WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Bates College football team defeated Williams College 35-26 today at Weston Field, the Bobcats' second-ever win over the NESCAC rival Ephs and the first since 2003.
Bates (2-1) has won consecutive games for the first time since the 2002 season, and is off to its best start after three games since 1982.
Williams, which went 8-0 last season, including a 41-0 win at Bates in Week 3, dropped to 1-2 with its second straight loss.
Junior Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.) passed for two first-quarter touchdowns to senior John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) for a quick 14-0 lead that the Ephs (1-2) could never surmount. Junior Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) ran an interception back 26 yards for a third touchdown after the Ephs had notched their first score.
Sophomore slotback Ryan Curit (South Portland, Maine) had the biggest day of his career thus far, carrying the ball 11 times for 102 yards and a score, and also catching three passes for 22 yards. Curit combined with Smith and junior Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) to run the ball well for the Bobcats. George averaged 4.8 yards per carry, with 58 yards on 12 totes.
Smith finished with 33 rushing yards on 16 carries, and he completed 9 of 17 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns against one interception. Smith was sacked once behind another stellar performance by the Bobcats' offensive line. The junior QB hit senior wide receiver Tom Finkenstaedt (Norwell, Mass.) for a 56-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give Bates a 27-14 lead, before Curit capped a 7-play, 84-yard next possession with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Senior Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) had another immense game at inside linebacker, with 16 tackles (12 solo), including 2.5 tackles for a total loss of 13 yards, along with one pass breakup.
The first score of the game came on a 9-yard pass from Smith to Squires, capping a 6-play, 68-yard drive at 13:04 of the opening quarter. Junior Matt Gaither (Winchester, Mass.) sacked Williams quarterback Adam Marske on 3rd and 6 at the Williams 15, and a 20-yard punt put Bates right back into excellent scoring position at the Williams 35.
The Smith-Squires combo changed the scoreboard again just three plays later, on 3rd and 8, when Squires hauled in a 33-yard scoring reception. When sophomore kicker Charlie Donahue (Plymouth, N.H.) booted his second consecutive PAT the Bobcats were on top 14-0, with less than five minutes gone.
The Ephs netted a TD on a 12-yard run by Tom Wohlwender at 6:52, but the PAT attempt was wide, leaving Bates up 14-6 at 6:52 of the first quarter.
Bates scored its third TD of the first quarter when Starr stepped in front of an Adam Marske pass intended for Darren Hartwell in the left flat and returned it 26 yards for six points. The PAT by Donahue put Bates in front 21-6.
Wohlwender scored his second TD of the quarter when he powered in from the 1. Marske then collected two more points, running a successful QB draw to make the score 21-14 Bates with 0:16 left in the first quarter.
After putting 35 points on the scoreboard in the first quarter, neither team could score in the second quarter and Bates took a 21-14 lead into the halftime break.
Williams received the ball to start the third quarter and marched 59 yards to the Bates 9. On first and goal, seniors Tyler Kuehl (Plymouth, N.H.) and Cam Evans (Norwell, Mass.) wrapped up Wohlwender for a 3-yard loss, and on the next play senior Brett McAllister (Exeter, N.H.), the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week last week, made his third interception of the season, picking off Marske in the end zone for a touchback.
Bates then opened the second-half scoring when Finkenstaedt got loose down the right sideline and hauled in a 56-yard bomb from Smith, the second time in two weeks the two have hooked up for a TD. The Ephs blocked the PAT attempt, but Bates had increased its lead to 27-14 at 7:10. Just under five minutes later, after a Williams three-and-out possession, the Bobcats padded the lead to 21 points when Curit caught a 2-yard Smith pass for a TD and then Smith ran in for the two-point conversion. With just 2:59 left in the third quarter, Bates had the Weston Field crowd stunned with a 35-14 lead.
Williams closed the gap by two touchdowns in the final period, but could not add to those 12 points as one PAT was blocked by senior Vinnie Ciampi (Concord, N.H.) and a 2-point conversion attempt was negated by a mishandled snap in the backfield, making the final score 35-26 in favor of the visiting Bobcats.
Williams outgained the Bobcats in total offense 390-374, but the Ephs failed to score on three of seven trips into the red zone.
Bates ran for 198 yards (to 136 for Williams) and passed for 176.
Marske threw for 254 yards hitting on 20 of 33 tosses, but was picked off twice by the Bobcats, who entered the weekend leading all of Division III in interceptions (3.5 per game).