WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Bates football team scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter for the second straight week and defeated Williams for the third straight year on Saturday, winning on the Ephs' home Weston Field by a 14-10 score.
Despite getting hit with an injury to its already depleted defensive line, the Bobcats rose to 2-1 on the year; Williams falls to 0-3.
Senior Ryan Curit (South Portland, Maine) capped a 14-play, 66-yard drive with his two-yard touchdown jaunt with 10:42 left in the game, and the Bobcats held on to the lead with the help of two interceptions down the stretch, by junior linebackers Adam Cuomo (Plymouth, Mass.) and Josh Freedland (Marblehead, Mass.).
Williams scored 10 unanswered points in the second quarter, including Joe Mallock's 46-yard field goal with three seconds left, for a 10-7 lead.
Both teams traded unenviable field position for much of the third quarter, so when Bates took the ball over at its own 34 on the last play of the quarter, the Bobcats still trailed 10-7. A six-yard run by Curit started the ball moving to begin the drive. Junior quarterback Matt Cannone (Windham, N.H.) kept for two straight runs, netting five yards and a first down; he then hit sophomore receiver Harrison Murphy (Whitinsville, Mass.) over the middle for a 16-yard gain, moving Bates into Williams territory at the 39. A pitch to senior Shawn Doherty (Mansfield, Mass.) resulted in an 11-yard gain, and two plays later Doherty was there to fall on the ball on a fumble by Cannone, setting up a 3rd and 11 at Williams' 28.
An incompletion to Murphy made it 4th and 11, and Bates went for it: Cannone fired a strike to an open Kevin Davis (North Andover, Mass.) on the right sideline for the game's most crucial offensive play, giving Bates a first down at the 14.
A pitch to first-year Mike Decina (Hopkinton, Mass.) went for three yards and another Cannone keeper brought Bates to a 3rd and 1 at the 5. Curit ran for three tough yards for a 1st and goal at the 2, and he then danced untouched into the end zone, first diving into the right side of the offensive line before switching directions and following the blocks of sophomore left guard Lyle Seebeck (Chicago, Ill.) and first-year left tackle Mitch Hildreth (Needham, Mass.). Senior Charlie Donahue's (Plymouth, N.H.) extra point made it 14-10 in Bates' favor.
The sides traded punts, before Williams took over the ball at its own 47 with 3:09 left in the game, thanks to a 17-yard return by Kristian Lapointe. Williams QB Tom Murphy threw incomplete to Greg Payton, narrowly escaping a sack by junior Pat Gilligan (Acton, Mass.) and 15-yard loss, but on the next play, Murphy threw behind his receiver and was picked off by the quick-handed Cuomo, returning the ball to the Bobcats.
Bates didn't get far on the ensuing possession but did run two minutes off the game clock. Williams took over at its own 24, but the Ephs threw a scare into the Bobcats, successfully executing a hook-and-ladder play in which Murphy completed a pass to Payton, who then lateraled the ball to Lapointe who in turn lateralled to Alex Scyocurka, who took it to the Bates 24.
After a complete pass to Richie Beaton up to the Bates 18, the Ephs had two shots to score with 11 seconds left. The first Murphy pass was incomplete out the back of the end zone, and the second resulted in Freedland's interception, giving Bates the ball with three seconds to go. Cannone took a knee for the final play of the game, and another gratifying comeback victory for the Bobcats.
In the first quarter, after trading possessions for the first few drives, Bates drove 55 yards, utilizing a consistent run game to go up 7-0, with Cannone scoring on a 1-yard run that opened the 2nd quarter.
Despite fumbling at their own 15 on the ensuing possession, the Ephs did not allow the Bobcats to capitalize on the turnover, forcing a 36-yard Donahue field goal attempt that missed wide right.
The teams traded punts until the Ephs benefitted from an electrifying punt return by Lapointe to the Bates 18. The drive culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Marco Hernandez with 5:50 to go in the second quarter.
Good defense from the Bobcats forced an Eph punt and offensive penalties did the same to the Bates offense. After the two-minute mark, Williams went into the hurry-up, which was effective in moving the ball quickly down to the Bates 29. With time running short, Mallock kicked a Williams school-record 46-yard field goal to put the Ephs up 10-7 at the half.
Curit led Bates' ground game with 77 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Doherty carried 11 times for 71 yards, while Cannone compiled 20 keepers for 59 yards and a touchdown. Cannone also completed 3 of 6 passes for 33 yards. First-year quarterback Nick LaSpada (Billerica, Mass.) made his season debut, completing 1 of 2 passes for seven yards.
Freedland added five tackles (four solo), two sacks, and a forced fumble to his game-clinching interception. Senior captain Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) and Cuomo each totaled eight tackles to lead the Bobcats.
For the Ephs, Murphy completed 13 of 37 passes for 150 yards while Scyocurka rushed 24 times for 112 yards. Ernest Higginbot and James O'Grady paced the hosts with 11 tackles apiece.
Bates stays on the road next Saturday to play at Wesleyan.