LEWISTON, Maine -- Coming to Garcelon Field as heavy favorites after a big win over Trinity last week, Williams College was tested for three quarters by the Bates College football team before prevailing by a 31-7 score Saturday.
Bates (0-4) trailed 17-7 but had the ball on the Williams 1-yard line late in the third quarter. The Ephs ended Bates' 17-play, 74-yard drive by stuffing first-year Christian Sanfilippo's (Gloucester, Mass.) fourth-down run from the 1, then received a pair of breakaway touchdown runs by TJ Dozier in the fourth quarter to pull away from the host Bobcats.
Dozier had touchdown runs of 35 and 75 yards in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 151 yards on 12 carries.
Bates possessed the ball for over 36 minutes of the game clock, a season-high, gained a season-best 259 yards of offense, and totaled 19 first downs to Williams' 15.
The game began disastrously for the hosts, as the ball was fumbled away on the Bobcats' first play from scrimmage and recovered by the Ephs. Williams took over at the Bates 12 and got a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Maimaron to Ryan Kingman in the flat on their first offensive play.
The Ephs (4-0) appeared to be on their way to a blowout, as they tacked on a touchdown and a field goal for a 17-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
But Bates' defense rallied and forced Williams to punt on six straight possessions through three quarters.
Bates sophomore Liam Spillane (Byfield, Mass.) blocked Jake Mohan's punt late in the second quarter and Sanfilippo recovered at the Williams 32 with 1:17 left. Williams committed pass interference on an option pass thrown by first-year wide receiver Jackson Hayes (San Marino, Calif.), bringing the Bobcats to the Williams 15. Sophomore quarterback Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) ran it the to 7, and Sanfilippo was given three straight carries to eventually punch it in from the 1. Senior Justin Foley's (Lynnfield, Mass.) extra point closed the gap to 17-7 with 22 seconds left in the half.
Bates' defense held Williams to two short drives to start the third quarter, and Bates took over at its own 25 with 9:33 to go in the period. The Bobcats embarked on their lengthiest drive of the season, taking 17 plays to advance 74 yards. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on the Ephs in their end zone after a pass to Bates first-year tight end Erik Stephens (Dover, N.H.) was broken up gave Bates 1st and goal at the 8. Sanfilippo received three handoffs to advance to the 1, and on 4th and goal he was stopped at the line of scrimmage with a hard hit from Desmond Butler, ending the threat and returning the ball to Williams.
With 10:26 left in the fourth quarter, and Williams facing a 3rd and 3 at the Bates 35, Dozier found an open lane up the right sideline and into the end zone to make it a three-possession game at 24-7.
Williams' defense held Bates to a three-and-out and took over again at their own 21. On 3rd and 6 from the 25, Dozier burst up the middle and into open space, outsprinting three Bates defenders on the way to a 75-yard touchdown run that sealed the win for the Ephs.
Brendan Costa rushed 10 times for 59 yards, and he completed 12 of 29 passes for 99 yards and two interceptions, both of which were unlucky. In the first quarter, his pass was tipped by a lineman into the hands of Austin Thomas near midfield, leading to Andrew Schreibstein's 31-yard field goal five plays later.
Early in the second quarter, Costa threw a bomb from the Williams 33 toward the end zone. Bates junior receiver Kody Greenhalgh (Warwick, R.I.) beat two defenders to leap and come down with the ball inside the Williams 5-yard line, but Luke Apuzzi reached in and ripped the ball out of Greenhalgh's clutches, then returned the ball 32 yards before he was tackled. A personal foul on the play gave Williams the ball at their own 44-yard line, in perhaps the biggest swing play of the game.
Maimaron completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed 11 times for 41 yards. Frank Stola led all receivers with five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Williams' Jarrett Wesner amassed a game-high 14 tackles (11 solo), and TJ Rothmann added 11 tackles (6 solo).
Bates junior Jon Lindgren (Plainville, Conn.) led Bates with seven tackles (six solo), including two tackles for loss.
Spillane rushed 24 times for 72 yards, both career-high totals, in addition to his blocked punt.
Bates will host Wesleyan University next Saturday at 1pm.