Just as they did in their season-opening defeat to Amherst, Bates took an early lead in Saturday afternoon’s Homecoming game against Tufts. And though they kept that advantage until early in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats were stopped on a crucial 4th and goal play at the one-yard line with 6:25 remaining, as Tufts ultimately held on for a 17-16 win.
Bates’ performance was a substantial improvement from their 37-14 loss in Week 1. The defense was much more effective against the run, limiting Tufts to 60 yards rushing. They were especially stout on third down, as Tufts converted only one of their 14 third-down chances. Sophomore defensive back Andrew Jenkelunas led the team with his second consecutive 10-tackle game. On the offensive side, Bates ran for a total of 188 yards, including a career-high 71 yards rushing by sophomore Frank Williams, who scored Bates’ first touchdown on a one-yard carry late in the first quarter. Senior wide receiver Mark Riley again led Bates with six catches, while sophomore Mickoy Nichol snagged a ball from quarterback Pat Dugan ’16 and broke a couple tackles on his way to a 31-yard touchdown. At that point, in the middle of the second quarter, Bates led 14-0.
Tufts elevated their level of play in the second half, with quarterback Alex Snyder connecting on touchdown passes of 45 and 27 yards to receiver Jack Cooleen. Besides giving up the long ball, Bates’ chances were also hurt by losing the turnover battle 3-0 (two lost fumbles and one interception) and registering nine penalties. After Tufts’ struggling special teams unit managed to make a 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, Bates trailed for the first time. A wayward snap on a punt attempt that flew into the end zone trimmed the deficit to one point, but an ensuing goal-line stand by the Tufts defense stopped a promising 11-play drive by the Bates offense. Though the Bobcat D stood strong to force the Jumbos to punt, a last-ditch final drive fell short, and Bates turned it over on downs.
Junior linebacker Mark Upton commented, “While it was a tough loss, we’re looking ahead to do whatever we can to beat Williams next weekend. There were flaws in our game this week, but we’ve improved a ton on both sides of the ball since the first game against Amherst. We’re looking to keep this momentum going and put it all together this coming Saturday.”
This weekend’s game against Williams, who lost their last contest to Tufts 24-0, is Bates’ first road game. If the team continues their upward trend, they should be able to pick up their first win of the season.