Football stumbles against Bates 19-12

Connor Harris ’18 had 116 kick return yards on Saturday.
Connor Harris ’18 had 116 kick return yards on Saturday.

In a game characterized by a battle for field position between two punters, football (1-2) lost to Bates by a score of 19-12. Both teams committed two turnovers and incurred untimely penalties in an all-around sloppy game.

Bates struck first, utilizing their triple-option attack to construct a staggering 17-play drive early in the game. The Eph defense almost stalled the drive in the red zone, but jumped offside on a fourth-down try, allowing the Bobcats to score on the very next play. Bates missed the extra point to leave the score at 6-0. The next drive for the Ephs was marred by an interception, but the defense bailed the offense out forcing a three-and-out.

After a series of nice punts from both teams that left the opposition pinned inside their own 20-yard lines, the Ephs’ offense finally struck. The drive started with a 40-yard bomb from quarterback Austin Lommen ’16 to wide-out Steven Kiesel ’15. Tri-captain Alex Scyocurka ’15 kept things rolling with a third-down run for 11 yards. Emerging playmaker Lewis Hayes ’17 caught a screen pass to set up a Scyocurka touchdown run. The score was deadlocked at 6-6 with a little over six minutes left in the half after the Ephs missed the extra point try due to a high snap.

Things really started going the Ephs’ way when the Bobcats mishandled an option toss allowing Jack Ryan ’16 to recover the fumble, giving the men possession with great field position. With the favorable field position the Ephs quickly scored after a 27-yard pass to Alex Way ’16 set up another short Scyocurka touchdown run. The Ephs’ extra point woes continued, leaving the score at 12-6 after yet another botched try.

After trading punts, the Ephs had a chance to take control of the game. Bates fumbled after mishandling the handoff exchange in its own territory. Instead of making Bates pay for its mistake, the Williams offense faltered, throwing another interception. After the interception Bates marched down the field with a few passes, gaining the 13-12 lead after making the extra point. The Ephs proceeded to end the half by kneeling.

Six punts and zero points marked the third quarter. Punter Joe Mallock ’15 punted exceptionally well, landing four of six punts inside the Bates’ 20-yard line. Connor Harris ’18 also made a special teams mark averaging nearly 40 yards per kickoff return.

Colin Brown ’16 had a breakout game with 69 yards receiving, including a 34-yard pass from Lommen that moved the Ephs into the red zone. However, the Ephs were stopped following an illegal substitution penalty and had to settle for a 43-yard field goal attempt. The kick was blocked leaving the Ephs trailing 13-12.

Bates proceeded to put together a backbreaking drive, this time a 14-play, 85-yard march. This drive put Bates up for good, leaving the score at 19-12 after yet another extra point was missed. The Ephs forced a third-and-15; however, they gave up a 52-yard strike through the air that set up a two-yard touchdown plunge with only 2:28 left in the game.

The Ephs successfully moved the ball all the way to the Bates’ 31-yard line late in the fourth quarter. However, the Bobcats held strong and defended passes on both third and fourth downs, essentially ending the Ephs’ chances of pulling out the win.

“On offense we couldn’t make plays when we needed them,” tri-captain Alan Felix ’15 said. “Defense and special teams put us in a position to close the game out on a number of drives, but we couldn’t quite get it done. Middlebury presents a huge challenge to us. They’re an athletic team with a game plan that plays to their strengths. We have to get back to work.”

The victory for Bates marks just their fifth win in history over Williams. However, it is the Bobcats’ fourth-straight victory over the Ephs. The men will next take the field and face off against Middlebury at home this Saturday at 2 p.m.