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Football Preview: Bobcats (1-4) and Mules (1-4) kick off CBB series at Homecoming

Sophomore linebacker Mark Upton is among the NESCAC leaders in tackles, tackles for lost yardage and forced fumbles. (File photo by Sarah Crosby/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The annual season-within-a-season that is the CBB Championship begins this Homecoming Saturday at 1pm, when the Bates football team plays host to Colby at Garcelon Field, in the 116th meeting between the Bobcats and Mules.

Both teams enter the game at 1-4 -- Colby picked up its first win last week with a 47-14 thrashing of Hamilton, and Bates defeated Williams in Week 3.

Colby lost its first four games -- to Trinity, Middlebury, Wesleyan and Amherst, arguably the top four teams in the NESCAC -- by an average of 22.8 points per game. Last week against Hamilton the Mules abruptly reversed course, piling up a 40-0 lead over the Continentals before halftime.

Bates has been at least competitive each week until Saturday at Middlebury, when the Panthers dominated from start to finish. Injuries at quarterback, in particular, affected Bates' fortunes, as its third-string signal-caller, junior slotback Mike Decina, was summoned to play behind center for most of the second half against the Panthers.

Cats Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

The Bobcat football team, in collaboration with Bates College Women of Color, 'Cats Against Cancer and the B Well program, is promoting breast cancer awareness during the game. The Bobcats will wear pink wristbands in support of this day. There will be a booth at the Commons end zone, staffed by members of Women of Color and 'Cats Against Cancer, to provide more information and to accept donations for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Hope and Healing in Lewiston.

The Particulars:

What: Colby at Bates

When: Saturday, Oct. 25, 1 p.m.

Where: Garcelon Field | Lewiston, Maine

Live Stats: Bates Portal | Video: Northeast Sports Network (Bates portal) 

Twitter: @BatesSports | Facebook: Bates College Athletics

All-Time Series: Colby leads 66-43-6

Last Meeting: Colby 21, Bates 3 (Waterville, Maine | Oct. 26, 2013) 

Bates Last Saturday:

Matt Milano threw four touchdown passes to lead Middlebury to a 35-6 win over the Bates football team last Saturday, during the Panthers' homecoming weekend at Alumni Stadium. 

Bates turned the ball over four times, while Middlebury gave up the ball once. As a result the Panthers had a huge advantage in field positon, beginning at their own 45 on average, while Bates averaged a start from its own 24.Middlebury outgained Bates 331-185 on the day, including a 287-92 advantage through the air. 

Milano finished the day 29-43 for 287 yards with four touchdowns, two each to Matthew Minno and Brendan Rankowitz. Tim Patricia paced the Panther defense with seven tackles and two sacks.

Bates sophomore Ivan Reese led all rushers with 43 yards on 13 carries, while Tomaino caught two passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. Cannone went 3-7 for 92 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Sophomore slotback Ryan Spillane received the first eight carries of his career, netting 30 yards on the ground. 

Sophomore linebacker Mark Upton led all tacklers with 11 stops, three for lost yardage, and one forced fumble. 

Colby Last Saturday: 

Colby played flawlessly in the first half on the way to a 40-0 halftime margin in a 47-14 victory against Hamilton on Saturday. 

Colby sophomore quarterback Gabe Harrington had his best collegiate game, passing for four touchdowns and 225 yards before leaving the game early.

The Mules could not have asked for a better start against the Continentals (0-5 overall). Colby led 14-0 after less than six minutes and were up 20-0 at the first quarter break.

After forcing a Hamilton punt, the Mules went 59 yards in eight plays to get their first touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Harrington to Ryder Arsenault. Colby running back Jabari Hurdle-Price caught an 18-yard pass and ran for 13 yards on the drive.

Colby's defense set up its second touchdown when Jason Buco intercepted a pass and took it to the Hamilton 41-yard line.The Mules wasted no time, with Harrington throwing to Luke Duncklee for 41 yards on the first play of the drive for a touchdown.

The Mules ran for 174 yards in the game, led by Jabari Hurdle-Price's 42. Colby's defense held Hamilton's running game to just 62 yards. The Mules had a 452-184 advantage in total yards.

Last Meeting:

Bates' hopes for a second straight winning season in 2013 were derailed in a 21-3 loss to the Mules in Waterville on Oct. 26, 2013 -- the low point of the campaign for the Bobcats. Bates defeated Bowdoin the following week and Bowdoin defeated Colby in Week 8, so the three Maine rivals ended up splitting CBB honors.

A stingy Colby defense kept the Bates football team out of the end zone all day, dealing Bates its third straight loss while improving to 3-3 themselves.

The NESCAC's leading rushing offense going into the game, Bates was held to a season-low 88 rushing yards on 46 attempts. Bates' offensive attack was the most balanced it had been all season, with Nick LaSpada and Matt Cannone combining for 192 yards in the air out of 30 attempts. Colby picked off three Bates passes in the game, however.

There were only 27 first downs in the game, 15 for the Bobcats, which was a season-low. Colby won the turnover battle 4-1 and averaged 5.6 yards per play, the second-highest of the season for a Bates opponent. Bates' three points were the fewest the Bobcats had scored in a game since the third week of the 2010 season.

Bates Facts & Figures:

Bates ranks second in the NESCAC and 22nd in Division III in run defense, allowing just 98.0 rushing yards per game.

Bates is also among the top 50 Division III teams in:

  • Defensive fourth-down conversion percentage (tied for 8th at .200)
  • Red Zone Offense (tied for 18th at .900)
  • Red Zone Defense (tied for 38th at .625)
  • Net Punting (43rd at 34.49 yards)
  • Kickoff Returns (43rd at 23.06)
  • Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game (49th at 47.00)

The Bobcats lead the NESCAC in red-zone offense in terms of percentage, having scored on nine of 10 ventures inside the opponent's 20-yard line, including a hearty seven touchdowns. Bates' 10 red-zone opportunities, however, rank last in the league.

Upton has at least nine tackles in every game this season, for a team-high 54 in total, and he leads the conference in forced fumbles and tackles for lost yardage. Upton ranks 31st in Division III in tackles per game (10.8), 11th in solo tackles per game (7.2), third in forced fumbles per game (0.60) and 35th in tackles for lost yardage per game (1.8).

Senior punter David Kurey has led the NESCAC in punting throughout this season. He is currently at 41.1 yards per punt, ranking 14th in Division III.

Senior safety Ryan Newson is tied for first place in the NESCAC and fifth in Division III in interceptions (0.8 per game).