Hartford, Conn. – Junior RB Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) rushed 27 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 37-16 win over the visiting Bates College Bobcats in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football opener for both teams this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field. Trinity, ranked No. 6 in New England, wins its 44th straight home game and its 19th in a row over the Bobcats dating back to 1979. Trinity last lost at home in 2001 to Williams, 31-10, and has never lost a home game on turf.
Leading, 21-16, after an interception and 46-yard return down the right sideline by Bates sophomore LB Gilbert Brown (Gloucester, Mass.) led to a one-yard touchdown plunge by senior QB Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.), Trinity held Bates to just two yards of offense the rest of the game while pulling away on a fourth-quarter touchdown run from nine yards away by Bunker, a one-yard scoring play by sophomore RB Michael Budness (Belchertown, Mass.), and a 25-yard field goal by senior K/P Tim Costello (Solana Beach, Calif.). Bates sophomore DB Mike Kelleher (Saugas, Mass.) intercepted another Trinity pass just 2:27 after the Smith touchdown, but the Bantam defense forced a quick punt, and the offense rushed six straight times for 50 yards to take a 27-16 lead on the Bunker touchdown run lead and a failed PAT. Bates managed a first down on its next possession, but a costly personal foul on the Bobcats and a six-yard sack by Trinity junior OLB Michael Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.) forced another punt. Costello's field goal made the score, 30-16, with 11:51 left to play, and a late Bantam drive that took 8:22 off the clock and ended with Budness' score put the game away.
In the first half, Bates threatened on its first drive thanks to a 25-yard run by junior Ryan Curit (South Portland, Maine) but the Trinity defense turned the Bobcats over on downs. Bantam senior CB Nick Campbell (New Albany, Ohio) stopped Bates sophomore Mac Jackson (Hood River, Oregon) short of the first down on 4th-and-3 at the Trinity 24-yard line. After back-to-back punts, Bates took advantage of a Trinity fumble in its own end by junior RB Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.), recovering the ball at the Bantam 19-yard line and eventually settling for a 23-yard field goal by junior K Charlie Donahue (Plymouth, N.H.). Trinity answered immediately, driving 70-yard on 15 plays for the season's first touchdown on an 11-yard pass from senior QB Ryan Burgess (Dracut, Mass.) to Budness on 3rd-and-5 from the Bobcat 11-yard line. Following a short Bates punt, Burgess found junior WR A.J. Jones (Freetown, Sierra Leone) for a 49-yard touchdown pass on first down, and Bunker scored his first touchdown on a 19-yard run to give Trinity a 21-3 lead with 9:55 left in the first half.
Bates took advantage of another Trinity miscue, tackling the Bantam punter, rookie Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.), at the Bantam five-yard line, and scoring three plays later on a one-yard run by senior captain RB Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) to cut the Trinity lead to 21-10 at the 2:32 mark of the second quarter. Trinity threatened late in the second stanza, but Bates sophomore LB Josh Freedland (Marblehead, Mass.) stopped Burgess a yard shy on 4th-and -3 from the Bates 32-yard line with 21 seconds left on the clock. Both teams punted to open the second half, before Brown ripped the ball from Budness in the flat and nearly raced to the end zone.
Trinity made 22 first downs to just six for Bates and outgained the Bobcats, 427-120. Trinity held Bates to three rushing yards on 19 carries after intermission and a7 passing yards for the game. Crick rushed for 66 yards and Budness added 42 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards, while George paced Bates with 51 rushing yards on 13 carries. Burgess finished 13-for-26 for 161 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, while Smith was 5-for-16 for 17 yards passing for Bates. Trinity sophomore OLB Tom Szymanski (Dracut, Mass.) led all tacklers with 10, including 2.5 for loss, while junior ILB Brett Cde Baca (Millbrae, Calif.) added seven tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, and senior S Julian Brown (Philadelphia, Pa.) added six tackles, one sack, two tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. Senior DB Evan Dowd (Longmeadow, Mass.) and junior DB Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) had nine tackles apiece for Bates, while Dowd also had a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.