Football preview: Bates (1-7) plays at at Hamilton (4-4) in 2019 season finale

Jackson Hayes caught touchdown passes of 54 and 36 yards in Bates' 30-5 victory over Bowdoin on Nov. 2, and makes the start in Bates' season finale at Hamilton on Nov. 9. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

Coming off of the thrill of Saturday night's 30-5 victory over Bowdoin in the first nighttime home game in team history, the Bates football team takes its longest road trip of the season to play the season finale at Hamilton, the breakout team of the NESCAC this season. Saturday's game begins at noon on Steuben Field in Clinton, N.Y.

Bates will likely need to play at least as well as it did Saturday in order to finish the season on a winning note, as the Continentals (4-4) are highly unlikely to overlook the Bobcats (1-7). The Continentals are tied with Amherst and Tufts for fifth place in the NESCAC with their most wins since 1996, and they have already defeated those two teams. Beating Bates would signify their first winning season since that same year, when they went 5-3.

The Continentals have been solid in nearly every phase of the game this season. Hamilton ranks sixth in the NESCAC in rushing yards per game (142), and seventh in the league in passing offense (181 yards per game), passing defense (214.3) and rushing defense (152.5). Their special teams are exceptional: kickoff returns are a bit of a secret weapon, ranking first in the NESCAC with 24.3 yards per return. Kicker Sam Thoreen leads the league with 10 field goals on 10 attempts, and the Continentals rank first in the conference in punting average as well (40.0).

Both teams rank in the top half of the league in third-down conversions -- Hamilton is fourth (43%) and Bates is fifth (38%).

Hamilton's David Kagan ranks fifth in the NESCAC in rushing yards per game (74.3) and second in rushing touchdowns (8) while picking up 4.9 yards per carry. Quarterback Kenny Gray has passed for 180 yards per game with a 50.8 completion percentage, with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Bates quarterback Brendan Costa has cleared 200 yards passing in four of the last five games and has rushed for over 60 yards in three of the past five. In the Bowdoin win, he threw for three touchdowns and 212 yards on only nine completions (with 17 attempts). All three of his touchdown passes -- two to Jackson Hayes, one to Sean Bryant -- went for over 30 yards.

The Bobcats started out 0-7 this season but have improved noticeably in recent weeks. The win over Bowdoin is the obvious first example, while their 23-20 loss at Colby on Oct. 26 and their 33-28 loss to Tufts on Oct. 5 comprise perhaps the team's three best outings in Malik Hall's 17 games as head coach.


THE PARTICULARS:
What: Bates (1-7) at Hamilton (4-4)
When: Saturday, Nov. 9, 12 p.m.
Where: Steuben Field (Clinton, N.Y.)
Live Coverage: Video | Stats
 All-Time Series: Hamilton leads 22-19
Previous Meeting: Hamilton 38, Bates 13 (Nov. 10, 2018 in Lewiston, Maine)


BATES LAST WEEK

The Bates football team ended its 17-game losing streak in a big way Saturday night, trouncing rival Bowdoin 30-5 at Garcelon Field in the first nighttime home football game in team history.

In the 122nd meeting between the old rivals, first-year Tyler Bridge (Wells, Maine) rushed for 188 yards and junior Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) passed for 212 yards and three touchdowns, as Bates (1-7) gained 523 yards on the night, their most in one game since Oct. 22, 2011, when they gained 537 yards in a 49-43 loss to Middlebury.

The Bobcats defeated the Polar Bears (0-8) for the eighth time in nine years, while giving second-year head coach Malik Hall his first victory.

Austin McCrum completed 12-of-29 passes for 200 yards for Bowdoin, throwing one interception. Nate Richam-Odoi rushed for 82 yards on 24 carries and caught three passes for 71 yards.

Costa connected with sophomore wide receiver Jackson Hayes (San Marino, Calif.) for a 54-yard touchdown on the game's sixth play from scrimmage, and his two-point conversion pass to junior Liam Spillane (Byfield, Mass.) was good for an 8-0 Bates lead less than three minutes into the game.

Bates made it 14-0 early in the second quarter, capping a seven-play, 45-yard drive as Bridge ran untouched into the end zone from three yards out.

Bates' defense cut Bowdoin's ensuing drive short as senior Zach Doyon (Eliot, Maine) dived to pick off a pass by McCrum at the Bowdoin 36. Two plays later, Costa lofted a pass down the right sideline to Hayes, who caught the ball in stride and ran into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown, and the PAT by sophomore Simon Redfern (Providence, R.I.) made it 21-0. Hayes finished the game with the two catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

Bates added three points to the lead midway through the second quarter, capping a nine-play, 71-yard drive with Redfern's first career field goal from 25 yards out.

