Football sloppy in win at Bowdoin

Most coaches will tell you they would take an ugly victory to a pretty loss any day. After Saturday’s game against Bowdoin, Head Football Coach Dick Farley will probably agree with them. In a performance that was both dominating and sloppy, the Ephmen rolled over the Bowdoin Polar Bears 24-13 in Brunswick, Maine.

Supplying most of the Ephs’ scoring was fullback Tyler Shea ’04, who rumbled into the end zone for three short second quarter runs, while the Ephs’ defense stood strong for most of the game. However, the Ephs’ four turnovers and inopportune penalties kept the Polar Bears in the game and contributed to the team’s disappointment with its performance.

“A win is a win,” Farley said afterwards. “We didn’t capitalize enough and we turned the ball over too much, but if you had said beforehand, we’d win by two touchdowns, I’d take it.”

The first of Shea’s touchdowns, a three-yard plunge, came early in the second quarter after the Eph defense held the Polar Bears without a first down deep in the Polar Bears’ territory. Starting in Bowdoin territory, the Ephs mixed in runs from both Mike Hackett ’04 and Tim Crawley ’05 and passing from quarterback Joe Reardon ’04 to put Shea in position for his score.

From there, the Ephs played opportunistic football. On the next series, safety John Schneider ’04 intercepted a pass from backup Bowdoin quarterback Tom McMahon and returned it 21 yards to the Polar Bears’ 28-yard line.

The next play, Reardon, who finished the day 24-for-36 with two interceptions, connected with Crawley at the 24-yard line, setting up Shea’s second score two plays later to make the score 14-0.

The defense kept up its ball hawking ways on the next series, as the unit forced a fumble from Bowdoin tailback Rob Patchett that was recovered at the Bowdoin 43. Using the short field again, the Ephs moved down the field, setting up Shea’s third touchdown of the quarter, this time from the two-yard line. The run and the ensuing extra point gave the Ephs a 21-0 lead, a scoring output the Polar Bears never matched.

However, while the Ephs were able to capitalize on mistakes in the first half, their own mistakes marred their second half performance. Two defensive penalties, including a personal foul, assisted the Polar Bears on their touchdown drive at the start of the second half.

The offense had its share of mistakes too, as fumbles by both Crawley and tight end Jon Siff ’05 killed Eph drives in the second half, and a holding penalty inside the Bowdoin 10 forced the Ephs to settle for a Tucker Sawin ’07 field goal in the fourth. While some of the mistakes could be attributed to first game jitters, Coach Farley was not happy about his team’s sloppiness.

“I’m concerned about it, because I don’t think we’re as good as everyone thinks we are,” Farley said. “If we make those mistakes against Trinity, they’re going to punch it in.”

Still, there were many uplifting aspects the coaching staff could draw from the game. Reardon finished with over 300 yards passing despite missing practice time due to an injured hand, and an inexperienced secondary held the Bears under 100 yards passing; new kicker Sawin and punter John Drenckhahn ’07 both performed solidly in their first collegiate games.

However, the road gets significantly harder for the Ephs next week as they travel to Hartford to take on Trinity. Co-NESCAC champions last season, the Bantams not only return a key portion of last year’s team but have brought in transfer players from I-A Virginia and I-AA New Hampshire and come into the game with a 30-6 trashing of Colby under their belts.

“They have a lot more talent than we do, but hopefully it will be a good football game,” Farley said. “We’ll get 22 guys out there. We might have to drag them out of the locker rooms, but we’ll get them out there.”

Barring some sort of forfeit, kickoff is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Trinity.

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