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Football preview: Bates (0-4) visits Wesleyan (3-1) at season's midway point

Bates quarterback Sandy Plashkes, guard Dylan Rasch and the Bobcat offense were held to 132 yards in a 28-7 Wesleyan victory at Garcelon Field on Oct. 15, 2016. (File photo by Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates football team plays the second of back-to-back road games for the only time this season on Saturday, as the Bobcats travel to Wesleyan University for a 1pm kickoff.

The game represents the midway point of the 2017 NESCAC football schedule in its new nine-game format. 

Wesleyan has transformed from a run-heavy offense into a dangerous aerial attack headed by junior quarterback Mark Piccirillo (72.5 completion percentage, 367.2 yards per game, 13 TD, 6 INT). The Cardinals lead the NESCAC in total yards per game (458.5) and passing yards per game (337), as well as third-down conversions (43%) and first downs per game (24.8). Mike Breuler leads the conference far and away in receptions per game (11.5) and receiving yards per game (159.8).

First-year Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) will start at quarterback for Bates for the second straight week. Costa's rough outing at Williams last week included four interceptions, but also an 80-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman Jaason Lopez (Marblehead, Mass.). Costa is Bates' leading rusher at 51.3 yards per game.


THE PARTICULARS:

What: Bates (0-4) at Wesleyan (3-1)

When: Saturday, Oct. 14, 1:00 p.m.

Where: Corwin Stadium (Middletown, Conn.)

Live Coverage: Video | Stats

All-Time Series: Wesleyan leads 31-4

Previous Meeting: Wesleyan 28, Bates 7 (Oct. 15, 2016 in Lewiston, Maine)


Wesleyan Last Week:

Breuler recorded his second 200-yard game this season with 10 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns to help lead Wesleyan to a commanding 41-7 win over Colby College Saturday at Corwin Stadium. Junior quarterback Mark Piccirillo finished 21-of-26 for 324 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran 14 times for 77 yards.

The win marks the third in a row for the Cardinals.

On the Mules' second possession of the game, after stopping the Cardinals twice, the visitors put the first points on the board as running back Jake Schwern ran for a 22-yard TD run. Colby led 7-0 with 8:02 to play in the first quarter.

Later in the first, the Cardinals drove 80 yards on eight plays as Piccirillo found a wide open Hallvard Lundevall for a 22-yard touchdown.

Following another Colby punt, the Cardinals took over with 10:27 remaining in the half. After a penalty negated a 45-yard touchdown, Wesleyan was faced with a 1st-and-25. But Piccirillo capped off the drive with a 20-yard TD score to Brendan Patterson, left wide open in the middle of the field. The Cardinals held a 14-7 lead after halftime.

It was all Wesleyan in the final 30 minutes of action.

After forcing Colby to punt, the Cardinals went 71 yards on nine plays on their first drive of the second half. Dario Highsmith capped it off with an 11-yard TD catch.

Wesleyan's defense forced another three-and-out, and just four players later, Piccirillo tossed one 39 yards in the air to Breuler, who leaped up and snagged the ball over two defenders for the touchdown. The Cardinals took a 28-7 lead with 5:07 remaining in the third quarter.

The Cardinals gained 559 yards of total offense behind 394 yards passing and 165 yards rushing, while holding Colby to just 166 on 111 yards passing and 55 rushing.

Wesleyan was 4-of-9 (44%) on third down conversions, and held the Mules to just 4-of-19 (21%).

Goodwin finished 4-4 for 70 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals' passing game accounted for six total touchdowns to five different receivers.

Bates Last Week:

Williams College racked up 590 yards of total offense on their way to a 47-14 victory over the Bates football team in Williamstown.

Frank Stola had a huge day at receiver for the Ephs (3-1), catching seven passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Bobby Maimaron completed 17 of 24 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Maimaron added 10 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Rashad Morrison tallied a team-high 85 rushing yards and a touchdown while Connor Harris carried the ball 13 times for 83 yards.

The Bobcats totaled 241 yards of offense. Brendan Costa completed six of 12 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, but was also picked off four times on the day. The Ephs won the turnover battle by a count of 4-0. Costa also ran the ball a team-high 13 times for 49 yards.

Junior Sandy Plashkes also saw action at quarterback, carrying the ball five times for 12 yards. Plashkes was 0-2 through the air. Sophomore Matt Golden tallied seven carries for a team-high 80 yards on the ground, filling in at dive back due to injuries.

The game was a close one until the Ephs outscored the Bobcats 23-7 in the third quarter.

Bates went three and out to begin the game and the Ephs marched 65 yards on six plays to take an early 7-0 lead. Maimaron ran the ball in from 15 yards out for a touchdown. 

On the ensuing drive, the Bobcats faced 3rd and 10 from their own 20. Costa connected with Lopez for an 80-yard touchdown reception, the first passing touchdown of the year for Bates and the first passing touchdown of Costa's career.

