Football preview: Bobcats host Panthers in home opener Saturday

Junior running back Liam Spillane and the Bates football team hosts Middlebury in the 2019 home opener this Saturday, Sept. 21. (File photo by Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates football team looks to build on a strong week one performance when the Bobcats host Middlebury in the 2019 home opener Saturday at Garcelon Field.

Last season's game between the two squads proved to be a thriller, with the Panthers edging the Bobcats 35-34 at Alumni Stadium.

Middlebury finished with a record of 5-4 in 2018, ranking fifth in the NESCAC in total offense and sixth in total defense. The Panthers are led by head coach Bob Ritter, in his 19th season at the helm. Ritter owns a career mark of 94-53 at Middlebury, which gives him the second-best winning percentage (.639) in the history of the program.


THE PARTICULARS:

What: Bates (0-1) vs. Middlebury (1-0)

When: Saturday, Sept. 21, 1 p.m.

Where: Garcelon Field (Lewiston, Maine)

Live Coverage: Video | Stats

All-Time Series: Middlebury leads 45-14-3

Previous Meeting: Middlebury 35, Bates 34 (Oct. 20, 2018 in Middlebury, Vt.)


MIDDLEBURY LAST WEEK:

Quarterback Will Jernigan scored on a keeper from five yards out with 29.6 seconds on the clock, giving Middlebury (1-0, 1-0) a 17-13 victory over Williams (0-1, 0-1) in the season opener for both teams. 

The Ephs took their first lead of the game (13-10) on their opening possession of the second half. The 70-yard drive was capped by a connection from Bobby Maimaron to Frank Stola from 30 yards on a nice pass over the top of the defender.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Panther defense held on a Williams drive that began at the Middlebury 44. A short punt left the Panthers with the ball on their own 22 with 2:31 remaining. Jernigan completed two quick passes to Aidan Power, before a 15-yard rush moved the ball to the Williams 40-yard line. Jernigan found Maxim Bochman for a dozen yards, before Maxwell Rye made a great catch on the Williams two-yard line for a 26-yard gain. One play later, Jernigan found pay dirt from five yards out to give Middlebury the victory.

Jernigan finished the day 16-33 for 170 yards (TD), while rushing for 82 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown. Alex Maldjian gained 49 yards on the ground on 21 carries, while tight end Frank Cosolito caught five passes for 40 yards. Rye finished the contest with 65 yards on four receptions. Pete Huggins paced the defense with 13 tackles, five for lost yardage, to go along with a pair of sacks. Martin Williams earned eight tackles (1.5 for loss), while Jack Pistorius had seven stops.

BATES LAST WEEK:

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 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.

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.

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.

Junior Connor Hunt (Duxbury, Mass.) had seven tackles for the Bates defensive unit and also broke up a pass. 

BATES' AND MIDDLEBURY'S LAST MEETING:

The Bates football team rallied from 22 points down but fell one point short in a 35-34 loss at Middlebury last season.

Sophomore quarterback Brendan Costa 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 were the most they'd scored in one game since 2014. 

Down 28-6 with 4:42 left in the second quarter, Bates refused to back down. 

The Bobcats got a one-yard touchdown run from sophomore Christian Sanfilippo after a big 44-yard rush by Costa. 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 Drew Jacobs into the end zone. The Panthers 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. 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.

BATES' PROBABLE STARTERS:

MULTIPLE OFFENSE

LT 70 Matt Flanagan Sr. 6-6 313
LG 65 Josh Gendron Jr. 6-1 265
C  64 Jack O'Brien Sr. 6-1 249
RG 71 Nick Florio So. 5-11 270
RT 75 Julien Nicolas Jr. 6-3 288
TE 85 Isaiah Saunders Jr. 6-4 218
WR 1 Jackson Hayes So. 5-9 147
WR 88 Parker Smith Jr. 6-2 206
QB 3 Brendan Costa Jr. 5-10 188
FB 15 Matt Golden Sr. 5-11 219
RB 5 Liam Spillane Jr. 6-1 217

3-4 DEFENSE

DE 49 Nolan Potter So. 6-2 227
NT 99 Ramon Ruiz Jr. 5-9 262
DE 44 Tim Simplicio So. 6-1 225
OLB 36 Mike Bulman So. 5-11 195
ILB 37 Peter Daley Sr. 6-0 211
ILB 53 Spencer Adams So. 5-11 216
OLB 33 Liam Greene Jr. 6-2 212
CB 21 Owen Straley So. 5-6 158
SS 6 Jon Lindgren Sr. 5-10 182
FS 18 Connor Hunt Jr. 5-11 178
CB 22 Devin Clyburn Jr. 6-0 202

SPECIALISTS

K 86 Simon Redfern So. 6-1 194
P 28 Tyler Bridge Fy. 6-3 209

MIDDLEBURY'S PROBABLE STARTERS:

MULTIPLE OFFENSE

TE 46 Frank Cosolito Sr. 6-4 240
LT 71 Kevin Woodring Sr. 6-3 275
LG 52 Colin Paskewitz Jr. 6-3 285
C 57 Anthony Petrosinelli Jr. 6-0 260
RG 79 Ben Barry Jr. 6-3 260
RT 75 Jack Purcell Sr. 6-5 280
WR 84 Maxwell Rye Sr. 6-0 185
WR 11 Maxim Bochman Sr. 5-10 180
WR 16 Aidan Power Sr. 6-0 180
RB 41 Alex Maldjian Fy. 5-8 210
QB 12 Will Jernigan Jr. 6-2 215

MULTIPLE DEFENSE

DE 20 Nick Leone Jr. 6-1 228
DT 93 Alex Norton Sr. 6-3 240
DT 59 Martin Williams Sr. 6-0 275
DE 51 Charles Roselle Jr. 6-4 230
LB 5 Wyllis McKissick Jr. 6-0 205
LB 31 Jack Pistorius Jr. 6-2 205
LB 33 Pete Huggins Jr. 6-2 220
CB 21 Michael Carr Sr. 5-10 170
FS 4 Jonathan Hobart Jr. 5-9 185
SS 17 Kevin Hartley Sr. 6-0 190
CB 13 Coltrane Marcus Sr. 6-1 180

SPECIALISTS

K Carter Massengill Sr. 6-3 215
P Maxwell Rye Sr. 6-0 185