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Hamilton's big second half trips up football in season finale, 24-7

Senior captain Mark Upton is introduced with parents Larry and Lins prior to Bates' Senior Day game against Hamilton on Nov. 12, 2016. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College) 

LEWISTON, Maine -- Using a balanced attack on offense and some big plays on defense, the Hamilton Continentals scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Bates football team by a score of 24-7 Saturday afternoon in the season finale for both programs. 

The Continentals (3-5) out-gained the Bobcats (3-5) 309-167 on the day, with 165 passing yards and 144 rushing yards. Bates also rushed for 144 yards but only managed 23 yards through the air. 

Neither team scored in the first quarter of action. Bates got the ball to begin the game and picked up a first down on a pair of runs by first-year Matt Golden. Golden (New Bedford, Mass.), starting at quarterback in place of injured sophomore Sandy Plashkes (Del Mar, Calif.), finished the game with 24 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. 

But the drive stalled after that and the teams traded punts until Hamilton got on the board first in the second quarter. 

After starting their drive at the Bates 24 with 4:13 to go in the first quarter, the Continentals drove down the field on a 13-play, 76-yard drive. Facing 4th and 1 at the Bates 24, Hamilton running back Marcus Gutierrez plunged forward for the first down. Gutierrez ran the ball 29 times for a career-high 118 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon.

After a holding call set up 2nd and 19 at the Bates 29, Hamilton quarterback Kenny Gray was able to run the ball 15 yards to the Bates 14-yard line. 

Then on the next play he connected with Jordan Jenkins for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The extra point put the Continentals up 7-0 with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter.

After the teams traded punts, the Bobcats responded with a long touchdown drive of their own. Starting at their own 23-yard line, Bates marched 77 yards on 19 plays while taking seven minutes and 26 seconds off the clock.

Junior slotback Sean Peterson (Maynard, Mass.), senior dive back Tyler Janssen (Glastonbury, Conn.), senior dive back Ryan Spillane (Medfield, Mass.) and junior slotback Frank Williams (Brookline, Mass.) all contributed tough rushing yards as Bates did not complete a pass on the drive.

But Golden contributed most of the legwork, once running the ball four consecutive plays to get Bates to the Hamilton 31-yard line.

After Janssen moved the chains with a six-yard run, a big unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Hamilton gave Bates the ball at the Hamilton 20.

Golden ran for nine more yards down to the 11 and a seven-yard sprint pushed the Bobcats to the four-yard line.

It took a few tries but Bates finally punched it in on a one-yard Golden keeper, the second rushing touchdown of his career. Junior kicker Grant DeWald (Duxbury, Mass.) made the extra point, tying the game at seven with 2:08 to go in the first half.

The Bobcats came up with a big play on defense on the ensuing Hamilton drive. On 3rd and 10 at the Hamilton 27, senior captain Trevor Lyons (South Hamilton, Mass.) intercepted Gray's pass deep down the field, returning the ball to the Hamilton 41.

But Hamilton's James Taylor returned the favor, picking off Golden on the first play from scrimmage after the Lyons interception.

The teams finished the first half tied at seven, and the game remained tied for most of the third quarter.

But the Continentals used a 12-play, 86-yard drive to score the go-ahead touchdown. The drive took more than six minutes off the clock and Gutierrez capped it off with a six-yard run to give Hamilton a 14-7 lead with 3:30 left in the third.

Down by one score entering the fourth quarter, the Bobcats simply could not get anything going on offense as they failed to pick up a first down in the final quarter of action.

But Hamilton got their offense going again, driving for a field goal with 9:04 left in the contest. The 11-play 44-yard drive included a 20-yard strike to Joe Schmidt, who finished with a game-high five catches for a game-high 94 yards. Facing 4th and 14 at the Bates 24, Robert Morris drilled a 41-yard kick to extend their lead to 17-7.

Then on the ensuing drive, Colby Jones basically killed any hopes Bates had for a comeback, picking off a Golden pass and returning the ball all the way down to the Bobcat nine-yard line.

Gutierrez ran the ball twice after the turnover, once for eight yards and the other for one yard and his second touchdown of the game.

Down 24-7 with 7:33 to go in the game, Bates was forced to punt after less than a minute on their next drive and the Continentals proceeded to kill nearly five minutes on their next possession.

Their drive ended thanks to a tackle for loss by senior captain Mark Upton (Winthrop, Mass.), the final tackle of his outstanding collegiate career. Upton finished the game tied with fellow senior Sam Francis (Newburyport, Mass.) with nine tackles, including a team-high six solo stops, two tackles for loss, and one sack for Upton. 

Upton finishes his career at Bates with 272 total tackles, including a career-high 87 this season. 

Bates got the ball one more time but the Bobcats had no luck moving the ball once again against Hamilton's defense.

Bates honored 12 seniors before the game on Senior Day at Garcelon Field. This year's senior class includes: Francis, Janssen, Lyons, Spillane, Upton, Sean Antonuccio (Boxford, Mass.), Kentavius Dumas (Atlanta, Ga.), James Fagan (Lynnfield, Mass.), Mitch Hildreth (Needham, Mass.), Ivan Reese (Savannah, Ga.), Andrew Segal (Glencoe, Ill.) and Brandon Williams (Gardner, Mass.).

This year's senior class is the first senior class since 1931 to win three consecutive outright CBB series crowns.