CLINTON, N.Y. -- Jordan Eck threw three touchdown passes to lead Hamilton to a 28-15 win against Bates on Saturday at Steuben Field. In spite of the loss, Bates finished with its best record since 2002, at 3-5, and also claimed a three-way share of the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) title, by virtue of Bowdoin's win over Colby today (Bates beat Bowdoin last week but lost at Colby the week before).
With only its second win over Bates in the past eight years, Hamilton (3-5) won more than two games in a season for the first time since 1996, when the Continentals went 5-3, and ended their losing skid at five games. Bates failed in its bid for the Bobcats' first .500 season since 1999. The all-time series between the schools is now tied at 17 wins apiece.
Eck was 21 of 34 for 250 yards with one interception -- Bates junior Kyle Starr's (Concord, N.H.) conference-leading fifth pickoff this year. Garrett Hoy caught six passes for a career-best 94 yards, and was 4-for-4 on extra-point attempts. James Stanell ran for 52 yards and one touchdown, and added 24 receiving yards. Patrick Donadio caught two TD passes and Ryan Cray had one.
Bates junior quarterback Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.) completed 18 of 43 passes for 181 yards. Smith netted seven yards rushing to finish with 188 yards of total offense, to break Bates' single-season record for total offense with 1,688 (187 rushing, 1,501 passing). Matt Bazirgan '00 held the former team record with 1,679 yards in 1999.
Sophomore Ryan Curit (South Portland, Maine) finished his stellar season with 76 rushing yards on 11 carries, along with a game-high seven receptions for 71 yards. Junior running back Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) rushed for two touchdowns, giving him five visits to the end zone in two weeks, as part of his 15-carry, 73-yard day.
The Bobcats racked up 178 rushing yards to finish the season with 1,266 total, the team's most since 2003.
Hamilton's defense sacked Smith five times and forced him to fumble twice. Austin Durham and Mike MacDonald were credited with 13 tackles apiece for Hamilton, while Durham also forced one of Smith's two fumbles. Jacob Sheetz-Willard had 10 tackles and a sack.
Senior captain Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) led the Bates defense with nine tackles, including a sack. First-year Gilbert Brown (Gloucester, Mass.) and senior Brett McAllister (Exeter, N.H.) posted seven stops apiece.
The Continentals jumped on top early in the first quarter. On the Bobcats' second play from scrimmage, Durham forced a fumble by Smith that was recovered by Ted Finan at the Bates 28-yard line. Eck completed a pass to Donadio for 11 yards and Stanell ran 14 yards to the Bobcats' 3. After Eck rushed for no gain, he found Donadio in the back of the end zone with 11:57 left.
Bates tied the score with an eight-play, 65-yard drive midway through the first. George gained 50 of those yards, including a 26-yard run off tackle that ended with George diving into the front right corner of the end zone. The point-after by sophomore kicker Charlie Donahue (Plymouth, N.H.) made it 7-7 with 6:25 remaining.
Hamilton grabbed the lead back for good on its next possession. Stanell capped the nine-play, 63-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run -- his sixth TD this year -- with 1:51 left. Eck completed all seven of his pass attempts on the drive, including a 28-yard strike to Hoy.
The Continentals extended their lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter. After forcing the Bobcats into a three-and-out series, Hamilton went 75 yards in just four snaps. Eck lost 3 yards after he was sacked by Helm to start the drive, but he threw 26 yards to McCullough Shriver, another 28 yards to John Fisher and finally 24 yards to Cray for the score with 13:40 left.
Eck extended the Continentals' advantage midway through the second. During an 11-play scoring drive, he threw for 68 yards and ran for 17 more. Eck ran 10 yards for a first down on third-and-8, and then found Donadio on the left side of the end zone for a 13-yard scoring toss on third-and-10. Hoy made it 28-7 with his extra point with 6:04 remaining.
The defenses held the upper hand in the second half, with neither team scoring until 6:44 was left in the fourth quarter. A 50-yard punt by Bates first-year David Kurey (West Chester, Pa.) was downed at the Hamilton 1. On the next play, senior defensive lineman Tyler Kuehl (Plymouth, N.H.) and sophomore safety Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) tackled Stanell in the end zone for a safety that pulled the Bobcats two points closer, at 28-9.
Bates retained possession after a free kick by the Continentals, and the Bobcats drove 62 yards in 13 plays. Smith found Curit for 20 yards on third-and-6 to the Hamilton 15, and the pair hooked up again for a 4-yard gain on fourth-and-3 to the 4. Finally, George bulled into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 4:04 remaining. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and Bates trailed 28-15.
The Continentals gained just 15 yards on their next possession, but ran nearly three minutes off the clock. The Bobcats had the ball just once more, and turned it over on downs at the Hamilton 49.
Bates held a 359-319 advantage in total yards, but was just 1 of 4 on red zone chances.