LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates football team held the lead at halftime but the Hamilton Continentals scored 26 unanswered points in the second half to spoil the Bobcats' senior day by a score of 38-13 Saturday afternoon.
The game turned with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter. With Bates leading 13-12, Dana Marrocco blocked a Bobcat punt and Jared Schwartz returned it 22 yards for a touchdown, putting Hamilton ahead for good. The Continentals held Bates scoreless in the second half, with the Bobcats only converting four first downs.
Joe Park paced the Hamilton offense, carrying the ball 17 times for 187 yards and three touchdowns. Joe Schmidt added seven carries for 73 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Kenny Gray completed 12-19 passes for 69 yards and Christian Donahoe caught four passes for 39 yards.
Senior Kevin Claflin (Ashland, Mass.) made his first career start at quarterback for the Bobcats, completing seven of 22 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Senior captain Kyle Flaherty (Litchfield, Maine) was a workhorse for the Bobcats, carrying the ball 29 times for 86 yards. First-year Jackson Hayes (Litchfield, Maine) caught three passes for a career-high 71 yards and a touchdown.
Bates (0-9) fell behind 5-0 in the first quarter. After the Bobcats punted on their opening drive, the Continentals (3-6) moved the ball deep into Bates territory thanks largely to a Park 42 yard rush to the Bobcat nine yard line. On third and goal from the six, senior Coy Candelario (Haverhill, Mass.) broke up a Gray pass to force Hamilton to kick a field goal. Sam Thoreen hit a 23-yard kick to put the Continentals up 3-0 with 10:47 left in the first quarter.
The Continentals won the field position battle in the opening quarter and it netted them two more points when the Bobcats were forced to start a drive at their own two. On 2nd and 11, Jeremy Barr brought down Claflin in the end zone for a safety.
Bates turned the tables on the Continentals in the second quarter. Junior Jon Lindgren (Plainville, Conn.) sacked Gray on fourth and eight to force a turnover on downs. The Bobcats took over at their own 30 and on third and three Claflin found Hayes for a gain of 24 yards to the Hamilton 39. Claflin came up big again on third and seven, finding junior Kody Greenhalgh (Warwick, R.I.) for a 13-yard completion to the Hamilton 23.
Facing third and six at the Hamilton 19, Claflin used his legs to rush for 14 yards down to the five. Two plays later, Claflin connected with junior Matt Golden (New Bedford, Mass.) on a well-designed roll out to the right side, netting Golden his first career receiving touchdown and Claflin his first career touchdown pass. The Continentals blocked the extra point and Bates led 6-5 with 7:32 remaining in the half.
On Hamilton's next drive, senior Art Churchwell (Newton, Mass.) picked off the first pass of his career, jumping for the interception on a Gray pass at the Bates 34.
Bates couldn't take advantage of the turnover, going three-and-out. Then Park burst through the line on Hamilton's next drive for a 46-yard touchdown, putting Hamilton back on top by a score of 12-6 after the extra point with 3:23 left in the half.
But the Bobcats had an answer thanks to a big play of their own. Starting at their own 33, Flaherty ran the ball five straight times, moving the Bobcats to the Hamilton 41. Then on second and 10, Claflin threw a beautiful ball down the near sideline to Hayes who caught it in stride, scampering into the end zone for a touchdown. Senior Justin Foley (Lynnfield, Mass.) made the extra point and the Bobcats led 13-12 with 1:09 remaining in the second quarter.
After the blocked punt put Hamilton ahead, the Continentals added to their lead when Ian Esliker blocked another Bates punt out-of-bounds at the 10 yard line. On the very next play, Schmidt ran it in to make the score Hamilton 25, Bates 13 with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Park ran the ball 42 yards for a touchdown and capped off the scoring on the next drive with a three-yard plunge after the Continentals picked off a pass at midfield.
Defensively, Carmine Bruno, Alex Ganter and James Ball paced Hamilton with nine tackles each. Sophomore Anthony Costa (West Springfield, Mass.) and Lindgren tallied six tackles each for Bates.
Before the game, Bates honored 18 seniors: Tyler Baum (Bernardsville, N.J.), Candelario, Churchwell, Claflin, Peter Daley (Wilmington, Mass.), Bobby Dee (Plymouth, Mass.), Connor DeSantis (Georgetown, Mass.), Yanni Falaras (North Andover, Mass.), Flaherty, Foley, Joe Frake (Windham, N.H.), Chase Fulton (Benecia, Calif.), Martin Guinee (Peabody, Mass.), Tyler Harrington (Haverhill, Mass.), Calvin Johnstone (Hopkinton, N.H.), Dan Marino (Marblehead, Mass.), Marcus Ross (Mansfield, Texas) and Walter Washington (Rockland, N.Y.).