Bates beats Hamilton in season finale, 28-18

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LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College football team ended the 2010 season on a high note on Saturday, defeating Hamilton College 28-18 in the season finale for both teams. It is the Bobcats' sixth win over the Continentals in their past seven meetings, and Bates' first win recorded on the renovated Garcelon Field.

Bates (2-6) took over the lead early in the second quarter and used a stifling and opportunistic defense to keep the lead the rest of the way, despite being held without a first down for the entire second half. Hamilton (1-7) outgained Bates in total offense, 265 to 179, and accumulated 20 first downs to only nine for Bates for the game.

Junior Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) had a career-high 18 tackles (14 solo), including 2.5 tackles for a loss, to spearhead a Bates defense that limited Hamilton to negative rushing yardage as a team until its final possession. The Continentals finished with 20 yards on the ground on 37 attempts. Bates sacked Hamilton quarterback Jordan Eck six times, by six different individuals. First-year safety Andrew Kukesh (Exeter, N.H.) recovered a Hamilton fumble and picked off two passes, finishing the season with a team-high six interceptions.

Both teams scored their final touchdowns on fumble recoveries in the end zone. Jared Kochenash recovered a misplayed punt return deep in the Bates end zone after several players touched the ball as it traveled back from around the Bates 15-yard line. The score closed the gap to 21-18 with 1:00 left in the second quarter.

Bates returned the favor with 3:43 left in the third quarter, when a fumble by Hamilton quarterback Jordan Eck at the Continentals' 10-yard line was pursued and jumped on in the end zone by Bates linebacker Will Taft (South Hamilton, Mass.). The play, combined with rookie kicker Charlie Donahue's (Plymouth, N.H.) fourth extra-point of the day, was the only score of the second half.

The first big play of the game came early on. With 10:45 left in the first quarter, Hamilton concluded its second three-and-out of the game by punting from its own 25. But George Taylor's kick was smothered by Bates first-year Matt Place (Portland, Maine), and junior Joe Drinkwater (Walpole, Mass.) recovered the ball for the Bobcats at the Hamilton 1. A false start penalty backed Bates up to the 6, but sophomore Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) ran it in from there through the left side of the offensive line, and Donahue made his first career extra point for a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, however, Hamilton freshman running back James Stanell burst up the middle and soon found nothing but open space ahead, for an 80-yard touchdown return. The point-after attempt failed, however, allowing Bates to keep the lead at 7-6.

Hamilton got its first and only lead on its next possession, after the Continentals sacked Bates sophomore quarterback Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.) on consecutive plays to force the Bobcats to turn the ball over on downs. With 3:28 left in the first quarter, Eck threw a perfect lead to Mark Snickenberger near the left pylon, and Snickenberger waltzed into the end zone untouched. Eck's two-point pass attempt failed, keeping the score at 12-7 Hamilton.

Early in the second quarter, Bates junior QB Ryan Katon (Durham, Conn.) made his first appearance in the game as the Bobcats took over at their own 37 with 13:06 left in the half. On Katon's first snap, he lofted a pass to 6-foot-7 junior receiver John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) along the left sideline. Squires leaped and caught the ball, staggered and impressively stayed on his feet, leaving his Hamilton defender fallen behind him as he streaked into the end zone, for a 63-yard scoring connection that made it 14-12 Bates with 12:56 left in the half.

Kukesh picked off Eck two Hamilton possessions later, setting up Bates at its own 43 with 6:09 left in the quarter. Smith used his legs to rush five times for a net 22 yards on the ensuing drive. From Hamilton's 21, Smith threw a swing pass to first-year Teddy Downs (South Boston, Mass.), wide open in the flat, and Downs scampered for a 21-yard touchdown reception and a 21-12 Bates lead.

Hamilton was able to close the gap before the half was over, however, thanks to the botched punt return. Taylor punted inside the Bates 20. The ball took some funny bounces and was touched by players on both teams as it skidded backward into Bates' end zone, where Kochenash finally fell on the ball for a touchdown. A failed two-point pass by Eck sent the teams into intermission with Bates ahead 21-18.

Hamilton held Bates without a first down for the entire second half, and to just four total yards in the entire third quarter, but couldn't make up ground on the scoreboard. While Bates avoided turning the ball over until the closing minutes of the game, Hamilton fumbled the ball away three times and was intercepted twice in the second half, giving Bates an average starting field position at its own 45. Meanwhile, some exceptional punting by Bates senior Gavin Segall-Abrams (Greensboro, N.C.) gave Hamilton an average starting field position of its own 18. Segall-Abrams punted 11 times on the day for a 43.3-yard average.

Eck finished the day with 24 completions on 39 attempts for 245 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. Scott Kleinklaus caught nine passes for 83 yards, while Snickenberger had seven catches for 106 yards. Stanell rushed 20 times for 44 yards.

Mike MacDonald had a team-high nine tackles for Hamilton (7 solo), including one of the Continentals' five sacks on the day. Jim Forrey had seven tackles (6 solo), including two sacks and three tackles for a loss. Kochenash had an interception in addition to his fumble recovery touchdown.

Bates' offensive leaders included Downs with four catches for 48 yards and a score, and Squires with three catches for 79 yards and a score. George rushed for a team-high 28 yards on 11 attempts.

Several other Bates defensive players heretofore unmentioned played standout games, including senior defensive lineman Joel Israel (Andover, Mass.), who had six tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss, as well as a quarterback hurry; sophomore defensive lineman Matt Gaither (Winchester, Mass.), who had five tackles, including a sack, along with a tipped pass and a quarterback hurry; junior linebacker Brett McAllister (Exeter, N.H.), who had a sack and an interception; and junior defensive back Cam Evans (Norwell, Mass.), who had seven tackles.