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Football looks to even its record in season finale at Hamilton

Already assured of its best season since 2002, the Bates football team (3-4) has the chance to record its first .500 season since 1999 in Saturday's season finale at Hamilton (2-5). The game kicks off at 12pm at Baron von Steuben Field in Clinton, N.Y., and can be followed via Live Stats and Video Webcast.

The Bobcats have defeated the Continentals in six of their past seven meetings.

Bates Last Week

Bates held rival Bowdoin’s offense scoreless and to just 168 yards in a dominating 24-2 win over the Polar Bears last Saturday at Garcelon Field. The win is Bates’ second over Bowdoin in the past three years, and snapped a three-game skid.

Bowdoin scored its lone two points on a defensive PAT runback by Beau Breton, after the Polar Bears blocked Bates’ extra-point kick attempt in the first quarter.

Junior Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) ran for three touchdowns for Bates, while junior quarterback Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.) shook off a second-quarter injury to run for a game-high 77 yards and completed 11 of 20 passes for 146 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) in the first quarter. Squires finished with five catches for 92 yards and the score. Bates rushed for 194 yards, the fourth time this season the Bobcats have netted more than 190 yards on the ground.

Bates’ unexpected defensive hero was first-year linebacker Gilbert Brown (Gloucester, Mass.), who saw his first extended action on the Bates defense after an early injury to senior Cam Evans (Norwell, Mass.), and made the most of it, tallying six tackles, including four for a loss and both of the Bobcats’ quarterback sacks, to go along with an interception. Senior Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) tied with Bowdoin’s Griffin Cardew for a game-high 13 tackles (9 solo), while Brett McAllister (Exeter, N.H.) was credited with 10 solo stops and a forced fumble.

The Bobcats picked off Bowdoin quarterback Mac Caputi four times — one each by junior Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.), sophomore Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.), Brown and senior Will Taft (South Hamilton, Mass.). Caputi threw the ball 30 times with 11 completions for 105 yards. Pat Noone caught four passes for 51 yards and also rushed for 24 yards. Zach Donnarumma rushed for a team-high 45 yards on 21 carries.

Bowdoin (3-4) takes on Colby (3-4) on Saturday in Brunswick. A Bowdoin win would mean a three-way split of the CBB title, while a Colby win would give the Mules the regional crown outright. Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Middlebury and Wesleyan are now all tied for fourth place in the NESCAC.

Bates led Bowdoin 18-2 at halftime, and the second half stayed scoreless until 52 seconds remained in the game, when George dove in from the 2-yard line to make it 24-2. Smith knelt on the point-after attempt to keep the score there.

Hamilton Last Week

McCallum Foote threw four touchdown passes and Remi Ashkar ran for two more as host Middlebury defeated Hamilton 40-21 for their 16th straight "Old Rocking Chair Classic" victory over the Continentals.

It was the fifth straight loss for the Continentals (2-5), after their surprising 2-0 start. Hamilton's offense picked up 25 first downs, held the ball for more than 36 minutes and was 5 of 7 on fourth down. But the Continentals were undone by four turnovers. Hamilton wasn't forced to punt the entire game.

Continentals' running back James Stanell recorded his first 100-yard game of 2011, and his third at Hamilton. Stanell finished with 100 yards and two touchdowns on 24 rushes. He added a career-high eight receptions for another 40 yards.

Jordan Eck was 33 of 47 passing for 273 yards and two interceptions. Eck threw a three-yard TD pass to McCullough Shriver early in the fourth quarter. Eck's 33 completions and 273 passing yards are both career bests with the Continentals.

Dan Peters led Hamilton's defense with 10 tackles and a 38-yard interception return. Peters has intercepted a pass in three straight games. Camron Waugh had nine tackles and Ted Finan added seven solo stops. Mike MacDonald sacked the quarterback for a loss of 16 yards and blocked an extra-point attempt.

Last Year's Bates-Hamilton Game

Bates ended the 2010 season on a high note, defeating Hamilton 28-18 in the season finale. It was the Bobcats' sixth win over the Continentals in their past seven meetings, and Bates' first win recorded on the renovated Garcelon Field. The Bobcats finished 2-6 with the win and Hamilton dropped to 1-7.

Bates took over the lead early in the second quarter and used a stifling and opportunistic defense to keep the lead the rest of the way, despite being held without a first down for the entire second half. Hamilton outgained Bates in total offense, 265 to 179, and accumulated 20 first downs to only nine for Bates for the game.

Kevin Helm had a career-high 18 tackles (14 solo), including 2.5 tackles for a loss, to spearhead a Bates defense that limited Hamilton to negative rushing yardage as a team until its final possession. The Continentals finished with 20 yards on the ground on 37 attempts. Bates sacked Hamilton quarterback Jordan Eck six times, by six different individuals. Andrew Kukesh recovered a Hamilton fumble and picked off two passes, finishing the season with a team-high six interceptions.

Both teams scored their final touchdowns on fumble recoveries in the end zone. Jared Kochenash recovered a misplayed punt return deep in the Bates end zone after several players touched the ball as it traveled back from around the Bates 15-yard line. The score closed the gap to 21-18 with 1:00 left in the second quarter.

Bates returned the favor with 3:43 left in the third quarter, when a fumble by Hamilton quarterback Jordan Eck at the Continentals' 10-yard line was pursued and jumped on in the end zone by Bates linebacker Will Taft. The play, combined with kicker Charlie Donahue's fourth extra-point of the day, represented the only score of the second half.

The first big play of the game came early on. With 10:45 left in the first quarter, Hamilton concluded its second three-and-out of the game by punting from its own 25. But George Taylor's kick was smothered by Matt Place, and Joe Drinkwater recovered the ball for the Bobcats at the Hamilton 1. A false start penalty backed Bates up to the 6, but Patrick George ran it in from there through the left side of the offensive line, and Donahue made his first career extra point for a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, however, Stanell burst up the middle and soon found nothing but open space ahead, for an 80-yard touchdown return. The point-after attempt failed, however, allowing Bates to keep the lead at 7-6.

Eck finished the day with 24 completions on 39 attempts for 245 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. Scott Kleinklaus caught nine passes for 83 yards, while Snickenberger had seven catches for 106 yards. Stanell rushed 20 times for 44 yards.

Mike MacDonald had a team-high nine tackles for Hamilton (7 solo), including one of the Continentals' five sacks on the day. Jim Forrey had seven tackles (6 solo), including two sacks and three tackles for a loss. Kochenash had an interception in addition to his fumble recovery touchdown.

Bates' offensive leaders included Teddy Downs with four catches for 48 yards and a score, and Squires with three catches for 79 yards and a score. George rushed for a team-high 28 yards on 11 attempts.

Several other Bates defensive players had standout games, including senior defensive lineman Joel Israel, who had six tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss; Matt Gaither, who had five tackles, including a sack; Brett McAllister, who had a sack and an interception; and Cam Evans, who had seven tackles.