LEWISTON, Maine -- With an emphatic 31-0 victory over Bowdoin on Saturday at Garcelon Field, Bates won the CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) title outright for the second straight year and the third time in four years. It is the Bobcats' first time repeating as outright CBB champion since 1967.
Bates' (2-5) senior class becomes the only one in the modern era, and the first since 1900, to win three CBB titles outright. Bates has also won at least a share of CBB bragging rights for five years in a row and in six of the past seven.
Senior quarterback Patrick Dugan (Westford, Mass.) rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown and passed for 114 yards and a score to lead the Bobcat offense, with senior Mark Riley (Needham, Mass.) catching five passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Dugan posted the most rushing yards by a Bates player since Patrick George rushed for 144 against Hamilton in 2012.
"More than anything, this was a great team effort," said Dugan. "Our coaches put together a great game plan. We knew we were more physical than them -- we pounded the rock, and that opened up other things. The D played their butts off -- I mean, a shutout is unbelievable. It just comes down to a total team effort, and it's a great day to be a Bobcat."
Bates' defense pressured and roughed up Bowdoin quarterback Noah Nelson all game long, totaling three sacks and limiting him to 21 completions on 54 pass attempts, with two interceptions. Bowdoin's running game was stuffed to a net of minus-6 yards on 14 attempts in the game.
"Our defense has been coming together as guys have started to jell, and they played with a lot of emotion. I look at that was probably the biggest factor [in Bates' recent defensive success]," said head coach Mark Harriman.
Daniel Barone caught nine passes for 71 yards and Nick Vailas had eight catches for 66 yards for the Polar Bears.
Bates junior cornerback Trevor Lyons (Hamilton, Mass.) returned his fourth interception of the season for 50 yards and a touchdown, his second pick-six in as many weeks, to open up a 24-0 lead in the third quarter.
Bates outgained Bowdoin 380-174, possessed the ball for 38:11 to Bowdoin's 21:49 and won the turnover battle 3-0.
After Bowdoin's offense was held to one first down in its first three series, Bates started its first scoring drive at the Bowdoin 38. The Bobcats took seven plays from there to reach the end zone, with Dugan trotting in untouched from 7 yards out for his first career rushing touchdown.
Bates began its second scoring march at the end of the first quarter, starting from its own 20. Dugan hit Riley for 17 yards to convert a 3rd and 4, followed two plays later by a 25-yard Dugan run up the middle. From the Bowdoin 27, Dugan then dropped a beautiful pass to Riley, running a fly pattern, over the reach of Riley's defender and in stride for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
"Riley is Riley -- I mean, he's going to beat the guy off the line, and I know he's going to be there," said Dugan. "I just put the ball up there and he made a play on it. That's how we practice it, so it was great to be able to execute it in this game."
Bowdoin started its lengthiest drive of the game at its own 11. Nelson hit Barone for 90 yards to convert a 4th and 1, and the Polar Bears advanced 14 yards to the Bates 35 with a 14-yard catch by Vailas. A 10-yard out to Barone put Bowdoin at the Bates 25, but on third down, Nelson's pass over the middle was picked off by Bates freshman safety Joe Frake (Windham, N.H.) with 2:13 to go in the half.
Bates made it 17-0 on the first series of the second half, driving from its own 25 to the Bowdoin 8 before setting for a 25-yard field goal by sophomore Grant DeWald (Duxbury, Mass.).
Two plays later, Bates all but put the game out of reach. With Nelson throwing from the Bowdoin 44, Lyons jumped the receiver's route, catching the ball at midfield and racing untouched up the sideline to give Bates a 24-0 lead with 8:56 still to go in the third quarter.
"We knew they liked the quick stuff, just like Colby did last week," said Lyons. "I saw the QB looking that way and read it, and I was playing aggressive and jumped it.
"It was a full team effort today -- the D-line got pressure, the linebackers stopped the run, and the secondary locked down the pass. We knew it was going to be a physical game, and we came out and conquered."
The fourth quarter featured a slew of Bates reserves playing, including two freshman quarterbacks, Sandy Plashkes (Del Mar, Calif.) and Tyler Baum (Bernardsville, N.J.), both taking their first snaps from scrimmage and notching 3-yard rushes.
Bates' first possession of the final quarter took up 17 plays to advance 66 yards and ended in the first career touchdown for freshman running back Peter Boyer (Dover-Foxcroft, Maine), a 1-yard plunge with 5:17 to go. Boyer had his second carry of the game when Bates reached the 50, and went on to tote the ball eight times for 38 yards on the series, including one of the game's most cheer-inspiring plays, a multiple-tackle-breaking 17-yard carry.
Bates junior cornerback Brandon Williams (Gardner, Mass.) led the Bobcats in tackles with eight, while Lyons had six tackles, the interception and two pass breakups. Junior Mark Upton (Winthrop, Mass.) had five tackles, including a sack and forced fumble, and four quarterback hurries. Sophomores Max Breschi (Carlisle, Pa.) and Jack Maritz (St. Louis, Mo.) also tallied sacks.
Henry Little had a game-high 12 tackles for Bowdoin, while Branden Morin had 11 and Cameron Rondeau added 10.
The victory represented Bates' first shutout win since 2002, and its first against Bowdoin since 1989.
Bates looks to finish the season with a three-game winning streak next Saturday at Hamilton, with kickoff at noon.