Colby football wins wild comeback game over Hamilton

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WATERVILLE, Maine --- Colby College's Jonathan Michaeles will likely never forget his first win as a head coach after the Mules scored 19 straight points in the final 8:15 of the contest to pull out a 32-29 victory  against Hamilton College in New England Small College Athletic Conference football Saturday at Harold Alfond Stadium.
Colby improves to 1-4 overall heading into next Saturday's 1 p.m. game at Bates College, while Hamilton falls to 1-4 and will play host to Williams College next Saturday at 1 p.m. Colby has won five straight games against Hamilton.
While the Mules' offense came alive in the fourth quarter, Colby's defense did the job at the end of the third quarter. Hamilton had first down at the Mule 1-yard line and was threatening to extend their 26-13 lead. Colby's Henry Nelson (Reeding, Conn.) and his teammates had other ideas. Nelson had one solo stop and assisted on two other tackles to force the Continentals' Garrett Hoy (Irvington, N.Y.) to kick a 20-yard field goal with 11 seconds left. The difference between three points and a possible seven points would turn out to haunt Hamilton.
The Mules started the comeback with a 74-yard drive on 11 plays, ending in a 9-yard touchdown pass from first-year quarterback Justin Ciero (Chappaqua, N.Y.) to wide receiver Jason Buco (Methuen, Mass.) with 8:15 to play to cut the lead to 29-19. The Mules tried to cut the margin to a one touchdown game, but missed on a two-point conversion pass.
After a three-and-out by the Continentals, Ciero went back to passing mode and completed a 12-yard pass to Derrick Beasley (Andover, Mass.) for a first down. On the next play, Spencer Gopaul (Washington, D.C.) caught a short pass out of the backfield and got loose for a 54-yard scoring play. Colby's David Bendit (Emmaus, Pa.) kicked the extra point and suddenly Hamilton's lead was down to 29-26 with 6:10 to go.
The Mules gave up one first down to the Continentals on the ensuing drive, but managed for force a punt with 3:57 to play. Zach Padula (Coventry, R.I.) fielded the punt at his own 18-yard line and rambled 47 yards with the return to Hamilton's 35-yard line.
Ciero completed a 23-yard pass play to senior Michael Lahiff (Melrose, Mass.) to the Continental 10-yard line. Three plays later, the two connected again on a 6-yard touchdown pass to put the Mules up for the first time at 32-29. Hamilton's Nick Kaleikini (Honolulu, Hawaii) blocked the extra point and kept his team within a field goal for a tie.
The Continentals had two more drives the rest of the way. A costly holding penalty stalled the first drive and Hamilton turned the ball over on downs with 34 seconds to play.
The Continentals, though, had all three timeouts and quickly used them after three Colby rushing plays for negative yardage. With the ball at the Hamilton 32-yard line, Colby elected to go for the first down instead of risking a punting issue. The Mules gained 4 yards on a run by Ciero, but Hamilton took over on downs with 18 seconds to play.
Continental quarterback Jordan Eck (Rye, N.Y.) completed a 24-yard pass play to Hoy on the first play to give his team the ball at the Colby 48-yard line. After an incompletion, Hoy once again caught another 24-yard pass play to the Colby 24-yard line. Hoy lined up for a 40-yard field goal attempt to tie the game with two seconds left, but Hamilton hurt its own cause with a false start penalty to make the field goal 45 yards. Hoy was short on the kick on the last play of the game.
Hamilton opened up a 20-7 lead after one quarter thanks in part to Colby mistakes. Mike MacDonald (Glen Ridge, N.J.) recovered a punt in the end zone for Hamilton after a snap from center went over the head of Colby's punter just 2:02 into the game.
After a Colby fumble at its own 21-yard line, Hamilton needed just two plays to go up 13-0 with 12:04 left in the opening quarter. Eck threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Simon Jia (Montreal, Quebec), but the Continentals missed the extra point.
Colby first-year running back Thomas Brewster (Fairfield, Conn.) scored his first collegiate touchdown to cut the lead to 13-7 with 5:21 left in the opening quarter. Brewster finished the day with 14 carries for 78 yards (5.6 per rush) and caught two passes for 48 yards.
Eck drove Hamilton 69 yards on seven plays and connected with Joe Jensen (West Windsor, N.J.) on a 41-yard scoring pass to push the lead to 20-7 after one quarter.
