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Football Preview: Bates looks to bounce back against Wesleyan

Bates quarterbacks Ryan Katon (above) and Trevor Smith have quick decisions to make as they operate Bates' triple option offense against a Cardinals defense that is allowing only 77.7 rushing yards per game.

Week 4 Football Preview

Wesleyan University Cardinals (2-1) at Bates College Bobcats (1-2)

October 16, 2010 at 1pm

Garcelon Field, Lewiston, Maine

Link to Live Video Webcast (free of charge)

Link to Live Stats


The Bobcats and Cardinals will meet for the 29th time in football, with Wesleyan leading the all-time series 24-4. The two teams first met in 1923, a game won by Wesleyan 12-0. The last victory in the series for Bates came in 2005 when they prevailed 30-29 in overtime in a game played at Trinity College, due to flooding on the Wesleyan campus. Bates’ last home win over the Cardinals came in 2004 when they pounded them 28-7 on Garcelon Field.


Wesleyan overcame four interceptions by the Bates defense, and a 14-0 first quarter deficit, to slip past the Bobcats 28-20 in Middletown, Conn., in mid-October last year. On the opening possession of the game the Bobcat offense marched 62 yards in 12 plays, capping the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Tom Beaton ’10 (West Newbury, Mass.). After an interception by Kyle McAllister ’10 (Exeter, N.H.) gave Bates the ball on the Wesleyan 32-yard line, the Bobcats quickly found the end zone again for an early 14-0 lead. The Cardinals tied the game going into halftime, but the Bobcats struck again in the third when quarterback Ryan Katon ’12 (Durham, Conn.) found John Squires ’12 (Swampscott, Mass.) for a 27-yard score and a 20-14 advantage. After the Cardinals answered with their own third quarter score and a one-point lead, linebacker Cyprian Oyomba returned a Katon interception 54 yards for a touchdown with 5:38 remaining in the game.

The two sides were very evenly matched: Bates held a slim edge on Wesleyan in both total offensive yards (298-294) and time of possession (31:51 to 28:09). The Bobcats were led offensively by Katon, who finished the game 23 of 45 for 201 yards and a touchdown, while the defense was paced by linebacker Myles Walker ’11 (Needham, Mass.), who recorded 13 tackles, and defensive back Kyle Starr ’13 (Concord, N.H.), who intercepted two passes.


The Bobcats hope for a similar crowd to last week's home opener, at which the new grandstand at historic Garcelon Field was packed.


The Bobcats will be looking to get back on track after their home opener last weekend against Williams, in which they managed just 82 yards of total offense compared to the Ephs’ 435. The lone bright spot on offense may have been sophomore running back Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.), who carried the ball five times for 34 yards. Defensively for the Bobcats, senior co-captain Walker, who was all over the field recording 14 tackles, was assisted by juniors Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) and Kyle Aulet (Belmont, Mass.) who contributed 10 and eight tackles, respectively.


Wesleyan relied on a dominating running game, led by graduate student and back-to-back NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week in 2010, Shea Dwyer, to build a 21-6 halftime lead in Waterville, Maine, last Saturday as they coasted to a 27-20 victory over Colby. Colby jumped out to an early first quarter lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Kmetz, who picked apart the Cardinal defense going 26 of 43 for 290 yards and three touchdowns, but the Cardinals responded by handing the ball to Dwyer, who scampered for touchdowns of 10 and 89 yards as he amassed 161 rushing yards in the first half alone on just 12 carries. Dwyer finished the day with 31 carries for 255 yards, setting the Wesleyan single-game yardage record for the second week in a row. Junior quarterback Matt Coyne completed 7 of 13 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown.


The Bobcats will look to come out this weekend and prove that their historic victory two weeks ago over Tufts University was not a fluke. Last Saturday Bates struggled to get pressure on Williams quarterback Patrick Moffitt, who threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns. The defensive line, anchored by tackle Devin Horvath (Parsippany, N.J.), and the linebackers, led by Walker, who is tied for third in the conference with 30 total tackles, will have their hands full as they try to slow down the running game of the Cardinals, ranked first in the NESCAC at nearly 250 yards on the ground and 45 rushing attempts per game. Junior Brett McAllister (Exeter, N.H.), who is tied for the conference lead in sacks with three and tied with Helm for 11th in tackles with 24, will be ready to go after leaving the game against Williams last weekend with an injury.

The Bobcat offense needs to revive after being shut out for the second time in the first three games, though they may well have come against the two finest defenses, and teams, in the NESCAC this season. Bates will look to improve on third down, as they are currently converting 31.4 percent (16 for 51). The protection from the offensive line has been solid as they have allowed only two sacks, second in the conference only to Amherst.


Wesleyan has the fourth highest-scoring offense in the NESCAC, averaging 27.7 points per game, having defeated Colby and Hamilton after falling at Middlebury in their opener. It revolves entirely around the running game, led by Dwyer who has carried 74 times for 587 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging nearly 8 yards per carry and 196 yards on the ground per game. Quarterback Coyne is third in the conference, behind Moffitt of Williams and Donald McKillop of Middlebury, completing 60.7 percent of his passes. However, Coyne has attempted only 61 passes on the season, a conference low.

The pass defense of the Cardinals is ranked next to last in the conference, only ahead of Bowdoin, as they are giving up an average of 273 yards through the air per game. Junior linebacker Oyomba, who leads the NESCAC with 34 tackles, four of which have gone for loss, should continue to be a force in the middle of the Wesleyan defense.