​​Big Game Hunting! Bobcats Take Down Jumbos 33-10 to Secure First Win on the Season


James Bazzano

The Bobcats got their first win of the season against the Tufts Jumbos on Saturday.

In The Dark Knight (2009), Harvey Dent tells us, “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.” Despite some bright spots, the Bobcat football season thus far has been a dark one. The Bobcats has experienced multiple heartbreaking losses so far this semester, to Amherst, Middlebury, and Wesleyan. 

However, the Bobcats knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The piecemeal progress they made each game crafted a silver lining that was bound to break through the dark cloud that had enveloped the team and its supporters. 

On Saturday, the ‘Cats faced off against a team that was in an equally dark spot. The Tufts University Jumbos were off to an 0-3 start, the program’s worst since 2013. Despite both programs being winless on the year, each had reason to be hopeful. 

The Bobcats had nearly beaten one of the top ranked DIII programs the week prior, and Tufts had beaten the Bobcats in each of their previous six meetings. An epic clash between the two teams was in store as the ‘Cats travelled to Medford, Massachusetts in hopes of securing their first win of the year. 

Bates took the field looking to take advantage of a struggling Tufts defense that graduated eight seniors last year and was currently allowing an average of thirty-three points per game. Brendan Costa ’22, on the other hand, looked to continue the offense of last week’s performance—a game that saw him throw for over three hundred yards. Costa rushed on the first three plays of the drive before connecting with Derek Marino ’22 on a forty-six yard play that put the Bobcats in scoring position. 

Costa’s opening drive marks the second consecutive week in which the Bobcats’ opening drive resulted in a trip to the redzone—a nice change of pace for a team that has historically struggled to score in the first quarter. Simon Redfern ’22 attempted to put the Bobcats out in front with a thirty-two yard field goal, but his attempt was blocked, leaving the ‘Cats walking off the field with nothing. 

First-year Michael Berluti led the Tufts offense onto the field, looking to reverse the Jumbos’ fortunes. Berluti is the third—and youngest—quarterback to start a game for Tufts this season as they looked to capitalize on the special teams’ successful block. However, Berluti’s debut would be spoiled as he fumbled the ball and gave the Bobcats possession in Jumbo territory. 

Bates took over at the Tufts forty-two yard line, hoping to cash in on the turnover. Senior running back Caleb Bolden quickly advanced the ball to the Tufts thirty-one yard line, picking up ten of his twenty-nine yards on the day. Costa then connected with Sean Bryant ’22 three times, the last of which resulted in a twenty-yard touchdown. Unfortunately, the special teams woes continued as Redfern missed the PAT, his second missed kick on the day. 

After the Bobcat touchdown, both teams struggled offensively, trading a pair of three-and-outs, before Berluti had Tufts on the march. The Jumbos, undeterred by the earlier fumble, utilized the ground game well as they rushed the ball seven times while only completing one pass. The strategy seemed to work well as the Bobcats were unable to stop the Jumbos as effectively as they had on previous drives. The drive ended with a thirty-five yard field goal by Patrick Walsh ’23 to cut the Bobcat lead in half. 

If the Jumbo offense had shown a spark in their previous drive, the Bobcats became an inferno. Brendan Costa rushed for thirteen yards before finding tight end Stephen Guerrette ’24 for a twenty-three yard completion. 

Seniors Owen Straley and Tim Simplicio smile for the camera. Straley, a defensive back, scooped up a fumble from Tufts and returned 25 yards for the touchdown. (Havailah Arnold)

Guerrette’s reception was his longest of the year, and more than doubled his season receiving total. The offense continued to roll as Brendan Costa evaded the Tufts defenders on a thirty-yard touchdown run. The Bobcats’ offense reached a level on Saturday that many did not think possible. The ‘Cats moved the ball sixty-six yards in just three plays—an effectiveness not seen thus far on the season. 

After the Tufts offense failed to secure a first down, the Bobcats took over and looked to expand on their lead. Costa, his confidence surging after the previous drive, connected with Christian Olivieri ’22 on a fifty-five yard play that put the Bobcats in the redzone for the third time in a quarter and a half of football. 