The Bobcats trailed by 10 at the half but Williams immediately extended the lead to 17 to start the third quarter. Facing second and seven from their own 45, the Ephs struck for their first big play of the afternoon. Maimaron hit Stola in stride for a 55-yard touchdown pass. 

On the ensuing drive, Costa got intercepted for the third time and this time the Ephs converted the turnover into points. Rashad Morrison ran the ball in from 25 yards out on the second play of the Ephs' drive to extend the lead to 31-7 after the extra point.

Costa's fourth interception thrown on the afternoon led to three more points for Williams when Park hit a 33-yard field goal with 8:07 left in the third quarter.

The Bobcats started their next drive at their own seven yard line. Plashkes entered the game and ran the ball for a yard. Then Golden came in and ripped off a 62-yard run, all the way to the Williams 30. Then he ran it 12 more yards down to the Williams 18. After Plashkes ran the ball for four yards to the Williams 14, the Bobcats drew a pass interference call on the Ephs, putting the ball at the 2-yard line. 

Sophomore Zach Doyon took it in from there with a two-yard touchdown run, the first touchdown of his collegiate career. 

Jaelon Moaney returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to the Bates 45 and the Ephs marched down the field again, scoring on a T.J. Dozier four-yard touchdown run. Williams led 40-14 with 2:31 left in the quarter. On the first drive of the fourth quarter, Maimaron found Stola for a 77-yard touchdown reception to cap off the scoring on the afternoon.

Sophomore Jon Lindgren and senior Max Breschi paced the Bobcat defense with 11 tackles each. Jarrett Wesner led the Ephs with nine tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.

Bates' and Wesleyan's Last Meeting:

Devon Carrillo rushed for two touchdowns and set up a third touchdown with a 40-yard punt return, as Wesleyan defeated Bates 28-7 on Oct. 15, 2016 at Garcelon Field.

The visiting Cardinals defeated the Bobcats for the 11th straight year, with a 367-132 difference in total offense, an 18-5 edge in first downs and possession of the ball for over 38 minutes of the game clock. Bates was held to a single first down in the second half, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Sandy Plashkes to Sean Peterson in the third quarter.

Running backs Lou Stevens and Dario Highsmith both rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown in Wesleyan's victory.

Wesleyan possessed the ball for 10 minutes of the first quarter but was held scoreless by a solid Bates defense. The first eight possessions of the game ended in punts.

The Cardinals marched 63 yards starting at their own 19 to start the second quarter, but Bates' Joe Frake forced and recovered a Wesleyan fumble at Bates' 18-yard line. But the Bobcat offense went three and out, and Justin Foley's punt from the Bates 26 was blocked by Eli Blair-May and downed 10 yards upfield at the 36. A false-start penalty on the Cardinals set them back to the 34, but Piccirillo scrambled eight yards to pick up the first down. One play later, Highsmith got through a hole in the line and evaded a tackler on the way to a 26-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead with 6:00 left in the half.

Bates then started out at its own 13-yard line and was forced into another three-play drive. Foley's punt was picked up by Carrillo at the Bates 43, and a big block sprung him loose on the outside. Carrillo then hurdled over Foley and kept on rumbling until he was dragged down by Calvin Johnstone at Bates' 3-yard line. Two plays later, Stevens plunged into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 3:58 left in the first half.

Bates didn't start the second half the way it wanted to. The kickoff was fumbled and recovered by Marquise Scott at the Bates 15, and Zach Doyon was then stopped for a loss on consecutive plays, giving Bates 4th and 17 at its own 7. The punter Foley then mishandled the snap and Wesleyan's Jake Cronin recovered the fumble at the Bates 1-yard line, setting up Carrillo's scoring plunge for a 21-0 Wesleyan lead.

Bates was then held to another three and out, but Wesleyan's second turnover of the game returned the ball to the Bobcats in Cardinal territory. Gernald Hawkins' pass over the middle was picked off by Kevin Claflin and returned 25 yards to the Wesleyan 45, and a personal foul called on Wesleyan tacked 15 more yards on to the play. At 1st and 10 rom the Wesleyan 30, Plashkes hit Peterson in stride as he cross into the end zone for the touchdown, closing the gap to 21-7 with 7:58 left in the third.

Wesleyan responded with its longest drive of the game, picking up 75 yards on 11 plays, including a 35-yard pass from Piccirillo to Andrew Mehr. Carrillo converted a 4th and 1 from the Bates 8-yard line, and on third down at the 1 he plunged in again for his second touchdown and the 28-7 lead, with 3:40 left in the third quarter.

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, trading punts until the Cardinals ran out the game clock in Bates territory.

Piccirillo completed 15-21 passes for 168 yards with no interceptions, while Hawkins completed 5-of-6 passes for 63 yards for Wesleyan. Mike Breuler caught seven passes for 43 yards and Mehr gained 114 yards on four catches.

For Bates, Plashkes completed 8-of-15 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions thrown. Frank Williams rushed for a team-high 34 yards on four attempts. Peterson (2-35) and Noah Stebbins (2-22) had two catches apiece for the Bobcats.