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Football Preview: Bobcats hope to turn tables on Ephs

FINAL GAME STATS: Williams 27, Bates 14

Watch and listen to the game live, for free, at batescast.com! Bates College has again partnered with D3Cast to provide live webcast coverage of this season's home football games at Garcelon Field. Ryan Horvath '10 and Elliot Foster '11 will provide commentary in Bates football's first-ever audio and video live webcast. Go to batescast.com to follow the action!

GAME PREVIEW

Williams College Ephs at Bates College Bobcats

October 4, 2008

1 p.m.

The Bates College football team (0-2) hosts the Williams College Ephs (1-1) at historic Garcelon Field on Saturday during Parents & Family Weekend. The Bobcats, coming off their last weekend's 34-7 loss at Tufts, hope to regain some balance. Williams comes into Week 3 rebounding from their first home loss since Oct. 2, 2004, at the hands of the Trinity Bantams, who also defeated Bates 17-7 in the opening week.

Bates and Williams will meet for the 21st time in football, with Williams leading the all-time series  19-1. In addition to hunting for their first win, the Bobcats seek revenge from last year's 31-26 nail-biter of a defeat in Williamstown. In that game, Bates took a 19-0 lead into halftime and held a 26-25 lead late in the fourth quarter, but a late touchdown dashed the opportunity. Bates’ victory against the Ephs came in 2003, a 10-7 upset.

This year's meeting should be one determined by defense. Despite allowing 34 points to the Jumbos, the Bobcat defense has shown signs of strength -- they're tied for third in the conference with CBB rival Bowdoin with four forced turnovers through two weeks. Williams also brings an impressive defense to Lewiston. The Ephs are second in the NESCAC in total defense, behind Tufts, allowing only 236 yards per game.

SCOUTING WILLIAMS

The Ephs come to Garcelon averaging 22.5 points per game while only allowing 10 points a game, ranking fifth and first in the NESCAC, respectively. The Ephs offense is second in the NESCAC in passing, averaging 246 yards a game through the air. Their rushing offense ranks fifth in the NESCAC, coming into week three averaging 116 yards on the ground.

Accounting for most of these yards on the ground is senior running back Brian Morrissey, who is third in the NESCAC with 97.5 yards per game. Complementing the Ephs’ stable rushing offense is sophomore quarterback Pat Moffit, currently fourth in the NESCAC with 199.5 yards per game passing. Moffitt's favorite target is junior wideout Nick Caro, who is second in the league with 6.5 catches per game receiving and third in the NESCAC with 104.5 receiving yards per game.

Overall, the success of the Ephs offense is reliant on consistent quarterback play.  In last week's loss to Trinity, Moffitt threw two interceptions that proved to be costly in determining the outcome. Although first-year QB Matt Coyne saw some early action, head coach Mike Whalen is sticking with Moffitt as the starter.

The Ephs’ defense currently ranks first in the NESCAC in scoring defense, allowing only 10 points per game, and second in total defense, giving up just 236 yards a contest. Senior defensive back Sean Milano has two interceptions in as many weeks, while junior DB Ikenna Iheoma is making 6.5 tackles per game. Williams has only allowed opponents to convert on 8 of 27 third downs (29.6%), first in the NESCAC. The Williams pass defense is ranked first in the NESCAC and leads the league in sacks with six on the year. Providing the pass rush is senior defensive lineman Charlie Birns, who leads the team with 3 sacks.

SCOUTING BATES

Bates thus far averages 7 points per game and and is allowing 25.5 points a game, 10th and eighth in the NESCAC, respectively. At last in the league in total offense with 183 yards per game, the Bobcats have discovered the majority of their offense through the air while using a multi-quarterback system. Sophomore Ryan Larsen and first-year Ryan Katon have each started a game apiece, while wide receiver Tom Beaton has also taken a significant number of snaps as well.

Among the passing targets this year are junior tight end Matt Sherburne, who had a 13-yard catch against Tufts last week, and junior tight end Sean Wirth, who led the team in touchdown receptions in 2007 and leads the team in overall catches so far with 10. Juniors Matt Gregg (8 receptions, 58 yards) and Beaton (3 receptions, 16 yards) along with senior Mark Flaherty (6 receptions, 63 yards) make for a potent trio at wide receiver. Senior Greg Thornton and junior Judd Smith have been joined by first-year Dylan Taylor in carrying the ball for the Bobcats, for a rushing offense that averages 68 yards per game. Anchoring the offense is a young offensive line led by juniors David Myerson, Alex Gentilli, and Justin Medeiros. Bates’ offensive line, anchored by juniors David Myerson, Alex Gentilli and Justin Medeiros, ranks fourth in the NESCAC in sacks allowed, with only three.

The Bobcat defense has had its successes and struggles in each game of the 2008 campaign. Bates is ranked sixth in the NESCAC in total defense, allowing 362 yards per game, and seventh in the league in rushing defense, giving up 174 yards on the ground per game. Senior captain Coleman Peeke is currently tied for 14th in the league with seven tackles a game, as the Bobcats’ leading run stopper at the inside linebacker position, while on the outside sophomore Myles Walker averages 9.5 tackles per game in his first two career starts. Opponents have had a tougher time being successful against Bates through the air. Anchoring the fifth-rated pass defense in the league is junior free safety standout Kyle McAllister, who led the NESCAC in 2007 in interceptions. McAllister has come up with two more turnovers thus far (1 fumble, 1 interception) and was named NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 1. He's currently fourth in the league in tackles per game at 10 per contest, while junior cornerback Bill Jennings came up with a big game against Tufts, with 2 interceptions, a tipped pass and a tackle for loss.

Around the NESCAC

Trinity (2-0) at Hamilton (1-1): Trinity junior running back Oliver Starnes, second in the NESCAC in rushing, looks to bring victory number three back to Hartford.

Wesleyan (0-2) at Colby (1-1): The Mules seek revenge over the 24-19 defeated delivered by the Cardinals in 2007, and they have momentum after defeating the defending NESCAC champions (Middlebury) last week.

Tufts (2-0) at Bowdoin (0-2): The NESCAC's leading rusher, Will Forde, and the Jumbos go to Brunswick to test the NESCAC's lowest-rated defense.

Amherst (2-0) at Middlebury (1-1): Panther quarterback sophomore Donald Mckillop hopes to channel his NESCAC-leading 371 yards of total offense into win No. 2.