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Bobcats run past Colby 27-24 in CBB opener

Mickoy Nichol had career-highs with five catches for 62 yards and also rushed for 19 yards and a touchdown in Bates' 27-24 victory at Colby on Oct. 28, 2017. (Dean Denis/Courtesy of Colby College)

WATERVILLE, Maine -- First-year quarterback Brendan Costa led the Bates football team to a 27-24 victory at Colby Saturday afternoon, putting the Bobcats halfway to capturing a fourth consecutive CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) title with their first win of the season.

Costa (Westport, Mass.) rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, and put the Bobcats ahead for good with a 52-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Brian Daly (Marblehead, Mass.) with 10:41 left. The rookie sensation lifted his average to 101.7 rushing yards per game, second-highest in the NESCAC. Costa also completed 11 of 20 passes for 136 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Bates rushed for a season-high 308 yards rushing and totaled 444 yards of offense, and limited Colby to 279 yards. Bates established season-bests in third-down efficiency (9 of 20, 45%) and first downs (23, including 19 by rushing).

Bates (1-6) will play host to Bowdoin (0-7) next Saturday at 12:30pm in their home finale. A Bates victory would represent the first time in the program's 123-year history that Bates defeated both Colby and Bowdoin for four consecutive years.

The Bobcats never trailed in the game and took a 7-0 lead on a 30-yard scoring run by Costa with 6:15 left in the opening quarter.

The Mules bounced right back thanks to some Bates penalties. The Bobcats were called for a roughing the kicker penalty on Colby punter John Baron to keep the drive alive, and that was followed by a 15-yard penalty. Mule quarterback Jack O'Brien hit Mark Snyder on a 5-yard scoring pass to the left side of the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Bates senior Max Breschi (Carlisle, Pa.) picked off O'Brien with just 1:16 left to halftime. Bates' offense drove 31 yards on seven plays to get a 29-yard field goal from senior Grant DeWald (Duxbury, Mass.) at the horn for a 10-7 lead.

The Mules tied the game at 10-10 on Baron's 31-yard field goal with 9:32 left in the third quarter. Colby running back Jake Schwern caught a 45-yard pass from O'Brien on the drive.

Bates junior Joe Frake (Windham, N.H.) jumped a route and picked off O'Brien at the Bates 19, and the Bobcats went 81 yards to go up 17-10 with just 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Senior Mickoy Nichol's (Dennis Port, Mass.) 4-yard scoring run to the left side scored the points, but Costa had the big plays on the drive with runs of 35 and 22 yards.

But Colby tied the game for the third time at 17-17 on O'Brien's 30-yard run with 11:18 to play. The Mules were in a 4th-and-1 situation at the Bobcat 30 when O'Brien ran left and made a nice cutback to find open room.

Bates went ahead for good and quieted Colby's Family Homecoming Weekend crowd with a touchdown just 39 seconds after the Mules' touchdown. The Bobcats got a 16-yard run from senior captain Frank Williams (Brookline, Mass.) on the first play. Costa then found a wide-open Daly, running straight up the middle, for a 52-yard scoring pass for a 24-17 margin.

The Bobcats took a 27-17 lead after an 18-yard field goal by DeWald with 5:31 to play. The Bobcats drove 30 yards after sophomore Conner Suraci (North Haven, Conn.) forced a fumble and junior Chase Fulton (Benecia, Calif.) recovered for Bates at the Colby 31-yard line.

Schwern almost singlehandedly kept the Mules in contention, blocking a punt and racing 28 yards to the Bobcat 3-yard line with the return, then punching it in from 2 yards out.

The Mules forced a punt and took over at their own 35-yard line with 1:21 remaining. After a 14-yard rush by O'Brien to the Colby 49-yard line, the Mules had three straight incomplete passes to set up a fourth-down play. Colby completed a pass, but was short of the first down.

O'Brien had 182 yards passing and 83 yards rushing for Colby. Colby linebacker Sebastien Philemon had a game-high 19 tackles.

Nichol had career-highs with five catches for 62 yards and also rushed for 19 yards and a touchdown, while Williams rushed six times for a season-high 60 yards. Junior Kyle Flaherty (Litchfield, Maine) and sophomore Matt Golden (New Bedford, Mass.) split time at diveback with 10 carries apiece for 28 and 33 yards, respectively.

Frake, Breschi, and sophomore safety Jon Lindgren (Plainville, Conn.) all had seven tackles for the Bobcats, in addition to the interceptions by Frake and Breschi.

Colby linebacker Sebastien Philemon had a collegiate-high 19 tackles, while Nick Strand also had a collegiate-high 15 stops.