BRUNSWICK, Maine -- The Bobcats struck first but the Bowdoin College Polar Bears scored 24 unanswered points over the span of two quarters to take command of the game, defeating the Bates football team 31-14 Saturday night.
Nate Richam rushed 32 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Polar Bears (1-7) to their first win over the Bobcats (0-8) since 2010. Bo Millett added six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Senior captain Kyle Flaherty (Litchfield, Maine) was a workhorse for Bates, carrying the ball 15 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Liam Spillane (Byfield, Mass.) carried the ball 19 times for a team-high 57 yards, with a long run of 19 yards. First-year Jackson Hayes (San Marino, Calif.) caught a pair of passes for 25 yards.
Without sophomore quarterback Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.), who missed the game due to an injury, Bates struggled on offense. The Bobcats got outgained by Bowdoin by a count of 252-167 on the evening.
The game started on a good note for Bates. Sophomore Devin Clyburn (New York, N.Y.) picked off Bowdoin quarterback Austin McCrum and returned the ball 22 yards to the Polar Bear 27. But the Bobcats could not convert a first down and went four-and-out.
Bates forced another turnover with 5:06 left in the opening quarter when sophomore Anthony Costa (West Springfield, Mass.) picked off a pass of his own at the Bates 43.
But the Bobcats went three-and-out and neither team ended up scoring in the first quarter.
Bates got on the board first on its opening drive of the second quarter. Starting at their own 26, the Bobcats marched 74 yards on 14 plays. Facing third and five at his own 31, first-year quarterback Jack Bryant (Falmouth, Maine) connected with senior Kevin Claflin (Ashland, Mass.) for a gain of eight yards and a Bates first down. Then on second and nine, Bryant took the ball and ran 11 yards to the Bowdoin 49. On the next play, Spillane ripped off a run of 19 yards to the Bowdoin 30.
On third and six at the Polar Bear 26, Bryant found first-year Caleb Bolden (Dover, N.H.) for seven yards and another first down. Bates continued to impress on third down when the Bobcats converted a 3rd and 12 thanks to a Bryant pass to Hayes for 17 yards down to the Bowdoin four-yard line.
On second and goal, Flaherty punched it in from four yards out to put the Bobcats up 7-0 with 8:33 left in the second quarter after senior Justin Foley (Lynnfield, Mass.) made the extra point.
The Polar Bears tied things up later in the quarter thanks to a 12-play, 68-yard drive that culminated with a five-yard touchdown run from Richam.
The score stood tied 7-7 at halftime but the Polar Bears took command in the third quarter.
It started with Joe Gowetsk intercepting a Bryant pass on the Bobcats' opening drive of the half. The Polar Bears converted the turnover into three points when Michael Chen made a 31-yard field goal to put Bowdoin up 10-7.
The Bobcats went three-and-out on their next drive and Bowdoin took over at its own 31 after a Foley punt. Bowdoin proceeded to go on a nine play, 69-yard drive that ended with a Richam touchdown run of seven yards to extend the Polar Bear lead to 17-7 with 7:10 remaining in the third.
Already up 10, the Polar Bears got a huge play from Franny Rose on the Bobcats' next drive. Rose sacked Bryant on third down, forcing a fumble. He fell on the fumble to give Bowdoin outstanding field position at the Bates 16-yard line.
After a five-yard penalty backed the Polar Bears up a little, McCrum unleashed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Millett, putting Bowdoin up 24-7 after the extra point.
Bates cut the Bowdoin lead to 10 on its next drive, a 13-play, 74-yard effort. The Bobcats mostly used the ground game to march down the field, but Bryant did find junior Matt Golden (New Bedford, Mass.) for eight yards on the drive to get the ball to the Bowdoin 45. Flaherty got all the carries after the completion to Golden and a key roughing the passer call against the Polar Bears later in the drive gave Bates a first down at the Bowdoin 12. Flaherty eventually punched it in from one yard out and Foley made the extra point to make the score 24-14 with 1:26 left in the third quarter.
But the Polar Bears had the answer, marching 81 yards on 11 plays on their next drive to extend the lead back to 17 points. McCrum ran it in from 11 yards out to make the score 31-14 and that's how the game ended, with the Bobcats recording just one first down on their final two drives.
McCrum completed 10 of 16 passes for 93 yards on the evening. Bryant completed seven of 15 passes for 57 yards.
The Bobcats are back in action next Saturday for Senior Day at Garcelon Field. Bates takes on Hamilton starting at noon.