LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College football team did many of the things it needed to do to beat Wesleyan University on Saturday, but the visiting Cardinals capitalized effectively on Bates mistakes, including two fumbles in the final two minutes, to turn a 20-14 fourth-quarter deficit into a 27-20 win at Garcelon Field.
Cardinals (3-1) quarterback Matt Coyne ran for a 20-yard touchdown on a naked bootleg, on 4th and 1 with 52 seconds left in the game, for the deciding score.
Wesleyan running back Shea Dwyer, hot off two straight weeks of breaking the Cardinals' single-game rushing record, netted 169 yards on 33 carries with one touchdown. Coyne rushed for 39 yards and passed for 109 yards. Pete Modera caught three passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard touchdown on a halfback option pass from Kyle Weiss in the third quarter.
The Bates (1-3) defense stuffed Wesleyan on its second to last possession. Wesleyan moved the ball from its own 20 to a first down at the Bates 34, but the Bobcats kept it there, holding Wesleyan without a gain until a harmless 5-yard pass to Ernest Wingate turned the ball over on downs to Bates at its own 29, with the score tied at 20-20 and 1:58 left in the game. But on first down, a botched snap was recovered by Wesleyan's Cyprian Oyomba, giving the Cardinals the ball right back at the Bates 29. Shea Dwyer rushed for seven yards on first down, but an incomplete pass was followed by a 2-yard gain by Dwyer, and Wesleyan faced 4th and 1 at the 20. The Cardinals called timeout, and Bates called its final timeout right after. With Bates' defense stacked in the box, Dwyer found the open space he needed to the left after faking the handoff to Dwyer, and 20 yards later the Cardinals had regained the lead.
Bates had one last chance, starting at its own 32 with 46 seconds left in the game, but junior quarterback Ryan Katon (Durham, Conn.) threw two straight incompletions, then was sacked and stripped of the ball on third and down by Matt Maloney, and the ball was recovered by Mandela Kazi to end the game.
Bolstered by outstanding play from their offensive line, the Bobcats rushed 59 times for 215 yards in the game, Bates' highest rushing total since gaining 262 against Hamilton in the final game of the 2005 season. Five players rushed for between 28 and 51 yards, led by sophomore Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) with 51 yards on 14 carries and sophomore quarterback Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.) with 50 yards on 11 carries. Senior Jared Jammal (Concord, Mass.) scored two touchdowns as part of his 28-yard day, while first-year Shawn Doherty (Mansfield, Mass.) and sophomore Teddy Downs (South Boston, Mass.) gained 38 and 36 yards on the ground, respectively. Bates quarterbacks Smith (6-12, 73 yards, TD) and Katon (2-7, 47 yards) combined for 120 passing yards, including Smith's 15-yard touchdown strike to junior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.), Bates' leading receiver with four catches for 85 yards.
A solid and sound first half for Bates gave the Bobcats a 7-0 lead at halftime, but Wesleyan quickly turned the game upside down at the start of the third quarter. Doherty returned the opening kickoff of the half 27 yards, but fumbled the ball away, and the ball was recovered by Wesleyan's Mike Conrad at the Bates 37. Two plays later, Modera caught a swing pass and rambled through a broken field for 35 yards into the end zone, tying the game at 7-7. Bates senior punter Gavin Segall-Abrams (Greensboro, N.C.) concluded Bates' next possession by sending the ball into the Wesleyan end zone for a touchback, and on the Cardinals' first play of the drive, they caught Bates by surprise with Weiss's halfback option pass, as he rolled right and tossed to Modera down the right sideline for a stunning 80-yard score. Just 3:29 into the third quarter, Wesleyan had taken its first lead at 14-7.
Bates regrouped, however, starting with a 46-yard kickoff return by Doherty that set the Bobcats up in Cardinals' territory at the 46. A 12-yard Smith completion to senior Evan Tierney (Carlisle, Mass.) was followed by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Wesleyan, putting the Bobcats a first down at the Wesleyan 19. Five plays later, Jammal rumbled up the middle for a 2-yard score, his first career touchdown, and Segall-Abrams' kick tied the game back up at 14-14.
The Bates defense forced a three-and-out, and the Bobcats took the ball over at their own 20, where they started their longest drive of the game, a 9-play, 80-yard advance that concluded with a 1-yard Jammal score. The key play in the drive was a sideline grab by Squires of a Katon pass that went for 37 yards, converting a 3rd and 9 from the Bates 48. Two plays later, Doherty took a Katon pitch and scampered 13 yards to within a foot of the goal line, where Jammal punched it in. Segall-Abrams' point-after attempt was blocked, however, keeping the lead at 20-14.
Wesleyan tied the game again with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter, after a botched snap on a Bates punt gave the Cardinals the ball at the Bates 32. On their second play of the possession, Dwyer got to the outside and raced down the right sideline, leaping into the end zone for a 32-yard score. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the ensuing celebration backed the extra-point attempt 15 yards, and Sebastian Aguirre missed the 35-yard attempt to keep the score tied.
Oyomba had a game-high 16 tackles (10 solo) for Wesleyan, while Brett Bandazian added 14 (7 solo). Senior Myles Walker (Needham, Mass.) led Bates with 12 tackles (3 solo), including a forced fumble and a pass breakup, while first-year Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) added a career-high 11 tackles (4 solo).