AMHERST, Mass. – Ollie Eberth threw three touchdown passes in the second half, including two of 40-plus yards to James O'Regan, and Amherst College came from behind to beat the Bates football team 27-13 in the season opener for both teams at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Bobcats (0-1) led 13-6 at halftime but the Mammoths (1-0) held them off the scoreboard in the second half.
O'Regan finished the day with five catches for 114 yards and the two scores, and Luke Mallette caught a touchdown to extend the lead to its final margin as part of a five-catch, 44-yard receiving day.
The Amherst defense forced four turnovers, including one on the opening kickoff when Tristan Andrzejewski pounced on the ball to give Amherst possession at the Bates 21.
That drive ended in a 24-yard Connor Kennelly field goal to put Amherst up 3-0. Kennelly later tied the game with a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter, but the Mammoths could not find the end zone before halftime.
Junior Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) threw for a touchdown in the first quarter for the Bobcats, hitting fellow junior Liam Spillane (Byfield, Mass.) with 7:11 to play in the opening period. Just before halftime, Costa capped off an 11-play, 57 yard drive by darting up the middle from the eight-yard line, and Bates took a seven-point lead into the halftime locker room.
Amherst tied the game on their first possession of the second half. Eberth rushed for 20 yards to the Amherst 45 yard-line, then, two plays later he hit O'Regan, who raced down the field for 45 yards to the end zone. Kennelly's point after attempt tied the game at 13.
The Bobcats forced their only turnover of the day when sophomore Jose Calleja (Secane, Pa.) intercepted Eberth at the Bates 25 yard-line midway through the third quarter, but Amherst forced a three-and-out.
The game-winning score was set up by another turnover forced by the Amherst defense. With 12:49 to play in the fourth, Joe Kelly forced a fumble and Nick Tighe pounced on the ball.
On the very next play, Eberth found O'Regan streaking down the left sideline and floated the ball into his receiver in stride.
Ricky Goodson and Manni Malone teamed up to strip the ball from the Bobcats again later in the quarter, and Eberth hit Mallette for a nine-yard touchdown after driving down the field 63 yards in eight plays.
Eberth led Amherst in rushing, with 68 yards on 12 attempts, while also throwing for 231 yards. Brandon Huff gained 38 yards on the ground and Louie Eckelkamp rushed for 31 yards on seven carries.
Sophomore Christian Olivieri (Hull, Mass.) was Costa's favorite target. Olivieri caught six passes for 48 yards. On the ground, Spillane gained 55 yards on 11 attempts.
Matt Schiano racked up seven tackles, had an interception, a sack and a pass breakup for the Mammoths. Brett Bates also added a sack, while Matt Durborow led the team with 11 total tackles.
Junior Connor Hunt (Duxbury, Mass.) had seven tackles for the Bates defensive unit and also broke up a pass. Senior Peter Daley (Wilmington, Mass.), first-year Tony Hooks (New Rochelle, N.Y.), junior Shane Collins (Stoneham, Mass.) and sophomore Spencer Adams (Bedford, N.H.) all hurried the quarterback for the Bobcats.
Senior captain Jon Lindgren (Plainville, Conn.) and Spillane both tallied blocked kicks on special teams.
Bates prepares for its home opener next Saturday with a 1pm game against Middlebury.