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Defending champion Amherst wins 37-14 in football opener at Garcelon

Brandon Williams breaks up a would-be touchdown pass in Bates' 37-14 loss to Amherst on Sept. 26, 2015. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College) 

LEWISTON, Maine -- Amherst College shrugged off an early 80-yard touchdown run by Bates College's Shaun Carroll and rolled to a 37-14 victory in both teams' season opener on Saturday at Garcelon Field.

Sophomore quarterback Reece Foy completed 22 of 33 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown for Amherst (1-0), with 10 of his completions and 125 of his yards going to Devin Boehm. Kenny Adinkra rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries as the Lord Jeffs totaled 556 yards of offense, including 345 in the first half.

Carroll (Clinton, Maine) finished with 107 yards on 13 carries for Bates and junior Ivan Reese (Savannah, Ga.) ran for 49 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Senior quarterback Patrick Dugan (Westford, Mass.) completed 11 of 16 passes for 117 yards, with senior Mark Riley (Needham, Mass.) catching seven balls for 87 yards.

Amherst amassed 17 first downs in the first half to Bates' four en route to a 28-7 halftime lead. The Lord Jeffs finished with 28 first downs to Bates' 14.

It was the eighth straight victory against Bates for Amherst, dating back to Bates' last victory in the series in 1999; the NESCAC rivals play each other two out of every four years.

The game got off to a great start for the host Bobcats: they held the Lord Jeffs to 19 yards and a punt on their first possession, and the Bobcats took over at their own 20. On Bates' first play from scrimmage of the season, Carroll broke free on a left sweep and saw nothing but daylight by the time he reached the Bates 40-yard ilne, completing an 80-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 Bates lead.

Amherst wasted no time in evening the score, however, going 73 yards on six plays in a drive that elapsed only 1:34, including an 11-yard touchdown pass from Foy to Nick Widen.

Amherst was stopped for a three-and-out on its next possession, and junior Trevor Lyons (Hamilton, Mass.) picked off Foy in Amherst territory to set up the Bobcats at the Amherst 37. The Lord Jeffs set the Bobcats back for a loss on two straight plays, including a combined sack of Dugan by Evan Boynton and Sam Caldwell, forcing Bates to punt. Freshman Justin Foley's (Lynnfield, Mass.) punt went out of bounds at the Amherst 10.

Amherst faced 3rd and 7 at its own 13 when Foy completed to Jackson McGonagle for 30 yards, jump-starting a 13-play, 90-yard scoring drive that ended with Nick Kelly's 5-yard touchdown run with 1:09 left in the first quarter.

Amherst held Bates to a three-and-out and took over at the Bates 47. Foy hit Boehm for 21 yards on 3rd and 12, and two plays later McGonagle rushed around the end for a 23-yard touchdown for a 21-7 Amherst lead with 13:07 left in the half.

Bates scratched out a pair of first downs on its next possession and Foley punted 50 yards for a touchback. Amherst took over at its own 20 and began an 18-play, 80-yard scoring drive that both wore down Bates' defense and gave the Jeffs a 28-7 lead with two minutes left in the half. Amherst converted three third downs on the drive, including Foy's 1-yard touchdown run.

Amherst threatened to open a wider lead on its first possession of the ultimately scoreless third quarter, marching from its own 15 to the Bates 2. 

Sophomore linebacker Max Breschi (Carlisle, Pa.) stuffed Adinkra for no gain, forcing a 4th and 1 at the 2-yard line, and Foy was sacked by Bates junior Ben Coulibaly (Philadelphia, Pa.) for a 10-yard loss, breathing new life into the Bates crowd of about 1,800 spectators. Bates quickly had to punt, however, and Amherst came back to the Bates 14, thanks to an Adinkra 11-yard rush and a 13-yard scamper by Raheem Jackson. 

Jackson was stuck for a 2-yard loss by Coulibaly and junior Brandon Williams (Gardner, Mass.) broke up a pass thrown to McGonagle in the end zone, compelling Amherst to try a 31-yard field goal, which was kicked wide left by Wall. Bates took over at the 20 and began its second scoring drive of the day, moving the ball 80 yards in 14 plays, finished off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Reese with 13:10 left in the game, closing the gap to 28-14.

The teams traded short possessions before Amherst tacked three points to its lead as Wall hit from 31 yards, completing a nine-play, 37-yard drive that started at midfield. The drive's vital play was a 27-yard completion from Foy to tight end Rob Thoma that went for 27 yards.

Just when Bates' Reese had appeared to convert the first down on 4th and 1 at midfield, Amherst's Parker Chapman stripped him of the ball and fell on it to quash Bates' waning hopes. Amherst took over with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter and tacked on a 33-yard touchdown run by backup Jack Hickey in the final seconds of the game to make it 37-14.

Lyons, Coulibaly and sophomore Andrew Jenkelunas (Rocky Hill, Conn.) shared Bates' tackling lead with 10 apiece, while Coulibaly posted four tackles for a loss. Chris Gow and Evan Boynton shared Amherst's tackling lead with seven apiece, including two for a loss by Boynton.

Bates will stay at home next Saturday at 1pm, as part of Back to Bates Weekend, to host Tufts University (1-0), which won 24-21 in overtime today at Hamilton. Amherst hosts Bowdoin (0-1) Saturday at 1pm.