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Wesleyan field goal sinks Bates in overtime, 17-14

Shawki White '09 heads toward the end zone on his 67-yard interception return in the first quarter.

STATS: Wesleyan 17, Bates 14 (OT)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Wesleyan sophomore Chris Helsel kicked a game-ending, 27-yard field goal in overtime to give the Cardinals a 17-14 victory over Bates College, Saturday at Garcelon Field. Helsel had missed two fourth-quarter attempts, a 31-yarder with 5:20 left and a 25-yarder that was blocked by Bates' Anthony Begon (Lynn, Mass.) with 3:25 left in regulation.

The Cardinals raised their record to 2-2, while Bates fell to 0-4.

Wesleyan outgained Bates 334 yards to 203, as wide receivers Ryan Walsh (8 catches, 116 yards) and Danny Granatell (7-111) each amassed over 100 yards of receiving. Zach Librizzi completed 17 of 43 passes for 228 yards, and scored a go-ahead touchdown with a 1-yard plunge to give Wesleyan a 14-7 lead going into halftime.

Bates' Shawki White picked off a Zach Canter pass in the first quarter and streaked down the sideline for a 67-yard touchdown return to give Bates a 7-0 lead. Junior QB Brandon Colon (16-for-39, 145 yards, 1 INT) evened the game with a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

Bates senior Jamie Walker (Needham, Mass.) rushed 21 times for a game-high 73 yards. Librizzi rushed 22 times for 51 yards, while Phil Banks rushed 15 times for 14 yards, including a 2-yard score that tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.

Following White's interception return for a touchdown, Wesleyan stuck with Librizzi at quarterback, and Librizzi threw or ran the ball himself on the vast majority of snaps for the rest of the game.

His 32-yard ramble in the fourth quarter released the Cardinals from a 2nd-and-28 situation, taking them to the Bates 20. But sacks by sophomore Coleman Peeke (Exeter, N.H.) and senior Eric Obeng (Wellesley, Mass.) helped stymie the Wesleyan drive, and the Cardinals settled for a 31-yard field goal attempt by Helsel that sailed wide right.

The Bobcats took over at their own 20 with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter, but on the first play of the drive the snap was fumbled and recovered by Wesleyan's Tom Addinizio, giving the Cardinals outstanding field position once again.

Librizzi connected with Granatell for 13 yards, bringing Wesleyan to the Bates 8. But two straight incompletions were followed by Peeke stopping a Librizzi rush for no gain. Again Helsel was summoned, and the Bobcats' front flooded the line of scrimmage after the snap, as Begon got his palm on the ball, skittering it away into the end zone for a touchback.

Chris Hertz boomed a 66-yard punt in the third quarter, forcing the Cardinals to start from their own 8. The Bobcats held them to three downs and a punt, and took the ball over at the 50-yard line to begin their longest drive of the day. Walker notched a 15-yard gain and Colon connected with junior Dave Philbrook (Portland, Maine) on a 10-yard pass to help bring Bates into the red zone. A defensive holding penalty was called against a Cardinals defensive back, giving Bates a first and goal at the 6. The Cardinals limited Walker on two rushes and sophomore fullback Ryan Mullin (Duxbury, Mass.) to a total of five yards, but Colon finally followed the Bates offensive line's push on fourth and goal from the 1, and first-year Andrew Johnson's (Naples, Fla.) hit his second extra point of the day to for the 14-14 tie as the third quarter concluded.

Bates saw some standout performances from its defense, particularly along the front line. Begon had 3.5 tackles for a loss, including a sack, in addition to the blocked kick. Obeng had two sacks, and Peeke and junior Todd Wilcox (Brentwood, N.H.) also had sacks. Wilcox and junior Ron DiGravio (Farmington, Maine) tied for the team lead with nine tackles apiece. White's pickoff and touchdown run was the play of the day, and junior Kevin Reyes (North Andover, Mass.) also had an interception on Wesleyan's first play of the fourth quarter.

Wesleyan senior defensive end Brian Mahr had an outstanding day with nine tackles, including five for a total loss of 27 yards, a sack, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. Graduate student linebacker Quincy Francis had a team-high 10 tackles, and senior Joe Pepe had one interception, on a tipped Colon pass.

Bates travels to Middlebury (3-1) on Saturday, Oct. 21, with a 1 p.m. kickoff.