LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates' already historic 2012 season would become even sweeter this Saturday, Nov. 10 at 12pm, if the Bobcats can outscore the upset-minded Hamilton Continentals.
A win for Bates, which last week won the CBB title with a 14-6 win at Bowdoin, would signify the Bobcats' first winning season since 1981. Bates has won six of its past six meetings with Hamilton, but the Continentals kept Bates from finishing the 2011 season on a winning note with a 28-15 win in Clinton a year ago.
Bates ranks in the top half of the NESCAC in both total offense (332.6, 5th) and total defense (336.9, 4th). Hamilton has allowed by far the most points in teh conference thus far, at 36.3 points per game (by comparison, Bates has given up 20.0 points per game), while scoring 18.9 points per game (8th in the league); the Continentals are last in total defense (419.7), while ranking eighth in total offense (286.3).
Bates has won the turnover battle in six out of seven games this season and tied in the other, putting the Bobcats in a tie for second place in Division III (with Western New England) in turnover margin per game (+2.0). By the way, the Bobcats are fourth in Division III in interceptions per game (2.28).
A closer look at other key team statistics further point to a winning formula for the Bobcats: they lead the NESCAC in third-down conversion, at a spiffy 49% (Hamilton is ninth at 32%). They're also first in the league in red zone scoring percentage, at 85% (Hamilton is seventh at 71%), and third in first downs per game (21.3; Hamilton is seventh at 16.7).
Bates' and Hamilton's Last Meeting
Jordan Eck threw three touchdown passes to lead Hamilton to a 28-15 win against Bates on Nov. 12, 2011 at Hamilton. 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 title. Hamilton's win tied the all-time series between the schools at 17 wins apiece.
With only its second win over Bates in the past eight years, Hamilton finished 3-5, winning 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.
Eck was 21 of 34 for 250 yards with one interception — Kyle Starr’s conference-leading fifth pickoff of the 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 quarterback Trevor Smith 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.
Ryan Curit finished his stellar season with 76 rushing yards on 11 carries, along with a game-high seven receptions for 71 yards. Patrick George 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.
Bates Last Week
Bates football claimed its first outright Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) championship since 2002, and rose to 4-3 for the first time since 1982, with a 14-6 victory over Bowdoin on Saturday in Brunswick.
The win guaranteed the Bobcats their first season with a record of .500 or better since they were 4-4 in 1999.
The win is the third in the past four years against the rival Polar Bears, and it’s the first time the Bobcats have won in Brunswick since 2002.
Bates gained 160 yards on the ground, led by slotback Mac Jackson, whose 22-yard pickup highlighted a 6-carry, 61-yard day. George ran for 40 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Smith completed 11 of 18 passes for 100 yards — nine of his completions went to receiver Kevin Davis, whose career-high catch total resulted in 87 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive end Matt Gaither racked up a career-high nine tackles (8 solo), including Bates’ lone quarterback sack and three tackles for a loss, as Bates held its opponent to six points for the second straight week (following the Oct. 27 31-6 win over Colby). Linebacker Josh Chronopoulos and linebacker John Durkin tied for the team lead with 11 tackles apiece, and safety Andrew Kukesh picked off his fifth interception of the season.
Hamilton Last Week
McCallum Foote threw five touchdown passes and ran for another and Middlebury routed Hamilton 50-21 at Hamilton's Steuben Field last Saturday.
Foote set NESCAC and school records with 27 touchdown passes this season, while finishing the day 40 of 58 for 456 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Zach Driscoll made his mark on the Middlebury record book as well after his 14-catch, 177-yard performance, becoming the school's all-time single-season leader with 73 receptions.
Stanell ran for a game-high 129 yards with a touchdown on 24 carries for the Continentals. Stanell moved into fifth place on Hamilton's all-time list with 1,486 career rushing yards.
Eck was 16 of 31 for 151 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Eck also ran for 36 yards and a score. Hamilton gained 202 yards on the ground as a team. Joe Jensen led the receiving corps with six catches for 70 yards. Jensen caught a touchdown pass for the fourth straight game and has five total this year.
Mike MacDonald was credited with a team-high 10 tackles and blocked an extra point. Jared Kochenash chipped in nine tackles.