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Panthers escape Bates with 28-18 win

George

Beaton

T. Smith

Katon

Walker

B. McAllister

Squires

Horvath

LEWISTON, Maine -- Middlebury College scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to come from behind and defeat the Bates College football team 28-18 amid heavy rain at Garcelon Field on Saturday.

Erik Rostad led the Panthers offense with three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing. Rostad had six catches for 70 yards and also rushed for 37 yards.

After Bates freshman Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) gave the Bobcats (0-5) an 18-14 lead with 39 seconds left in the third quarter, the Panthers (2-3) opened the fourth quarter with a 46-yard touchdown drive, capped by James Millard's 26-yard touchdown reception from Middlebury quarterback Donald McKillop (23-43, 252 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception) with 13:13 left to play. Millard finished the game with 6 catches for 67 yards.

The Panthers received the ball again with 7:11 left on the clock and drove 39 yards, with Rostad punching it in from 5 yards out for a 28-18 lead with 5:45 left in the game.

Bates fumbled the ball away on its next possession and a last-ditch effort in the final minute ended with Middlebury getting its one interception of the game, as Dan Haluska picked off first-year Trevor Smith's (Malvern, Pa.) pass.

Smith came on in relief of Bates sophomore starting quarterback Ryan Katon (Durham, Conn.), who left the game in the second quarter with an injury. Katon completed 4 of 6 passes for 75 yards, before Smith came on to complete 7 of 14 passes for 107 yards. Sophomore John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) led Bates receivers with 3 catches for 70 yards.

Middlebury amassed 341 yards of total offense to Bates' 297. The Panthers rushed for 89 yards, with McKillop leading the way with 48 rushing yards on 12 carries. Rostad rushed for 37 yards and a score and caught five passes for 55 yards and a score.

With senior Judd Smith (Milton, Mass.) out with an injury, George became Bates' primary ballcarrier and had his best day as a collegian, netting 61 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. George also caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior Tom Beaton (West Newbury, Mass.) in the second quarter.

After Bates went up 18-14, the Bobcats lost a golden opportunity to further the damage, when Middlebury fumbled the ball away near midfield. Bates returned the favor by immediately fumbling the ball back to the Panthers, setting up their go-ahead scoring drive to start the fourth quarter.

Bates built one long drive that failed to yield any points in the first quarter, followed by two short scoring drives in the second quarter, both of which took advantage of a short field. With 12:28 left in the opening period, Katon's 2-yard bootleg touchdown jaunt finishing off a 35-yard drive. The point-after attempt by junior Gavin Segall-Abrams (Greensboro, N.C.) missed, keeping the score at 6-0.

Bates got the ball back on the Middlebury 28 shortly after on sophomore Brett McAllister's (Exeter, N.H.) interception of McKillop, setting up George's 18-yard scoring connection with Beaton. Beaton's two-point conversion pass attempt failed, limiting the lead to 12-0.

Middlebury answered back with the game's longest scoring drive, taking 15 plays to go 80 yards in just 2:03. McKillop found Rostad over the middle for a 15-yard score with just 15 seconds to go before halftime, closing the gap to 12-7 at intermission.

Middlebury's second-half opening drive fizzled in a three and out, but the Panthers defense kept the Bobcats from doing much better, and with 11:20 left in the third they took the ball over at their own 39. The Panthers drove the 61 yards in 10 plays, going ahead 14-12 when McKillop's pass through traffic found Rostad for a sliding catch in the end zone.

Eric Kamack led the Panther defense with 14 tackles, including a sack and a forced fumble. Junior Myles Walker (Needham, Mass.) made 13 tackles and also forced a fumble for Bates, while sophomore Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) and defensive tackle Devin Horvath (Parsippany, N.J.) had 10 tackles apiece.

Bates plays at Colby next Saturday at 1 p.m. to begin its bid for a CBB title.

STATS: Middlebury 28, Bates 18