After two rushes for three yards, combined with a penalty and an incompletion, Simon Redfern came back on the field looking to add onto the Bobcat lead. Unfortunately, the special teams’ woes continued for the Bobcats as Redfern had his second kick of the day blocked, allowing the Jumbos to escape unscathed once again. 

The teams then traded a series of punts before a Jumbos missed field goal at the end of the half saw Bates take a 13-3 lead into halftime. The three points scored by the Jumbos were the fewest first-half points put up all year by the team. The Bobcat defense was impressive this game, looking to take advantage of a Tufts offense that was clearly still trying to figure things out. 

Tufts began the second half with a strong return by Aundre Smith ’25 that saw the drive start at the Jumbo thirty-two yard line. Berluti then completed a thirty-nine yard pass to Jackson Butler ’23 to put Tufts within scoring range. Thankfully, Bates was able to get a blocked field goal of their own as freshman Finn Duffey squashed Tufts’ hopes of a comeback. 

Senior Wide Receiver Sean Bryant celebrates the Bates win on Saturday. Bryant managed to catch five passes for 91 yards and scored three touchdowns against the winless Jumbos. (Havailah Arnold)

The teams each then turned the ball over, with Costa throwing an interception and Tufts unable to pick up a first down on fourth and four. 

With a little under nine minutes left in the third quarter, the Bobcat offense was once again on the move. Costa found Sean Bryant again, this time resulting in a thirty-two yard touchdown reception. Simon Redfern simply could not catch a break as he had his PAT blocked again, his fourth blocked kick on the day, and the sixth blocked kick/punt in the game. The touchdown put the Bobcats ahead 19-3 with a little over seven minutes left in the quarter. 

The third quarter then saw both teams punt and throw interceptions, dampening some of the excitement that the Tufts crowd had gathered in hopes of seeing the season’s first win. Then, after a short punt by Archie Green ’24 placed Tufts in scoring position, Berluti found Paul Campo ’22 for a thirteen-yard touchdown reception. 

With the score at 19-10 headed into the fourth quarter, both programs knew fifteen minutes of well-played football could propel either team to the finish line. 

The first half of the fourth quarter had fans on the edge of their seats, as both teams’ defenses came up with massive stops to prevent either side from affecting the deficit. After a missed field goal by Tufts, the Bobcats knew victory was in their reach. 

Taking over with 4:13 left in the fourth, Bates would convert a fourth down with a two-yard run by Costa. Four plays later came the third TD reception of the day by Bryant from Costa for a 26-10 Bobcat advantage. Tufts tried a lateral play on its next possession and it backfired as Bates’ Owen Straley scooped up a fumble and went 20 yards for another touchdown crowning the Bobcats’ day with a 33-10 victory over Tufts. 

Costa, recipient of the College Division Gold Helmet Award for the top performance by a New England Division II or III football player this week, had a career day against the Jumbos. 

The quarterback threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 119 yards and another score. Costa’s performance was truly one of the great performances by a Bates quarterback in recent memory, as his senior season begins to heat up. 

Costa and Sean Bryant were quite the tandem on Saturday combining for ninety-one yards and three touchdowns. Bobcat fans will be excited to see what other kind of magic these two can cook up in their final season. 

While Costa certainly shined against the Jumbos, equally impressive was the Bates defense. The Bobcats held Tufts to a season-low seventy-nine yards of rushing, while limiting their opponents to just ten points. 

This performance against the Jumbos represents the true potential of this Bobcat team. With Costa at the helm, a budding crop of underclassmen, and a solid defense behind him, this team has the ability to take the program to new heights. The Bobcats must hope to duplicate this performance next week as they travel to Hartford, CT to take on Trinity. Trinity will be without a doubt the toughest matchup this team will face on the year, but, as Saturday proved, anything is possible. 

When things may seem to be at their worst, there is always an undying belief that things will get better.