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Cardinals come back to top football team, 28-20

Beaton

Taylor

Squires

Walker

Katon

Helm

McNeil

Starr

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- The Bates College football team ran out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, before the host Wesleyan University Cardinals recovered and roared back for a 28-20 win on Saturday.

Wesleyan never led until junior Steve Hauser caught his third TD pass of the contest, a four-yarder to the left-front corner of the endzone from sophomore QB Blake DuBois. That came at 2:51 of the third quarter, and the extra point by sophomore Matt Alexander spotted the Cardinals their first advantage at 21-20. 

Bates went the distance on its opening possession, driving 62 yards on 12 plays as senior Tom Beaton (West Newbury, Mass.) galloped three yards to the left with 9:08 left in the first quarter. It appeared Bates was going to settle for a field-goal attempt of 20 yards after facing a 4th-and-goal at the three-yard line, as the Bobcats brought junior kicker Gavin Segall-Abrams (Greensboro, N.C.) onto the field. But Bates lined up in a spread formation with the bulk of its line to the right of center and Beaton next to Segall-Abrams.  Beaton took the snap and rolled left, finding room to cross the goal line for the score.

Bates made it 14-0 at 3:43 of the period when, after an interception by senior Kyle McAllister (Exeter, N.H.) at the Wesleyan 32-yard line, sophomore Dylan Taylor (Madison, Conn.) broke a tackle in the backfield, shed another one downfield and darted 32 yards up the left sideline to give the Bobcats their second score.

Wesleyan scored the next two TDs to even the count at halftime, 14-14. Hauser did the honors on both scores, making an 11-yard reception at 12:26 to cap a 13-play, 70-yard march, the longest drive of the day in both distance and time (6:13) by either team. Hauser caught the TD in the back of the endzone surrounded by Bobcats, still managing to make the snag. His second TD catch, a four-yarder at 1:20 of the frame, came after Wesleyan took possession at the Bates 43-yard line after a fumbled snap on a punt attempt. A facemask penalty on Bates and a 15-yard catch-and-run by sophomore running back Vince Miller accounted for 30 of the Cardinals' 43 yards.

Bates regained the lead on its first series of the second half as sophomore quarterback Ryan Katon (Durham, Conn.) zipped a pass over the middle to sophomore receiver John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) for a 27-yard reception on a 4th-and-19 play. Squires hung on and pounded his way into the endzone through two would-be Cardinal tacklers.  Segall-Abrams missed the extra-point, wide to the left, limiting the Bates lead to 20-14.

With Wesleyan holding a tenuous 21-20 lead into the fourth quarter, Bates got near midfield on two possessions, but was forced to punt on the first while the second resulted in a 54-yard interception return for a TD by Wesleyan sophomore linebacker Cyprian Oyomba, who stepped in front of a Bobcat receiver on the left sideline and scampered up the sideline to paydirt and a 28-20 Wesleyan lead at 5:38. 

Bates came up empty on a fourth-down pass on its next possession but held Wesleyan at the Bates 42, forcing a Kyle Weiss punt. He placed his kick perfectly, landing his boot inside the 10-yard line and watching it die at the one-yard line with 2:03 remaining.  Still Bates moved the ball to its own 34, but a sack by Cardinal senior Pete Sugarbaker pushed the Bobcats back to the 20 and the drive stalled on an incompletion on fourth down.

For Bates, Katon connected on 23 of 45 attempts for 201 yards, with senior Matt Gregg (Milton, Mass.) hauling in seven for 45 yards. Squires had the most productive game of his young career, with five catches for 69 yards and the touchdown. Taylor gained 40 yards on the ground and 27 yards through the air on four catches. Senior tight end Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) added four receptions for 54 yards.

Junior linebacker Myles Walker (Needham, Mass.) paced the Bates defense with a game-high 13 tackles, nine solo. Sophomore linebacker Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) had his biggest day as a Bobcat with seven tackles and an interception. Senior defensive end Rich McNeil (Lawrence, Mass.), had three tackles for a loss, including a quarterback sack, and first-year cornerback Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) picked off two passes, the first two interceptions of his career.

Hauser had just the three receptions for Wesleyan, good for 19 yards and three TDs, while junior Pete Modera had five catches for 52 yards and freshman Paulie Lowther had three catches for 91 yards for Wesleyan. DuBois completed 18 of 33 passes for 244 yards. 

Bates hosts Middlebury (1-3) next Saturday at 1 p.m.

STATS: Wesleyan 28, Bates 20