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Football preview: Bates begins defense of its CBB title at Colby

Trevor Lyons and the Bates Bobcats will look to take the lead for the CBB title this Saturday, Oct. 31 at Colby College. (File photo by Sarah Crosby/Bates College) 

Click here for our pre-game interview with head coach Mark Harriman.

LEWISTON, Maine -- The biggest weeks of the season are finally here for the Bates football team. Saturday's game at Colby marks the beginning of the program's attempt to defend its CBB title. The Bobcats have claimed two of the past three CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) titles outright, and have at least a share of five of the past six in the CBB series. 

Last year's 34-28 overtime victory over Colby is considered by many to be one of the most dramatic wins in Bates football history. This year's game is the perfect opportunity for the Bobcats (0-5) to get their first win of the year. The Mules (1-4) are coming off a win over winless Hamilton last week but their four losses have been by an average of 18.5 points. Meanwhile Bates has been competitive in every game this season. Their losses have come by an average of 12 points, including three one-score defeats this season.

Bates suffered several injuries during last Saturday's loss to Middlebury, and they're carrying over into Week 6. Senior Mike Decina (Hopkinton, Mass.) and sophomore Sean Peterson (Maynard, Mass.) are likely to start at slotback in place of senior Shaun Carroll (Clinton, Maine) and sophomores Frank Williams (Brookline, Mass.) and Mickoy Nichol (Dennis Port, Mass.). First-year wide receiver Marcus Ross (Mansfield, Texas) will also make his first career start in place of senior Lani Eversage (Fairfield, Iowa).

The Particulars:

What: Bates College (0-5) at Colby College (1-4)

When: Saturday, October 31, 1 p.m.

Where: Seaverns Field at Harold Alfond Stadium | Waterville, Maine

Live Coverage: Video

Twitter: @BatesSports | Facebook: Bates College Athletics

All-Time Series: Colby leads 66-44-6

Last Meeting: Bates 34, Colby 28 (OT) (Lewiston, Maine | Oct. 25, 2014) 

Bates Facts & Figures

• The Bobcats are looking to win on the road against the Mules for the first time since 1999.

• The Bobcats' current string of winning or sharing the CBB title four years in a row is their longest since 1897-1900. A fifth straight win or share of the title would be the first time they've accomplished that feat ever. Bates started playing football in 1875. The CBB has been around since 1892, starting out as the "State Series", which included the University of Maine until the conclusion of the 1964 season. Head coach Mark Harriman's seven CBB outright and shared titles are the most in program history. 

• Senior wide receiver Mark Riley (Needham, Mass.) had a career-high 10 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown in Bates' 41-27 loss to Middlebury. Senior quarterback Patrick Dugan (Westford, Mass.) threw for career highs of 217 yards and two touchdowns.

 Junior outside linebacker Ben Coulibaly (Philadelphia, Pa.) had two interceptions in addition to a team-high eight tackles, a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.

 Junior cornerback Brandon Williams (Gardner, Mass.) recorded his fifth interception in the past three games against Middlebury; Williams' five picks lead the NESCAC.

Junior linebacker Mark Upton (Winthrop, Mass.) is tied for third in the conference in tackles per game, with 8.8. Brandon Williams (7.6) is tied for eighth on the list and junior linebacker Sam Francis (Newburyport, Mass.) is 11th (7.4).

 Sophomore kicker Grant DeWald (Duxbury, Mass.) connected on a career-long 34-yard field goal and also made a 26-yarder, scoring nine points on the day.

Colby last week

Colby College's Gabe Harrington threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and the Mules held on for a 24-19 NESCAC win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Hamilton's Steuben Field on Saturday afternoon.

Colby's victory was its first this season as the Mules improved to 1-4 overall and in the conference. Colby held a 17-0 lead midway through the third quarter and then withstood 19 points in 11 minutes by the Continentals.

Harrington was 8 of 12 passing for 116 yards and ran for 34 more. Jabari Hurdle-Price led all players with 103 yards rushing as the Mules finished with 176 yards on the ground on 54 carries. Hurdle-Price also caught a team-high three passes for 28 yards. Seven Colby players caught at least one pass.

Ryan Neville led the Mules' defense with three tackles for loss. Ryan Ruiz recorded a sack and Will Caffey broke up five passes. Colby allowed just 73 rushing yards.

Bates last week

Matt Milano threw for five touchdowns and 405 yards as Middlebury College defeated the injury-depleted Bates College football team 41-27 Saturday at Garcelon Field, despite Bates' season-high 444 yards of offense.

The visiting Panthers (4-1) overcame a 10-7 deficit after one quarter to build leads of 28-13 and 35-20. Despite losing several players to injury during the game, including both starting slotbacks, Bates twice closed within one score in the fourth quarter, to 28-20 and 35-27. But Panther backup quarterback Jared Lebowitz iced the win with a 40-yard touchdown run on a read-option play with 3:38 left to go in the game.

Milano was intercepted three times but completed 31 of 53 passes. Matthew Minno caught 10 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Conrado Banky caught five passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, and Ryan Rizzo caught seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers outgained Bates by a 475-444 margin despite a big edge in time of possession for the Bobcats, 38:10 to 21:50. Bates also had a season-high 23 first downs to Middlebury's 21.

Bates (0-5) rushed for 204 yards and accumulated a season-high 240 yards through the air. Senior quarterback Patrick Dugan (Westford, Mass.) completed 19 of 32 passes for career-highs of 217 yards and two touchdowns, while getting picked off twice. Senior Mark Riley (Needham, Mass.) caught a career-high 10 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore slotback Sean Peterson (Maynard, Mass.), playing in his first career game after missing 1 1/2 seasons to injury, caught four passes for 55 yards.

Teams' last meeting: 

Frank Williams helped tie the game with 33 seconds left in regulation on a 3-yard touchdown catch from Matt Cannone, then scored the game-ending touchdown with a 25-yard reception in the first overtime period, as the Bates football team defeated Colby 34-28 in a wild game before a Homecoming crowd Saturday at Garcelon Field.

Bates (2-4) held Colby (1-5) without a gain on three downs to begin overtime, and the Mules then missed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right, keeping the score at 28-28. Bates took over at the Colby 25 and on 2nd-and-10, Cannone hit a wide-open Williams over the middle inside the 5, and the freshman slotback trotted into the end zone to end the game, sending the crowd into hysteria.

It was the first overtime game for Bates since the 2006 Bates-Colby game in Lewiston, when the Mules prevailed 10-7 in four overtime periods. Bates overcame Colby leads of 14-0 in the first quarter and 21-7 in the third quarter in the win.

Cannone completed 18 of 32 passes for career-highs of 203 yards and four touchdowns for the Bobcats.

Colby quarterback Gabe Harrington also threw four touchdown passes, two each to Ryder Arsenault and Nick Joseph. Both scoring connections with Joseph went for over 50 yards. Harrington completed 13 of 38 passes for 234 yards and was under heavy pressure for much of the second half, throwing while hurried on 11 occasions in the game and getting sacked twice.