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Football Preview: Bobcats, Continentals have much at stake in season finale

Mark Riley and the Bobcats take aim at a third straight season at .500 or better in Saturday's season finale against Hamilton. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates can finish the 2014 season with a three-game win streak if it can defeat the Continentals for the 10th time in the past 12 meetings this Saturday at Garcelon Field, in the 2014 season finale. 

A Bates win would represent the first three-year stretch at .500 or better since 1977-79. Bates finished 4-3-1 in 1977, 6-2 in 1978 and 5-3 in 1979. A Bates win would also move the Bobcats ahead of the Continentals in the teams' all-time series for the first time since 1992. Bates pulled even at 18-18 with last year's win at Hamilton.

Hamilton (0-7) has lost 19 straight and can be expected to go all out to keep the skid from reaching 20. But Bates' seniors will remember the last time Bates lost to Hamilton, when the Continentals sent the Bobcats to 3-5 with a 28-15 defeat.

The Particulars

What: Hamilton at Bates

When: Saturday, Nov. 8, 12 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: Tied, 18-18

Last Meeting: Bates 38, Hamilton 21 (Clinton, N.Y. | Nov. 9, 2013) 

Bates by the Numbers

Sophomore linebacker Mark Upton is having an immense season in the middle of the Bates defense. Upton forced yet another fumble at Bowdoin last Saturday and ranks second in the nation with 0.57 forced fumbles per game.

Senior punter David Kurey ranks 14th in Division III with a 40.6-yard average this season. Kurey is in excellent position to post the highest punting average in a season in Bates team history. The current record of 38.6 was set by Gavin Segall-Abrams in 2010.

Fourth Down Magic: Fourth down has been kind to the Bobcats this season. They are ranked first in the NESCAC, and 20th in all of Division III, in fourth down conversion percentage, at .636. Incredibly, on the other side of the ball, Bates is third in the NESCAC and fifth in the nation in fourth-down conversion percentage defense (.200).

Other statistical categories in which Bates is among the top 50 teams in DIII:

  • Kickoff returns: 16th (24.18 yards)
  • Net Punting: 35th (34.87)
  • Red Zone Defense: 18th (.600)
  • Rushing Defense: 37th (113.6 yards per game)

Bates Last Week

First-year kicker Grant DeWald made a 25-yard field goal with 1:14 to play for the final margin of victory, as Bates defeated Bowdoin 10-7 to win the outright CBB title for the second time in three years, and the 10th time ever.

Bates (3-4) has defeated Bowdoin four straight years now and claimed at least a share of the CBB title for the third consecutive season. Saturday's win over Bowdoin, combined with the Week 6 win over Colby, decides the annual CBB series before the Polar Bears and Mules face off today.

Both offenses struggled on a rainy, muddy and cold day at Bowdoin's Whittier Field, combining for 27 first downs and 537 yards. Neither team could score until Bates junior Shaun Carroll's 3-yard touchdown run with 1:58 left in the third quarter. Bowdoin evened the game on a 3-yard run by Tyler Grant with 8:36 left to go in the fourth quarter, but DeWald's first career field goal made the difference seven minutes later.

Carroll rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries to lead the Bobcat offense. Mark Riley caught seven passes for 69 yards while Matt Cannone threw for 98 yards and ran for 31.

Adam Cuomo made a game- and season-high 12 tackles (11 solo) for Bates, while Mark Upton submitted eight tackles with an interception and a forced fumble. David Kurey had another excellent game with 10 punts for a 40.0-yard average, with three kicks landing inside Bowdoin's 20.

Hamilton Last Week

Middlebury's Matt Milano threw three touchdown passes to Matthew Minno and the Panthers cruised to a 37-9 win at Hamilton's Steuben Field on Nov. 1.

Middlebury (5-2) posted its fourth straight win overall and its 19th in a row against Hamilton. The game marked the 35th playing of the Old Rocking Chair Classic. 

Milano ended up 23 of 30 for 273 yards with four TD passes. Middlebury's defense allowed just 29 yards rushing and forced five fumbles.

For Hamilton, Chase Rosenberg was 11 of 22 passing for 197 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Colin Pastorella came on in relief of Rosenberg in the fourth quarter and was 6 of 10 for 76 yards. Patrick Donahoe set career highs with five catches for 103 yards, and John Fisher had a career-best 81 yards receiving with one TD. Rico Gonzalez ran for 40 yards.

Last Bates-Hamilton Meeting

Bates scored on five of its first six possessions to build a 31-7 lead en route to a 38-21 victory over Hamilton in its season finale on Nov. 9, 2013 in Clinton, N.Y.

With the win, Bates (4-4) finished at .500 or above in consecutive years for the first time since 1981-82. Bates tied Colby for fifth place in the NESCAC, and also received a three-way share of the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) crown, with Bowdoin's win over Colby the same day.

The Bobcats defeated Hamilton (0-8) for the second straight year and for the ninth time in their past 11 meetings.

Bobcats posted season highs in points, total offense (464 yards), yards gained per rush (5.4) and yards gained per pass (11.8).

Shawn Doherty rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, part of a game-high 215 all-purpose yards, in his final game as a Bobcat. Ryan Curit ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and Shaun Carroll gained 47 yards on just three carries. Matt Cannone completed 9-of-14 passes for a career-high two touchdowns and 165 yards, including scoring passes of 63 yards to Mark Riley and 30 yards to Kevin Davis, who hauled in three passes on the day for 68 yards.

Andrew Kukesh posted a final virtuoso performance with 11 tackles and both of Bates' interceptions.