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Football team tops Hamilton in a thriller, 23-22











LEWISTON, Maine -- Tom Beaton's 20-yard touchdown reception with less than two minutes remaining gave the Bates College football team a 21-20 lead, and the Bobcats held on for a 23-22 victory over Hamilton College in both teams' season finales. It was Bates' fifth win in a row over Hamilton, all coming in the last game of the season. The Bobcats and Continentals both end the season at 2-6.

Beaton (West Newbury, Mass.) caught 8 passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns, as first-year quarterback Ryan Katon (Durham, Conn.) notched career highs with 26 completions on 46 attempts for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Katon also ran for a 1-yard touchdown. Sophomore Gavin Segall-Abrams (Greensboro, N.C.) converted a crucial 38-yard field goal with no time left on the clock in the second quarter to send Bates into the locker room with a 9-7 lead at halftime. Bates picked off five passes by Hamilton quarterback Jordan Eck, including two by junior Bill Jennings (Marshfield, Mass.) in the fourth quarter.

Dylan Isenberg rushed for a game-high 88 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries for the Continentals, who outgained the Bobcats 294 yards to 206. Scott Kleinklaus snared 6 passes for 108 yards and a score. Eck completed 11 of 25 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns, and backup QB Steve Mello went 4 for 11 for 42 yards.

Beaton's late touchdown was followed by a 2-point conversion pass from Katon to junior Judd Smith (Milton, Mass.). Hamilton took the ball over from the Bates 43, but Eck was picked off by Jennings at the Bates 19 on the next play. Bates couldn't quite run out the clock the rest of the way, and on fourth down and 13 at the Bates 16, Beaton ran the ball into the back of the end zone, conceding Hamilton a safety with 3 seconds left on the clock. The Continentals were unable to return the ensuing kickoff, ending the game at 23-22.

Hamilton took an early 7-0 lead on its first possession of the game, after starting off with good field position at the Bates 37. Eck found Kleinklaus open for a 20-yard scoring connection on the Continentals' third play from scrimmage.

The Continentals turned the ball over with interceptions on three of their next five possessions, and the Bobcats finally made them pay after Eck, backed up to the Hamilton 1 after a crucial sack by senior Nick Marlin (Holliston, Mass.), was picked off by senior Coleman Peeke (Exeter, N.H.) at the Hamilton 17. The Bobcats took seven plays to finally cash in on Katon's 1-yard plunge on third down and goal, with 4:34 left in the second quarter.

Bates had one more possession left in the half, taking the ball over at their own 26 with 1:22 left. On second down at the Bates 40, Katon found junior Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) open, and the 6-foot-7 tight end rumbled 39 yards down the sideline to the Hamilton 21, setting up the go-ahead 38-yard field goal by Segall-Abrams.

Hamilton took the lead back in the third quarter, however. The Continentals backed the Bates offense to their own 15, and Segall-Abrams' punt was returned by Will Finan for 30 yards, setting up the Continental offense on the Bates 21. Two plays later, Eck found Foster on a 20-yard touchdown connection, making it 14-9 Hamilton.

Bates responded with its longest sustained drive, going 67 yards on 9 plays as Katon completed 5 of 7 passes, finally finding Beaton over the middle for a 19-yard touchdown strike. Bates went for two points and failed, putting the Bobcats ahead 15-14.

Hamilton took the lead one more time as the clock waned under 5 minutes to play, starting off with a 30-yard punt return by Finan, then finishing off a 6-play, 60-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring rush by Isenberg. with 4:39 left, Hamilton led 20-15.

Bates was forced to punt on its next possession, but Jennings gave the Bobcats the ball back with his first interception, stepping in front of a pass intended for Finan and returning the ball 18 yards to the Hamilton 30. Katon completed four passes to Beaton on the ensuing drive, the final one being the deciding score. From the Hamilton 20, Beaton caught Katon's pass near the Hamilton 12, made a brilliant juke move around a Continental defender and sprinted to beat the defense to the right pylon. Bates was flagged for excessive celebration after the play, which was assessed to the kickoff. Bates went for the 2-point conversion and Katon found Smith to make it 23-20.

Sophomore linebacker Myles Walker (Needham, Mass.) led the Bobcats defense with 8 tackles, including two for a loss. Jennings had two interceptions, while junior Greg Gumbs (Queens Village, N.Y.), Peeke and junior Kyle McAllister (Exeter, N.H.) all had additional picks -- McAllister returned his for 49 yards. Trevor Pedrick led the Continentals defense, also with 8 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss and one pass breakup.

Wirth caught 6 passes for 80 yards, all in the first half. Senior Mark Flaherty (East Walpole, Mass.) caught a career-high 6 passes for 49 yards, while sophomore Evan Tierney (Carlisle, Mass.) added 3 catches for 21 yards.

STATS: Bates 23, Hamilton 22