It was always going to be difficult for Bates football to improve upon their outstanding, CBB-clinching performance in a 31-0 annihilation of Bowdoin. Unfortunately, despite another quality effort from the defense, the Bobcats ended the season with a 14-0 loss at Hamilton. The team concludes the season at 2-6, tied for sixth in the NESCAC standings with Hamilton, Bowdoin, and Williams.
Following a quiet, scoreless first quarter, Hamilton took control of the game in the second period. First, running back Jason Nastovski completed an eight-play, 43-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown to give the Continentals a 7-0 advantage. They wrapped up the scoring for the quarter (and the game) by recovering a Bates fumble with 3:01 left in the half, seizing a 14-0 lead that Bates never managed to overcome.
The Bates offense’s lowest scoring output for the entire season heading into Saturday was 10 points, yet Hamilton managed to shut them out by neutralizing the Bobcats’ typically potent running game. Bates accumulated just 48 yards on 44 carries, while only managing an additional 56 yards passing from senior quarterback Pat Dugan.
Despite the disappointing finale, Bates achieved some incredible history this season, as the senior class became the first since 1900 to win three CBB titles outright. Dugan (74-144 for 881 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions), running back Shaun Carroll and wide receiver Mark Riley (the team’s top receiver for the second straight season, with 42 catches for 513 yards and two touchdowns) are several seniors that Bates will especially miss come 2016.
Though Bates failed to exceed a .500 record for the third straight season due, in part, to another rough start, the team showed substantial improvement in a number of areas. The Bobcats averaged 170.8 rushing yards per game, up from 141.3 per game in 2014. The running attack was extremely balanced, as five players rushed for over 100 yards on the season, including Carroll and Dugan, junior Ivan Reese, and sophomores Mickoy Nichol and Frank Williams. Don’t be shocked if Williams, who also returns kicks and led the team in all-purpose yards, has a breakout season as a junior.
Bates also made significant positive strides on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 19.8 points per game, down from 21.5 per game last season. Junior linebacker Mark Upton topped the team in tackles again, registering 71 overall, good for second-most in the NESCAC. Fellow junior linebackers Sam Francis and Ben Coulibaly along with sophomore LB Max Breschi should form a formidable unit for the Bobcats next year. A third straight CBB title could be in the cards in 2016.