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NESCAC heavyweight Trinity rolls over football in home opener

Joe Frake tries to bring down Max Chipouras in Bates' 51-0 loss to Trinity on Sept. 23, 2017. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Trinity College steamrolled the Bates College football team for 31 points in the first quarter and only increased its lead from there, for a 51-0 victory over the Bobcats in their home opener Saturday at Garcelon Field.

The Bantams (2-0), defending NESCAC champions, won their 11th straight game dating to 2015, while Bates fell to 0-2 with its third straight loss.

Trinity opened the game with an 11-play, 55-yard drive culminating in a 22-yard field goal by Eric Sachse. On Bates' third play from scrimmage, from the Bobcat 15-yard line, junior quarterback Sandy Plashkes (Del Mar, Calif.) was hit as he threw a pass into the hands of Trinity's Dominique Seagears, who ran untouched into the end zone for a 10-0 lead just four minutes into the game.

Bates got the ball back and gained seven yards in a three-and-out possession, and John Spears returned junior Justin Foley's (Lynnfield, Mass.) punt 51 yards to the Bates 16. One play later, Max Chipouras scampered into the end zone for a 17-0 lead with 8:54 left in the opening quarter.

Bates fumbled the ball away on its next possession and the Bantams recovered at the Bates 15, setting up another touchdown as quarterback Sonny Puzzo found Cliff David open over the middle for a 24-0 lead with 6:04 left in the first quarter.

Bates freshman Jaason Lopez (Marblehead, Mass.) injected some life into the homecoming crowd with an electric 63-yard kickoff return, setting up the Bobcats on the Trinity 32. But the Bobcats stalled out and turned the ball over on downs at the Trinity 30. The Bantams then drove 70 yards on nine plays for their fourth touchdown of the first quarter, finished off by Puzzo's 17-yard pass to Jonathan Girard.

The second quarter offered no relief to the hosts, as Trinity struck for back-to-back touchdown drives of 63 and 61 yards, respectively. Puzzo connected with Joe Samuelman for a 31-yard score to make it 38-0 midway through the second. The Bantams got the ball back with 3:28 to go in the half and drove 61 yards on three plays: a Bates holding penalty, followed by a 31-yard pass to Koby Schofer and a 20-yard touchdown pass from Puzzo to Dakota Foster for the 45-0 edge at the break. Bates managed only 24 yards of offense in the second quarter.

Trinity tapped the breaks on its offensive onslaught in the second half, using three backup quarterbacks on offense, but the Bantam defense still yielded no points on the scoreboard. With sophomore Matt Golden (New Bedford, Mass.) playing QB in relief of an injured Plashkes, Bates found a modicum of offensive rhythm in the quarter, however, gaining 66 yards on the ground and earning four first downs on two series.

Bates carried the final drive of the third quarter into the fourth quarter, moving the ball from its own 30-yard line to the Trinity 5 as Golden and junior Kyle Flaherty (Litchfield, Maine) rushed for 32 and 22 yards, respectively. On second and goal at the 5, Golden fell on an errant snap, backing the Bobcats up to the 12. On fourth down from the 12, Golden dumped off to sophomore Zach Doyon (Eliot, Maine), who broke two tackles but was stopped inside the 1-yard line, where Trinity took over the ball.

Trinity took over for the final possession of the game with 4:10 remaining in the fourth. Nick Denicola rushed for 18 yards and Brad Whitman hit Luke Letellier for 19 yards as the clock wound down, and on the final play of the game, Whitman completed a screen pass to Matt Laporta for a 9-yard touchdown.

Puzzo finished the game with four touchdown passes and 192 yards, completing 12 of 18 attempts. Chipouras gained 86 yards and a touchdown on 11 rushes. Schofer caught three passes for a team-high 57 receiving yards, while Foster caught three passes for 53 yards and a score. Dago Picon-Roura and Matt McCarthy shared the team lead with seven tackles apiece.

Bates junior defensive back Coy Candelario (Haverhill, Mass.) had a game- and career-high 12 tackles in the contest, including nine solo stops. Sophomore Conner Suraci (North Haven, Conn.) added a career-high nine tackles.

Boyer rushed 15 times for 46 yards for the Bobcats, while Flaherty gained 43 yards on seven carries. Golden netted 33 yards on 14 carries and completed 4-of-8 passes for 33 yards. Senior Tyler Baum (Bernardsville, N.J.), making his first career start at slotback due to the injury of senior captain Frank Williams (Brookline, Mass.), caught three passes for 32 yards.

Bates will stay home next Saturday to host Tufts.