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Football slugs it out to top Tufts for fourth straight year, 20-16

Ivan Reese (22) is congratulated by Kevin Davis after he scored Bates' go-ahead touchdown with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter against Tufts on Sept. 28, 2013. Photo by Jose Leiva/Bates College.

LEWISTON, Maine -- Pass-happy Tufts University overcame a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to assume a 16-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, but run-happy Bates College came back to score the go-ahead touchdown with 42 seconds left for a 20-16 NESCAC victory Saturday at Garcelon Field, before a crowd of nearly 3,000 spectators on Parents & Family Weekend. Ivan Reese's 1-yard touchdown run capped the decisive 17-play, 96-yard drive.

Bates (1-1) defeated Tufts (0-2) for the fourth straight year, but it was anything but easy. The Jumbos collected 30 first downs to Bates' 19 and rolled up 477 yards of offense, including 397 through the air. Quarterback Jack Doll completed 46 of 67 passes with no touchdown passes but a 1-yard touchdown run. Eleven Jumbos recorded receptions, with four of them making seven or more catches: Jack Cooleen (9-69), Nick Kenyon (7-97), Greg Lanzillo (7-84) and Mike Rando (7-37). Freshman kicker Jackson Bockhorst made three field goals to help fuel Tufts' comeback.

Bates slotback Shawn Doherty, who opened up the scoring with a 48-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, finished with a career-high 182 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns, as well as 247 all-purpose yards. Ryan Curit gained 93 yards on 21 carries. Quarterback Patrick Dugan ran for 25 yards and completed 5 of 9 passes for 96 yards. After piling up 290 rushing yards against Trinity a week ago, Bates rolled up 317 yards on the ground against Tufts.

With Doll repeatedly throwing to his side of the field, Bates cornerback Mike Kelleher racked up 18 tackles, including 15 solo stops.

On the third series of the game, with Bates facing 1st and 20 at the Tufts 48, Doherty made the most of a broken play, dancing around and through several Tufts defenders near the right hash mark before finding a diagonal lane to the other side of the field, outracing Tufts' secondary to the end zone, with Charlie Donahue's point-after making it 7-0. Bates had taken over the ball at the Tufts 48 after John Durkin knocked the ball out of Tufts receiver Cooleen's hands and Matt Comstock fell on the ball.

Tufts turned the ball over again on its second possession, with Michael Lee picking off Doll to set up the Bobcats at the Tufts 36. A 12-yard reception by Doherty and an 11-yard catch by Mike Decina put the Bobcats inside Tufts' 10-yard line, and on 3rd and goal from the 7, Doherty scored untouched on a deceptive sweep to the left side, giving Bates a 14-0 lead with 5:41 left in the opening period.

A Bates penalty on the point-after by Donahue helped set up the Jumbos near midfield on their third possession, and they advanced to Bates' 14 with five straight completions to four different receivers by Doll. Bockhorst's 32-yard field goal attempt split the uprights to close the gap to 14-3 with 3:47 left in the first. Doll completed 13 of 15 passes in the first quarter for 76 yards.

Neither team gained much offensive traction for the rest of the half, with Bates punting five straight times and Tufts punting on five of its last six possessions of the half. The Jumbos nearly sneaked in another score for the break, however, driving all the way from their own 6, with 1:17 left in the period, to Bates' 17, setting up a 34-yard field goal attempt by Bockhorst that missed wide left with two seconds to go.

At intermission, Doll was 22-for-33, including six completions to Lanzillo for 78 yards; for Bates, Doherty had 136 yards from scrimmage and two scores, and Kelleher had already racked up 12 solo tackles.

Tufts started off the second half even more impressively than it finished the first, marching 94 yards on 10 plays. Doll's sixth completion of the drive went to Kenyon for 37 yards to Bates' 1, where he was leveled out of bounds by Gilbert Brown. A play later, Doll sneaked into the end zone to close the gap to 14-10.

Bates advanced the ball 45 yards on its first possession of the third quarter before David Kurey's punt found the end zone for a Tufts touchback. The Jumbos then mounted another lengthy drive, moving 71 yards on 13 plays to set up a 26-yard field goal by Bockhorst, closing the gap to 14-13 with 5:40 left in the third. Bockhorst's original attempt missed from 31 yards, but an offsides penalty called on Bates gave him a second chance and he took full advantage.

Tufts took over at its 33 on the first drive of the fourth quarter, and Doll went right to work again, finding Rando for 11 yards, then Ben Berey for two straight tosses for nine yards before keeping for four more yards and another first down. Doll then found Kenyon for nine more yards; Bates lineman Tucker Oniskey stripped the ball away, but Kenyon recovered his own fumble at Bates' 18, 15 additional yards ahead. Short completions ot Matt Cahill and Rando brought Tufts to Bates' 10, setting up Bockhorst's go-ahead 27-yard field goal to give Tufts a 16-14 lead with 11:48 left in the game.

Doherty returned the ensuing kickoff 27 yards to the Bobcats' 33, and on 3rd and 2 from the 41, Curit broke free up the right sideline for a 19-yard gain, pushing Bates into Tufts territory. The drive stalled after Corey Burns stopped Reese for a loss on 3rd and 2 at the 19, forcing Bates to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt by Donahue, who entered the game having made 11 field goal attempts in a row dating back to 2011. A Tufts player got a hand on Donahue's kick, which fell short of the crossbar to end the streak just one short of tying for the New England Division III record.

Tufts took over at its 20 and at the end of a Doll keeper benefited from a personal foul penalty. A completion to Trause on 1st and 10 at the 37 was stopped by Ryan Newson for a 4-yard loss, however, so completions to Cooleen and Lanzillo for seven and six yards, respectively, couldn't net the Jumbos a needed first down. Willie Holmquist punted from the Jumbo 46 all the way to Bates' 4, where it was downed with 6:25 left in the game.

Bates' offense then found its rhythm for its best drive of the game, a 17-play, 96-yard possession that ate up nearly six minutes on the clock. Key plays on the drive included a 32-yard completion from Dugan to Kevin Davis on 3rd and 6 from the Bates 30, and a seven-yard tote by Curit to convert a 4th and 2 at the Tufts 30. The game clock had dwindled to 1:17 when Tufts called timeout with the Bobcats in a 3rd and 2 at the 3-yard line, but Curit's hard-charging run netted two yards and the biggest first down of the game. Two plays later, Reese pushed in from the 1 for his first collegiate score, and Bates' first points since the first quarter. His two-point conversion rushing attempt was stopped, but Bates held a 20-16 edge with just 31 seconds left in the game.

Tufts was still not finished, however, as Rando nearly broke the ensuing kickoff return all the way to the house but was finally pushed out of bounds by Pat Gilligan at the Bates 41, a 53-yard gain. Two Doll incompletions made it 3rd and 10, but Doll found Kenyon open for a 16-yard gain, taking Tufts to Bates' 25 with 12 seconds left. After a Tufts timeout, Doll threw incomplete to Cooleen, giving the Jumbos one final chance. As time expired, Doll found Trause open over the middle at Bates' 10, but he was dragged down by Hild to seal the win.

Next Saturday, Oct. 5, Bates plays at Williams at 1pm, looking for its third straight victory against the Ephs.