Bowdoin College opened and closed the scoring with mammoth
interception returns for scores as the Polar Bears downed Tufts
27-6 in the Jumbos' home opener at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field on
With 10:43 remaining in the second period, sophomore Joey Cleary opened the scoring by picking off a Johnny Lindquist pass at the Bowdoin one and running straight down the right sideline for a 99-yard touchdown. The Jumbos had driven to the Bowdoin 5 following an eight-play, 46-yard drive. Lindquist was attempting to scramble to the right and threw the ball while being tackled.
Not to be outdone, sophomore Griffin Cardew closed the scoring and sealed the win with a near instant replay with 4:10 remaining in the contest as he snared a Lindquist pass at the goal line and returned the ball for an NCAA record-tying 100-yard return.
It is believed to be the first time in Division III history that a team has returned two interceptions of at least 99 yards for a score in the same game. It is the first time in NESCAC history that a team has turned the trick and the two returns become the two longest plays in the 120-year history of Bowdoin football.
Bowdoin scored the third quarter's only touchdown on a 13-play, 61-yard drive following the kickoff. The drive consumed the first 5:17 of the period. Zach Donnarumma went the final three yards for a 13-0 Bowdoin lead.
The Polar Bears used a ball control offense with running plays and short passes to control the ball for much of the second half, holding a 20:26 to 9:34 edge in time of possession. Bowdoin opened the fourth quarter scoring following a 16-play, 86-yard drive that consumed 7:07 on the clock spanning the third and fourth quarters. Sean O'Malley capped the drive on a two-yard pass from Grant White.
Tufts answered almost immediately with Dylan Hass starting the Jumbos off with a 48-yard return of a short kickoff to bring the ball to the Polar Bear 27. It took Lindquist only one play and 20 seconds to put Tufts on the board with a 27-yard strike to Mike Howell to make the score 20-6.
Donnarumma finished at 100 yards on the ground exactly on 28 carries to lead the Polar Bears. White added 62 yards in 11 rushes, while also completing 13 of 16 passes for 101 yards. Senior Pat Noone caught five passes for 48 yards. In addition to the interception return, Cleary finished with seven tackles (six solos) including a sack, a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry.
Lindquist went 15 for 28 for 170 yards at quarterback for Tufts, including four balls for 40 yards to Haas. Sophomore Ryan Pollock had 35 yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Zack Skarzynski topped double digits in tackles again with 16, including one for a loss. Bowdoin outgained the Jumbos 291-229, with a 190-59 yard edge in rushing.
Bowdoin will look to even their record next Saturday as they host Hamilton at noon.