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Bobcats fall 43-14 to Middlebury

Brendan Costa rushed for 131 yards and passed for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Bates' loss to Middlebury on Oct. 21, 2017. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Senior quarterback Jared Lebowitz was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with an injury, but it didn't stop Middlebury in its 43-14 victory over the Bates football team Saturday at Garcelon Field.

Bates (0-6) lost the turnover battle 3-0 and allowed over 500 yards of offense (530) for the third straight game. Middlebury (5-1) rebounded from its lone loss of the season last week at Williams.

On Middlebury's first series of the second quarter, facing 3rd and 14 from the Panther 11-yard line, Lebowitz scrambled 26 yards to the 37, where he was hit hard by Bates junior down safety Joe Frake (Windham, N.H.). Both players were slow to get up, and Lebowitz remained out of the game the rest of the way, after completing 12 of 18 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

Backup quarterback Jack Meservy came on and completed 13 of 22 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown as the second of four signal-callers to play for the Panthers. Ten Middlebury receivers caught passes in the game.

Colin Waters also saw action at quarterback for Middlebury, and fourth-string QB Will Jernigan got loose for a 55-yard touchdown run with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter for a 43-7 Middlebury lead.

Bates first-year quarterback Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) completed 13 of 24 passes -- the first time this season the Bobcats have completed over half of their pass attempts -- for 141 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Costa also ran for 131 yards on 28 carries, giving him 301 rushing yards in the past two games.

Middlebury drove 64 yards on five plays on the first series of the game, including a 48-yard pass from Lebowitz to Maxwell Rye that took the Panthers to the Bates 1-yard line. Lebowitz threw a short toss to Maxim Bochman for a 1-yard score and a 7-0 lead 95 seconds into the game.

Bates' offense started off with a three-and-out, and junior Justin Foley's (Lynnfield, Mass.) 52-yard punt gave Middlebury the ball at its own 25. The Panthers then marched 73 yards on 12 plays to the Bates 2, but an incompletion on fourth down turned the ball back to the Bobcats.

Bates moved the ball up to its own 37 before punting, and the Panthers mounted another big drive, covering 79 yards on nine plays. Peter Scibilia picked up seven yards on a 3rd and 1 to keep the drive alive, and Lebowitz capped the drive with an 11-yard strike to Tanner Contois to make it 14-0.

Bates was held to a three-and-out to start the second quarter, and Middlebury took over at its 15. Lebowitz's 26-yard scramble kept the drive alive and brought the Panthers to their 37. And on 3rd and 3 from the Middlebury 44, Meservy's first pass of the game found a wide-open Jimmy Martinez for a 56-yard score and a 20-0 lead after a failed point-after.

Bates then turned the ball over for the first time as senior slotback Mickoy Nichol (Dennis Port, Mass.) ran into Matthew Daniel and fumbled after catching a screen pass from Costa, giving Middlebury the ball at the Bates 35. Meservy completed to Bochman to convert a 3rd and 5 at the Bates 13, and on the next play Scibiilia ran it in from 7 yards out to make it 27-0.

Bates got going on its final possession of the half, after a 16-yard punt return by senior slotback Frank Williams (Brookline, Mass.) started the Bobcat drive on the Middlebury 47. Costa completed to first-year slotback Jaason Lopez (Marblehead, Mass.) for 14 yards and to Nichol for 25 more, putting the Bobcats at the Middlebury 4. Middlebury's John Jackson threw Nichol for a three-yard loss, but on 3rd and goal Costa threw to a wide-open junior Marcus Ross (Mansfield, Texas) for a 7-yard score, putting Bates on the board at 27-7.

Middlebury added 10 points to its lead in the third quarter. The Panthers' first series of the quarter started at the Middlebury 12-yard line, and the Panthers took 10 plays to march the 88 yards for their fifth touchdown of the game, a 4-yard run by Scibilia. Meservy had completions of 11 yards to Rye, 12 to Frank Cosolito and 25 yards to Jimmy Connell along the way. Later in the quarter, Costa was picked off by Daniel at the Bates 37, and nine plays later Carter Masengill made a 28-yard field goal for a 36-7 lead.

Jernigan scampered for the 55-yard touchdown on his first snap of the game with 5:18 to go in the fourth quarter, giving Middlebury a 43-7 lead. Bates then drove for its second touchdown of the game, moving 58 yards on eight plays. On first down from the Middlebury 16, Costa scrambled to his right and led Lopez with a soft pass over the reach of a Middlebury defender. Lopez ran under the ball to make the catch and run it in for the final 5 yards, giving him a touchdown reception in three straight games.

Frake led Bates' defense with 12 tackles (three solo), including a half sack, and one pass breakup. Junior Chase Fulton (Benecia, Calif.) added nine tackles (6 solo). Sophomore free safety Jon Lindgren (Plainville, Conn.) made seven tackles and broke up two passes, and first-year cornerback Devin Clyburn (New York, N.Y.) made six tackles (5 solo) in his first start.

Bates plays at Colby (0-6) next Saturday at 1pm, beginning its quest for a fourth straight outright Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) championship.