MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- A scoreless first half gave way to a 21-0 Wesleyan lead, followed by a furious Bates comeback that ran out of time for a 21-14 Bates loss at Corwin Stadium on Saturday.
Wesleyan freshman running back LaDarius Drew scored three straight touchdowns, on runs of 3, 5 and 90 yards, to put Wesleyan ahead 21-0 with 10:58 left in the fourth quarter.
Bates junior quarterback Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.) responded with a 14-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Ryan Curit (South Portland, Maine) with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter, and after Bates successfully executed an onside kick, Smith connected for a 2-yard score with senior Tom Finkenstaedt (Norwell, Mass.), closing the gap to 21-14 with 1:33 remaining. A second onside kick attempt was not successful, and Wesleyan was able to pin the Bobcats to start their final possession at their own 1-yard line.
Drew ran the ball 26 times for 162 yards and three TDs, his third consecutive game with over 100 yards on the ground and his second in a row of finding the end zone three times.
Each team capitalized twice on turnovers to score TDs.
Drew got his first two trips to paydirt from runs of three and five yards, capping Wesleyan drives after an interception and a Bates muffed punt return. Wesleyan senior Colin Hartwig made a juggling interception of a pass he batted near the line of scrimmage to give the Cardinals the ball at the Wesleyan 47-yard line early in the third quarter. Drew rushed the ball five times for 26 yards during the TD march, while a 27-yard pass play from senior Matt Coyne to freshman Jay Fabien, who finished the game with six catches for 94 yards, was a key element during the series.
When Bates muffed the receipt of a punt in the final minute of the third period, Wesleyan took over at the Bates 42-yard line. Another connection from Coyne to Fabien, this time for 25 yards, set up Drew's five-yard TD scamper to make it 14-0 with 12:44 left.
Bates was unable to move the ball on its next possession, but pinned Wesleyan deep with a 52-yard punt by first-year David Kurey (West Chester, Pa.) to the Cardinal 10. But on the first play from that point, Drew burst up the middle then headed to the right sideline and raced untouched to the end zone for a 90-yard TD and a 21-0 Wesleyan lead with 10:58 to go. The TD run was four yards shy of the Wesleyan school record set in 1947.
Each team had two possessions over the next six minutes, with Wesleyan starting at its own three following a booming, 68-yard Kurey punt. Wesleyan fumbled at the 14 on its first play following a Bates penalty, as Bobcat senior Cam Evans (Norwell, Mass.) jarred the ball free. Smith, who threw 47 times, completing 23, for 219 yards, wasted no time spotting Curit for a 14-yard TD with 4:38 showing on the clock.
Curit finished the game with 10 receptions for 80 yards to lead Bates, along with 26 rushing yards on five carries. Senior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) added seven catches for 101 yards to aid the Bobcat cause. On the ground, junior Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) had 64 yards on 17 carries for Bates.
A perfectly executed onside kick by sophomore Charlie Donohue (Plymouth, N.H.) was recovered by sophomore Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) at the Bates 40. Smith then completed six passes for 46 yards, the final one a two-yarder to senior Finkenstaedt for the score with 1:33 remaining. Smith also had a 12-yard scramble during the march.
But the next onside kick attempt dribbled out of bounds, and Wesleyan took over at the Bates 30. Wesleyan was forced to punt, but downed the ball at the Bates 1-yard line with 1:02 to play. Smith completed a dramatic 35-yarder to Squires on 3rd-and-21 from the 1, but Bates got no further than the 36-yard line, as Smith was sacked by Cyprian Oyomba and Nik Powers on the last play of the contest.
While there was no scoring in the first half, each team had a touchdown opportunity stuffed by the opposing defense. Wesleyan held on a 4th-and-goal run by Bates on its opening drive. And following a blocked punt by Wesleyan freshman Ibraheem Khadar, Bates held Wesleyan on 4th-and-goal at the one early in the second quarter.
Evans led Bates defensively with 10 tackles on the day and forced a pair of fumbles. Seniors Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) and Will Taft (South Hamilton, Mass.) came up with eight tackles apiece, and Kukesh added seven. Senior Brett McAllister (Exeter, N.H.) made his team-best fourth sack of the season for a 12-yard Cardinal loss.
Oyomba had a team-high 12 tackles for Wesleyan and had 1.5 of the Cardinals' seven sacks in the game.
Junior slotback Ryan MacDonald (Melrose, Mass.) posted career highs with three receptions for 11 yards and three carries for 17 yards.