Bowdoin answered with its longest drive of the game before the half ended, advancing 72 yards on 10 plays in less than two minutes. McCrum connected with Richam for 37 yards on the drive and with Michael Cloppse for 14 yards to take the Polar Bears to the Bates 26-yard line. A pass interference penalty against Bates put Bowdoin on the 11 with two seconds left in the half, and Michael Chen hit a 28-yard field goal, cutting the Bates lead to 24-3 at intermission.

Taking over at their own 20 with 5:24 left in the third quarter, Bates embarked on the final scoring drive of the game, picking up chunks of yardage with rushes of 17 yards by Bridge, 14 yards by senior Matt Golden (New Bedford, Mass.) and 23 yards by Costa. On 4th and 6 at the Bowdoin 23, Costa rushed a yard past the first-down marker, but a personal foul called against the Bobcats backed them up to the 31, facing 4th and 14. Costa lofted a pass down the left sideline, where sophomore Sean Bryant (Falmouth, Maine) came down with the ball between two Bowdoin defensive backs inside the 5, and he twisted around and ran the ball in to complete the 31-yard touchdown. Bryant finished with four catches for 92 yards, his second 90-yard game in a row.

Redfern's extra-point attempt was blocked by Harrison Craig, and Soren Birkeland picked up the ball and sprinted untouched down the sideline for two Bowdoin points, closing the gap to 30-5.

HAMILTON LAST WEEK

Middlebury's Alex Maldjian ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter and the Panthers' defense made it stand up in their 14-7 NESCAC win over visiting Hamilton on Saturday, with all the scoring in the game occurring in the first quarter.

Hamilton (4-4 NESCAC) was limited to 222 yards of offense and nine first downs. The Continentals' defense intercepted three passes, recovered a Panthers fumble and sacked the quarterback four times. The Panthers (8-0) won by seven points or less for the fifth time in 2019. Middlebury racked up 208 yards rushing.

Kagan ran for 82 yards and a touchdown for the Continentals. Gray was 10 of 28 passing for 101 yards, and also averaged 41.0 yards on 13 punts with a long of 65 yards.

The Continentals finished plus-3 in turnover margin. Jeremy Barr was credited with a career-high 14 tackles including 10 solo stops. Luca Katz, Ian Esliker and Christian Snell all had interceptions.

Maldjian rushed for 145 yards on 35 carries for the Panthers. Will Jernigan started at quarterback and was 6 of 9 passing for 77 yards. Ben Tauber relieved Jernigan midway through the second quarter and was 4 of 15 for just 35 yards.

BATES AND HAMILTON'S LAST MEETING

ates 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. 

With the Bobcats beset by injuries senior wide receiver Kevin Claflin made the start at quarterback, completing seven of 22 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Flaherty carried the ball 29 times for 86 yards. Hayes caught three passes for a then career-high 71 yards and a touchdown. 

BATES' PROBABLE STARTERS:

OFFENSE

LT 65 Josh Gendron
LG 76 Quinn Woods
C  64 Jack O'Brien 
RG 71 Nick Florio 
RT 70 Matt Flanagan 
TE 85 Isaiah Saunders
WR 1 Jackson Hayes
WR 7 Mohamed Diawara
QB 3 Brendan Costa Jr. 5-10 188
FB 46 Patrick Whelan
RB 5 Liam Spillane

DEFENSE

DE 49 Nolan Potter 
NT 99 Ramon Ruiz 
DE 52 Jack Ryan 
LB 36 Mike Bulman
LB 37 Peter Daley 
LB 53 Spencer Adams
LB 55 Tony Hooks
CB 22 Devin Clyburn
SS 6 Jon Lindgren 
FS 18 Connor Hunt
CB 2 Mohamed Coulibaly

SPECIALISTS

K 86 Simon Redfern
P 25 Quinn Kieselowsky

HAMILTON'S PROBABLE STARTERS:

OFFENSE
 
LT 77 Sean Greaves
LG 50 Aidan French
C 53 Mike Spicer
RG 73 A.J. Rattee
RT 65 Alex Halouchanka
TE 80 Eddie Allen
WR 18 Will Budington
WR 26 Sam Robinson
WR 5 Christian Donahoe
QB 15 Kenny Gray
RB 30 David Kagan
 
4-3 DEFENSE
 
DE 99 Alex Ganter
DT 17 Mike Friedman
DT 92 Luca Katz
DE 90 James Ball
LB 4 Carmine Bruno
LB 11 Jeremy Barr
LB 54 Sam Ratcliffe
CB 29 Ian Esliker
CB 2 Christian Snell
S 6 Justin Leigh
S 9 Sam Bowen

SPECIALISTS
 
K 97 Sam Thoreen
P 15 Kenny Gray