The Continentals' Charley Bueneman (Queenstown, Md.) forced a Colby fumble and Dan Peters (Niskayuna, N.Y.) scooped up the ball and raced 44 yards for another Hamilton touchdown for a 26-7 lead with 9:06 to halftime. Hoy did have his extra point attempt blocked.
Colby cut the halftime lead to 26-13 when Ciero completed a 16-yard pass to Beasley and a 19-yard toss to Kyle Roth (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.) to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Ciero with 17 seconds to play.
Ciero threw for 260 yards, ran for 59 yards, threw three touchdown passes, and had the one rushing score. Buco caught four balls for 50 yards, Beasley had four grabs for 40 yards, and Gopaul had three catches for 56 yards.
Eck had 225 yards passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Mules held James Stanell to just 38 rushing yards on 19 carries, but he did have five catches for 56 yards. Jenson added four catches for 87 yards.
Nelson was all over the field for Colby with 17 total tackles from his middle linebacker spot. Tony Atkinson (Bethesda, Md.) added seven tackles.
Jared Kochenash (Whitehall, Pa.) had 10 solo stops among his team-high 12 tackles for Hamilton. MacDonald added nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble.
Colby 32, Hamilton 29
Hamilton............ 20  6  3  0  - 29      
Colby...............  7  6  0 19  - 32      
Scoring Summary:
  1st 12:58 HAM12- - Mike MacDonald 0 yd fumble recovery (Garrett Hoy kick)
      12:04 HAM12- - Simon Jia 17 yd pass from Jordan Eck (Garrett Hoy kick blocked)
      05:21 COLFB12 - Thomas Brewster 26 yd run (David Bendit kick)
      01:34 HAM12- - Joe Jensen 41 yd pass from Jordan Eck (Garrett Hoy kick)
  2nd 09:06 HAM12- - Dan Peters 44 yd fumble recovery (Garrett Hoy kick blocked)
      00:17 COLFB12 - Justin Ciero 4 yd run (David Bendit kick failed)
  3rd 00:11 HAM12- - Garrett Hoy 20 yd field goal
  4th 08:15 COLFB12 - Jason Buco 9 yd pass from Justin Ciero (Justin Ciero pass failed)
      06:10 COLFB12 - Spencer Gopaul 54 yd pass from Justin Ciero (David Bendit kick)
      01:18 COLFB12 - Michael Lahiff 6 yd pass from Justin Ciero (David Bendit kick blockd)
                                                HAM  COL
  FIRST DOWNS...................       13       18
  RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............    33-64    42-88
  PASSING YDS (NET).............      225      255
  Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  30-14-1  32-18-2
  TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   63-289   74-343
  Fumble Returns-Yards..........     1-44      0-0
  Punt Returns-Yards............      1-7     4-58
  Kickoff Returns-Yards.........    6-172    6-125
  Interception Returns-Yards....      2-0      1-0
  Punts (Number-Avg)............   7-32.7   4-38.5
  Fumbles-Lost..................      1-0      5-3
  Penalties-Yards...............     8-62     5-43
  Possession Time...............    29:43    30:17
  Third-Down Conversions........  2 of 13  5 of 15
  Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 3   2 of 5
  Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-2      3-4
  Sacks By: Number-Yards........     2-14      1-6
  RUSHING: Hamilton-Jordan Eck 10-47; James Stanell 19-38; Jeff Hopsicker 2-0;
  Simon Jia 1-minus 2; TEAM 1-minus 19. Colby-Thomas Brewster 14-78; Justin Ciero
  21-59; Spencer Gopaul 4-minus 8; TEAM 3-minus 41.
  PASSING: Hamilton-Jordan Eck 14-26-0-225; Jeff Hopsicker 0-4-1-0. Colby-Justin
  Ciero 18-32-2-260.
  RECEIVING: Hamilton-James Stanell 5-56; Joe Jensen 4-87; Garrett Hoy 2-48; Simon
  Jia 1-17; Ethan Dukes 1-9; Rico Gonzalez 1-8. Colby-Jason Buco 4-50; Derrick
  Beasley 4-40; Spencer Gopaul 3-56; Thomas Brewster 2-48; Michael Lahiff 2-29;
  Kyle Roth 1-19; Kyle Layne-Allen 1-13; Indigo Dow 1-5.
  INTERCEPTIONS: Hamilton-Dan Peters 1-0; K. Woods-Lokken 1-0. Colby-Zach Padula
  FUMBLES: Hamilton-TEAM 1-0. Colby-Thomas Brewster 2-1; Justin Ciero 1-0; TEAM
  1-1; Spencer Gopaul 1-1.

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