MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- The Bates football team rallied from 22 points down but fell one point short in a 35-34 loss at Middlebury Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore quarterback Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) ran for a season-high 111 yards and threw for a season-high 177 yards, recording a career-high three passing touchdowns along the way.
The Bates offense recorded a season-high 354 total yards and the Bobcats' 34 points are the most they've scored in one game since 2014.
Middlebury (4-2) took a 7-0 lead at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter when Will Jernigan found Maxwell Rye in the end zone for a seven-yard scoring strike.
Bates (0-6) answered with an eight-play, 75-yard drive ending in a five-yard rush from sophomore Jaason Lopez (Marblehead, Mass.) seconds into the second quarter. The extra point was blocked, leaving Middlebury with a 7-6 lead.
The Panthers increased their lead 4:55 into the second quarter on a 92-yard touchdown pass from Jernigan to Rye. Rye caught the ball at his own 45, before breaking away from a defender and racing 55 yards to the end zone.
After a defensive hold, Middlebury added to its lead when Jernigan found Conrado Banky wide open in the end zone on a 17-yard pass. The Panther lead now stood at 21-6 with 6:05 remaining in the second quarter.
Bates fumbled on its next play from scrimmage, leaving Middlebury the ball on the 11-yard line. The Panthers capitalized three plays later when Drew Jacobs extended his arm forward for a three-yard rushing touchdown at the 4:42 mark.
Down 28-6, Bates refused to back down.
The Bobcats responded quickly with a one-yard touchdown run from sophomore Christian Sanfilippo (Gloucester, Mass.) after a big 44-yard rush by Costa on the ensuing drive. The score cut the Panther lead to 28-13 at the break.
Bates took advantage of a Middlebury turnover early in the fourth quarter when Costa found first-year Jackson Hayes (San Marino, Calif.) wide open down the middle for a 49-yard touchdown pass. The drive was set up by an interception by senior captain Joe Frake (Windham, N.H.) at the Middlebury 49-yard line.
Middlebury answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped by a seven-yard rush up the middle by Jacobs into the end zone. The Panthers now held a 35-20 advantage with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter.
Bates answered with a 75-yard drive of its own, as Costa found senior Marcus Ross (Mansfield, Texas) from 17 yards out, making it a 35-27 contest late in the third quarter. Ross made a spectacular catch in traffic for his first touchdown of the season and the fifth of his career.
The Bobcats scored on their third-straight possession when Costa found Sanfilippo for a five-yard score midway through the fourth quarter. Sanfilippo has scored in four straight games and has five total touchdowns on the season. Bates elected to kick the extra point and found themselves trailing 35-34 with 8:20 remaining.
The teams punted on each of the next five possessions, with Bates having one last chance when it took over on its own 20 with 2:20 remaining. The Bobcats moved to their own 41-yard line, before Clay Hunt picked off a pass near midfield and sealed the Panther victory.
Jernigan finished the day 17-26 for 266 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception, while rushing for 47 yards on 20 carries. Cosolito caught six passes for 60 yards, while Rye finished with three receptions for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Banky made three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Hunt paced the Panther defense with nine tackles, 1.5 for lost yardage and an interception, while Charles Roselle and Jonathan Hobart each made seven stops.
Hayes caught three passes for 63 yards and a touchdown, while Lopez gained 53 yards on 19 carries. Sophomore David Campbell (Marblehead, Mass.) made nine tackles to lead the Bates defense, while junior Jon Lindgren (Plainville, Conn.) and senior Chase Fulton (Benecia, Calif.) each had eight, with Fulton recording a sack. Senior Walter Washington (Rockland, N.Y.) and sophomore Liam Greene (Bedford, N.H.) sacked the quarterback once apiece. Washington finished with seven tackles and senior captain Tyler Harrington (Haverhill, Mass.) made seven stops, 2.5 of them for loss. He also blocked a field goal and broke up a pass.
The Bobcats open the CBB series with a 1pm home game next Saturday against Colby.