three keepers, including an 18-yard rumble up the middle for the touchdown. A missed extra point held the lead to 19-14.

A holding penalty against Bates acted to stall their next possession, giving Tufts the ball back at their 48-yard line. The Jumbos marched 36 yards on five plays, before Tufts receiver Frank Roche laid out for a diving 16-yard touchdown catch from McDonald in the right corner of the end zone to put the Jumbos ahead 26-14 with 4:07 left.

Another holding penalty and 6-yard sack by Stephen Timmins stalled Bates' ensuing drive and returned the ball to Tufts at its own 44. The Jumbos moved the ball 55 yards in nine plays before Dom Borelli punched it in from the 1 for a 33-14 lead.

Tufts upped its point total to 40 in improbable fashion, with McDonald throwing long into the end zone for OJ Armstrong. First-year defensive back Tyler Hamilton (White River Junction, Vt.) got his hand on the ball, but it bounced ahead perfectly into Armstrong's hands in the back corner.

Junior linebacker Conner Suraci (North Haven, Conn.) led Bates with a career-high 13 tackles (12 solo). First-year linebacker Michael Bulman (Hanover, Mass.) made a season-best 10 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, and Anthony Costa added eight tackles and his second interception in as many weeks.

Bates returns home to host Williams for Back to Bates Weekend next Saturday, Oct. 6 at 1pm.