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Explosive plays lead football to 29-17 win over Williams on Back to Bates Weekend

Frank Williams turned in a monster performance, catching a career-high nine passes for a spectacular 223 yards and three touchdowns in the Bobcats' 29-17 win over the Williams College Ephs on Back to Bates weekend at Garcelon Field. (Josh Kuckens/Bates College)  

LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates junior slotback Frank Williams had nine receptions for 223 yards and three touchdowns while the Bobcat defense sacked the quarterback seven times, leading to a 29-17 win over Williams College Saturday afternoon at Garcelon Field.

The victory marks the fifth time in the last six years the Bobcats (1-2) have defeated the Ephs (0-3) on the gridiron.

In front of a crowd of more than 3,000 fans for the Back to Bates Homecoming game, Williams (Brookline, Mass.) shined, accumulating career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns, including a career-long reception of 73 yards in the victory. Entering the game, Williams had 214 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in his entire career.  

Sophomore quarterback Sandy Plashkes (Del Mar, Calif.) also set career highs by completing 10 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns.

Despite the double-digit victory, it was a back-and-forth affair during the first half of action. The Ephs struck first on the opening drive of the game.

Facing 3rd and 9 on their own 26, quarterback Jansen Durham found Jaelon Moaney for a 20-yard connection and an Ephs first down. They then advanced the ball into Bates territory and on 2nd and 11 from the Bobcat 40, Durham found Kellen Hatheway streaking down the middle of the field for a 40-yard touchdown pass. The extra point gave the Ephs a 7-0 lead with 12:23 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bates offense got off to a slow start. But a huge turnover allowed them to tie things up.

With about eight minutes remaining in the quarter, Bates punter Justin Foley '19 (Lynnfield, Mass.) unleashed a 55-yard boot. Moaney let the ball bounce at around the 5-yard line. When he tried to then secure the ball, he bobbled it and was hit hard by junior Mickoy Nichol (Dennis Port, Mass.). The ball bounced away and senior captain Trevor Lyons (South Hamilton, Mass.) pounced on it, setting up 1st and goal for the Bobcats at the Ephs' 4-yard line.

Two plays later, Plashkes found Williams on a swing route for his first receiving touchdown of the game. Junior kicker Grant DeWald (Duxbury, Mass.) made the extra point to tie the game at seven with 6:45 to go in the first quarter.

The teams traded punts and the Ephs got the ball back with 4:23 remaining in the quarter on their own 15-yard line. 

After a pair of Connor Harris rushes gave them a first down at their own 27, sophomore Joe Frake (Windham, N.H.) and junior Collin Richardson (Kensington, N.H.) teamed up to sack Durham back to his own 19.

Despite the setback, Durham was able to get the ball into Bates territory thanks in large part to two Adam Regensburg receptions, one of which went for 23 yards.

The Bobcat defense did not break though, forcing a punt with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.

Neither team had much success on offense early in the second quarter, and a big play on defense gave the Ephs their second lead of the game.

With 7:53 left in the half, Bates got great field position after a punt at the Ephs' 42-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Plashkes connected with Williams for a gain of 28 yards, all the way down to the 14.

But Ben Anthony picked up a bad pitch on the very next play and returned the ball 80 yards for a touchdown. The extra point made the score 14-7 in favor of the Ephs with 7:03 left in the half.

The Bobcats did not waste any time responding in a big way.

After the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, Bates took over at its own 35. After a couple of rushes netted only two yards, the Bobcats unleashed Frank Williams.

Plashkes found the junior slotback uncovered on the right side, and Williams ran the remaining 50 yards or so untouched for a 63-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good but the touchdown trimmed the deficit to 14-13 with 5:47 left until halftime.

Down by one, Bates forced another crucial turnover. 

On the first play from scrimmage, Harris was stuffed by senior Kentavius Dumas (Atlanta, Ga.) for a loss of four yards. The Ephs called timeout with 4:55 left. Then out of the timeout, Durham was picked off by a diving Frake, giving the Bobcats the ball at the Ephs' 27-yard line with 4:50 remaining.

Senior dive back Tyler Janssen (Glastonbury, Conn.) plowed through the Williams defense three straight times to give Bates 1st and 10 at the Williams' 17-yard line.

