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Football: Bobcats look for third win by ending Middlebury drought

Bates' defense could be looking for some ballhawking from the likes of Cam Evans '12.

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates football team (2-2) takes on Middlebury this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Garcelon Field. Check Bates' page at First Team Broadcasting to tune in to the game. Also follow along with the game via Live Stats.

Outlook

Having ended a 24-year drought against Tufts last season, and sporting Bates' best record after four games since the Reagan presidency, the Bobcats appear in good position to put an end to another nettlesome skein against a NESCAC opponent today against Middlebury. The Panthers have won each meeting between the teams since 1989, meanwhile taking a commanding 37-14-3 lead in the schools' all-time series (the Bobcats were 12-5-3 against the Panthers over the first 20 games of the series, between 1948 and 1969). But this season they stand 1-3, on the heels of back-to-back 48-28 losses to Amherst and Williams.

Bates' pass defense has been a strong point this season -- the Bobcats currently rank 23rd in the nation in pass efficiency defense -- but it will surely be put to the test against the Panthers and their slinging sophomore QB, McCallum Foote, who leads the nation in total offense at 360.8 yards per game. Middlebury leads the NESCAC in total offense by a wide margin, and also has a NESCAC-best red-zone offense, having scored on 14 of 17 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The Panthers have been bitten by turnovers, however, averaging a -1.75 margin in giveaways per game.

Last Meeting

Middlebury limited the Bates offense to 149 yards of total offense and six first downs in a 22-9 win at Alumni Stadium on Oct. 23, 2010. The Panthers (2-3) possessed the ball for nearly 40 minutes of the game even as quarterback Donald McKillop threw the ball 60 times, completing 38 attempts for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Andrew Plumley rushed for 116 yards as the Panthers piled up 532 yards of offense on the day.

Bates got all of its points in the second quarter, and all as a direct result of McKillop's two interceptions. Gavin Segall-Abrams '11 kicked a 27-yard field goal after Brett McAllister '12 picked off McKillop and ran it back 29 yards to set up the Bobcat offense on the Middlebury 12. Bates could only advance the ball two yards and settle for three points, closing the gap to 10-3 with 3:15 left in the half. Two possessions later, Middlebury took the ball over at its own 26. Under heavy pressure, McKillop was intercepted by Tyler Kuehl '12 back at the 15, and Kuehl ran it in to the end zone for his second career pick-six.

As is the case again this year, the Panthers entered the game with a 1-3 record, although they reversed that over the second half of the 2010 season to finish 4-4.

Bates' Last Time Out

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 quarterback Trevor Smith responded with a 14-yard touchdown pass to slotback Ryan Curit with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter, and after Bates successfully executed an onside kick, Smith connected for a 2-yard score with wideout Tom Finkenstaedt, 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 for Wesleyan and earned NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

For Bates, Curit caught 10 passes from Smith for 80 yards and a touchdown, and also rushed for 26 yards on five carries. Wide receiver John Squires added seven catches for 101 yards to aid the Bobcat cause, while on the ground, Patrick George had 64 yards on 17 carries. Outside linebacker Cam Evans led another strong defensive effort for the Bobcats with 10 tackles and two forced fumbles.

Each team capitalized twice on turnovers to score touchdowns.

Middlebury's Last Time Out

Williams gained 280 yards on the ground with five rushing touchdowns on its way to a 48-28 win at Middlebury in an offensive display on both sides. The Panthers gained 556 yards of total offense on the afternoon, but struggled to contain the Eph offense, which gained 494 yards on 67 plays (7.4/play).

Middlebury QB McCallum Foote finished 33 of 52 for 409 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception for the Panthers. Nick Resor caught 11 passes for 130 yards with a touchdown, tight end Billy Chapman earned nine receptions for 96 yards with a score, and Zach Driscoll caught eight balls for 123 yards. Remi Ashkar earned his third 100-yard rushing game of the season, gaining 132 yards on 31 carries with two scores. Andrew Donnelly led the Middlebury defense with 12 tackles, including a sack.