To describe the Bates football team's defense as "ball-hawking" probably doesn't do it enough justice. After all, entering Saturday's game against Wesleyan, the Bobcats led all Division III teams in average turnover differential per game (+3.33), and also ranked third in the country in interceptions per game (2.67).
Though Wesleyan came away with a nailbiter of a 24-22 victory at Garcelon Field on Saturday, Bates' defense continued to cause turnovers at a nation-leading rate, causing three Cardinal giveaways, and nearly a fourth as well. Senior inside linebacker Josh Chronopoulos (Tynsboro, Mass.) not only racked up game- and career-highs in tackles (13), solo tackles (11) and tackles for loss (3.0), he also was responsible for one of those turnovers, and nearly another. On Wesleyan's second possession of the game, Chronopoulos picked off Cardinals quarterback Jesse Warren and returned it eight yards, setting up the Bobcat offense at Wesleyan's 30-yard line.
In the second quarter, Chronopoulos forced Wesleyan running back Kyle Gibson to fumble, though the Cardinals were able to recover the ball.
With senior cornerback Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) and sophomore outside linebacker Gilbert Brown (Gloucester, Mass.) also intercepting Warren in the fourth quarter, both on huge plays that kept Bates within striking distance on the scoreboard, Bates retained its top national ranking in average turnover margin this week, at +2.75, and with 11 interceptions in their four games, the Bobcats remain third in the country in that category.
Chronopoulos, meanwhile, is Bates' leading tackler thus far, with 35 (26 solo).