The Bobcats called timeout and out of the timeout Plashkes found sophomore Marcus Ross (Mansfield, Texas) in the back corner of the end zone on a fade route. Ross made the catch of the year, keeping his feet inbounds while going up to get the ball in tight coverage for his second career touchdown reception.

The two-point conversion attempt failed but Bates had their first lead of the game: 19-14 with 3:34 left in the second quarter.

They did not trail again.

The Ephs did cut the Bates lead to two early in the third quarter thanks to a 38-yard field goal off the leg of Regensburg after a 47-yard punt return by Harris, trimming the margin to 19-17 in favor of the Bobcats.

On the ensuing drive, the Bobcats faced 3rd and 7 at their own 27-yard line. 

That's when Plashkes threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day, connecting with Frank Williams yet again. Williams outjumped a defender while racing toward the left sideline, eluded a tackler and then raced diagonally through an open lane all the way to the right pylon, for his third touchdown reception of the afternoon, this one a career-long 73 yarder. Bates extended the lead to 26-17 with 11:26 left in the third quarter after the extra point.

The nine-point lead allowed the Bobcat defense to pin their ears back and attack the quarterback all second half in the backfield.

The Ephs had a drive going after the Frank Williams touchdown, but on 2nd and 6 at the Bates26, Durham was sacked by sophomore Tyler Harrington (Haverhill, Mass.) and first-year James Hussey (Quincy, Mass.). Two plays later, the Ephs turned it over on downs.

Although the Bobcats did not get much going on their next drive, forcing Foley to punt, their defense stepped up again. The Ephs took over on their own 18, and on 3rd and 7 from their own 21, Durham was sacked by Richardson for the second time on the afternoon.

With 5:47 left in the third quarter, Bates started their next drive at midfield. A defensive holding call gave them the ball at the Ephs' 40 and Plashkes took advantage of the free yards by scampering 27 yards on the next play all the way down to the 13-yard line.

Although a couple rushes and an incomplete pass did not get them much further, DeWald drilled a 26-yard field goal to extend the lead to 29-17.

The Ephs went three-and-out on three straight drives after that. On the last play of the third quarter, the Bates defense got another combined sack, this time from Harrington and Dumas.

Then on the first play of the fourth quarter, it was Lyons' turn as the safety picked up a sack on a blitz to force a punt. 

With 7:01 to go in the game, the Ephs started to put together a little bit of a drive, taking the ball to the Bates' 48 on a Durham 17-yard scamper on fourth down. 

He gained three yards on the next play before being sacked by senior Sam Francis (Newburyport, Mass.) for a loss of eight yards. The Ephs called timeout with 5:04 left in the contest. Durham's next pass fell incomplete and on fourth down he was sacked for a loss of 12 by sophomore Walter Washington (Rockland, N.Y.), the first sack of Washington's college career.

Bates got the ball back with 4:51 left in regulation and proceeded to run out the clock behind the tough running of sophomore Peter Boyer (Dover-Foxcroft, Maine) and senior Ryan Spillane (Medfield, Mass.). 

The Bobcats outgained the Ephs in total offense 347 yards to 207. Bates averaged 10 yards per pass play while the Ephs only managed 3.6 yards per pass play. 

The Bobcats tallied an impressive seven sacks on the day on defense and held the Ephs to only one offensive touchdown.

Harris led all players in rushing, carrying the ball 24 times for 103 yards, with a long run of 23 yards. Durham completed 15-34 passes for 132 yards, finishing with one touchdown and an interception. Regensburg was his favorite target, catching five balls for 54 yards while Hatheway notched two catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Ephs linebacker Russell Monyette led all players in tackles with 13 (six solo stops) and Francis led the Bobcats with 11 tackles of his own (three solo stops). Senior captain Mark Upton (Winthrop, Mass.) also finished in double figures with 10 tackles (five solo, one for loss) on the day. 

Bates tallied an impressive 14 tackles for loss, doubling the Ephs' total.

The Bobcats are back home next Saturday when they welcome Wesleyan (2-1) to town for a 1:00 p.m. kick at Garcelon Field.