LEWISTON, Maine -- In what could be billed as a matchup of upstarts in the conference, Wesleyan visits Bates today at Garcelon Field. It is the 31st meeting between these teams on the gridiron, with Wesleyan leading the series 26-4.
By the Numbers
Wesleyan currently ranks fourth in the conference in both passing offense, with 184.7 yards per game, and fourth in rushing offense, at 210.7. The Bobcats have run the ball for over 300 yards each of the past two weeks and rank third in the NESCAC in that category, at 239.0 per game, and 10th in passing (70.0 ypg).
The Cardinals rank second in the conference in stopping the run, ninth in pass defense (202.0). The Bobcats are fifth in rushing defense (125.0), eighth in pass defense (198.3), though they are a lofty third in Division III in interceptions per game (2.67) and 11th in opposing passer ratings (85.52).
Bates and Wesleyan are the top two teams in turnover differential this season. Bates is an otherworldly +10 thus far, leading all of Division III with a +3.33 turnover differential per game, having forced 12 turnovers and committed only two. Wesleyan is +3 for the season.
Bates Last Saturday
Bates shocked Williams College Saturday with a 33-6 victory at Garcelon Field that was every bit as dominating as the score indicates.
From a defense that forced four turnovers and held star wide receiver Darren Hartwell to just one catch, to special teams play that featured two Charlie Donahue field goals, to an offense that didn’t give the ball away and, above all, boasted a running attack that punished the opposition for a second straight week, everything went better than the Bobcats could possibly have hoped against the perennial NESCAC power Ephs.
It was a gratifying way to end an awful week for the team and the Bates community. The game began with a moment of silence in memory of Troy Pappas, a freshman wide receiver on the Bobcats from Eliot, Maine, who passed away the previous afternoon after a tragic accident.
Bates ran the ball 66 times for 305 yards and piled up 28 first downs to Williams’ 12. Patrick George rushed 22 times for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Trevor Smith turned 19 quarterback keepers into 98 yards, career-high totals for both players. Teddy Downs ran 14 times for 68 yards and another score. Smith also completed 11 of 13 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Kevin Davis caught three passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns.
Bates got off to a 2-1 start for the second straight year, again matching the team’s best start after three games since 1982. The Bobcats forced four turnovers and committed none, improving upon their average of a plus-three difference in giveaways per game. Bates possessed the ball for 37:59 to Williams’ 22:01.
Lapointe finished with 76 yards and the touchdown on 18 carries for Williams. Marske completed 9 of 24 passes for 86 yards and three interceptions. Chris Cameron had a game-high 11 tackles for the Ephs, including two for a loss.
Bates’ starting secondary played a starring role in limiting Williams to 188 yards of offense and helping create four turnovers. Sophomore cornerback Mike Kelleher had an outstanding game, leading the Bobcats with 8 tackles (6 solo). Kyle Starr was second on the team with six tackles, with a forced fumble and two bone-jarring pass breakups, and Andrew Kukesh was third on the team with five tackles, to go with his second pickoff of the season.
Wesleyan Last Saturday
Despite a big day from Colby first-year quarterback Justin Ciero, Wesleyan stayed unbeaten on the season after scoring 10 points in the final 2:31 of the contest to pull out a 31-28 in Waterville last Saturday. The Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since 1998.
Sebastian Aguirre booted a 20-yard field goal with just 34 seconds remaining for the deciding points and then the Cardinals had to hold off a wild final drive by Colby.
LaDarius Drew had 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns for Wesleyan, while tight end Kevin Hughes finished with five catches for 115 yards. Cardinal quarterback Jesse Warren threw for 233 yards and one touchdown.
For the Mules, first-year quarterback Justin Ciero had 283 yards passing, three passing touchdowns, 102 yards rushing, one rushing touchdown and no interceptions.
Last year's Bates-Wesleyan Game
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 Oct. 15, 2011. It was the third year in a row the Cardinals have gotten past the Bobcats by a margin of one score.
Wesleyan 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 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 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.
Each team capitalized twice on turnovers to score touchdowns.
Curit finished the game with 10 receptions for 80 yards to lead Bates, along with 26 rushing yards on five carries. John Squires added seven catches for 101 yards to aid the Bobcat cause. On the ground, George had 64 yards on 17 carries.