Lewiston, Maine - Senior co-captain RB Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) tallied 123 rushing yards and three touchdowns to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 28-17 win over the Bates College Bobcats in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season opener on Garcelon Field today. The win is Trinity's 10th straight, dating back to Nov. 5, 2011. The Bantams have won 21 of their last 22 games.
It was a legs race for both teams, as Trinity and Bates combined for 117 rushes, compared to 31 passing attempts. Toward the end of the first period, with no score on the board, Bates caused a key turnover when junior Gilbert Brown (Gloucester, Mass.) came up with an interception. The Bobcats drove their way to Trinity's one yard line and opened the second period with a 4th-down conversion on a rush by senior Ryan Curit (South Portland, Me.), to give Bates a 7-0 lead over the visitors. Trinity wasted no time responding, marching down the field on the ensuing possession, and knotting the score at 7-7, on a two-yard rush by Bunker.
Behind a boisterous home crowd, hungry for the first Bobcats win over the Bantams since 1979, Bates QB junior Matt Cannone (Windham, N.H.) connected with junior WR Mike Tomaino (Gloucester, Mass.) on a 62-yard pass, setting up another Bates touchdown run by Curit. Trinity again responded, driving 68 yards in 1:56 running the hurry-up offense, setting up Bunker for his second touchdown of the game, and tying the score at 14-14. The teams took the even score to the locker rooms at the half.
Late in the third quarter, two long rushes by sophomore Patrick Duggan (Westford, Mass.) put Bates in position for a field goal, which gave the Bobcats at 17-14 lead. Trinity senior S Mike Mancini (Rocky Hill, Conn.) came up with some key tackles on defense to limit the Bobcats to just three points on the drive. Later in the quarter, the Trinity defense came up clutch again, highlighted by a 4th and 15 tackle for loss by senior Tom Haverty (Marion, Mass.) on Trinity's 22-yard yard line, giving the Bantams possession.
Momentum shifted in Trinity's favor in the fourth period. Trinity opened the quarter with a 77-yard drive, capped by Bunker's third touchdown of the game, which gave the Bantams their first lead of the game, 21-17. On the ensuing drive by Bates, Trinity junior CB Brian Dones (Philadelphia, Pa.) came up with an interception, only to be negated by Bates defense, which immediately returned the favor with an interception by junior Pat Gilligan (Acton, Mass.). On the very next play, Mancini recovered a Bates fumble, which was the third turnover in as many plays.
The series of turnovers ended on Trinity's offensive possession. Trinity sophomore QB Henry Foye (Madison, Conn.) pump faked to his left before delivering a perfectly placed pass to a wide-open junior WR Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.) on a well-designed play, as the Bantams took a 28-17 lead. The Trinity defense continued to apply heavy pressure, causing yet another fumble, again recovered by Mancini, one of six turnovers in the game. Foye picked up where he left off, connecting with sophomore WR Ian Dugger (West Hartford, Conn.) for 29 yards on Trinity's following drive. A missed FG attempt by Trinity gave Bates the ball with 5:34 to play, trailing 17-28, but the Trinity defense continued their strong play in the fourth quarter, keeping the Bobcats out of the end zone, cementing Trinity's first win of the 2013 campaign.
Foye finished 9-13 passing in the game for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Canonne went 2-5 for 65 yards. Senior WR A.J. Jones (Freetown, Siera Leone) and Dugger combined for eight catches and 91 yards for the Bantams and Tomaino made both of Bates catches, finishing with 64 yards receiving. The Trinity running backs combined for 215 yards on the ground, while Bates running backs scampered for 291 yards in the game. Time of possession was balanced, as Bates controlled the ball for 30:03, and Trinity had control for 29:57.