LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates football team ended its 17-game losing streak in a big way Saturday night, trouncing rival Bowdoin 30-5 at Garcelon Field in the first nighttime home football game in team history.
In the 122nd meeting between the old rivals, first-year Tyler Bridge (Wells, Maine) rushed for 188 yards and junior Brendan Costa (Westport, Mass.) passed for 212 yards and three touchdowns, as Bates (1-7) gained 523 yards on the night, their most in one game since Oct. 22, 2011, when they gained 537 yards in a 49-43 loss to Middlebury.
The Bobcats defeated the Polar Bears (0-8) for the eighth time in nine years, while giving second-year head coach Malik Hall his first victory.
Austin McCrum completed 12-of-29 passes for 200 yards for Bowdoin, throwing one interception. Nate Richam-Odoi rushed for 81 yards on 24 carries and caught three passes for 71 yards.
Costa connected with sophomore wide receiver Jackson Hayes (San Marino, Calif.) for a 54-yard touchdown on the game's sixth play from scrimmage, and his two-point conversion pass to junior Liam Spillane (Byfield, Mass.) was good for an 8-0 Bates lead less than three minutes into the game.
Bates made it 14-0 early in the second quarter, capping a seven-play, 45-yard drive as Bridge ran untouched into the end zone from three yards out.
Bates' defense cut Bowdoin's ensuing drive short as senior Zach Doyon (Eliot, Maine) dived to pick off a pass by McCrum at the Bowdoin 36. Two plays later, Costa lofted a pass down the right sideline to Hayes, who caught the ball in stride and ran into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown, and the PAT by sophomore Simon Redfern (Providence, R.I.) made it 21-0. Hayes finished the game with the two catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Bates added three points to the lead midway through the second quarter, capping a nine-play, 71-yard drive with Redfern's first career field goal from 25 yards out.
Bowdoin answered with its longest drive of the game before the half ended, advancing 72 yards on 10 plays in less than two minutes. McCrum connected with Richam for 37 yards on the drive and with Michael Cloppse for 14 yards to take the Polar Bears to the Bates 26-yard line. A pass interference penalty against Bates put Bowdoin on the 11 with two seconds left in the half, and Michael Chen hit a 28-yard field goal, cutting the Bates lead to 24-3 at intermission.
Bates sophomore defensive end Nolan Potter (Wells, Maine) caused a McCrum fumble on the first series of the second half. The Bowdoin quarterback recovered the ball but the Polar Bears were forced to punt. Bates turned the ball over on downs at the Bowdoin 36, but Bowdoin's drive was halted on downs at the Bates 20.
Taking over at their own 20 with 5:24 left in the third quarter, Bates embarked on the final scoring drive of the game, picking up chunks of yardage with rushes of 17 yards by Bridge, 14 yards by senior Matt Golden (New Bedford, Mass.) and 23 yards by Costa. On 4th and 6 at the Bowdoin 23, Costa rushed a yard past the first-down marker, but a personal foul called against the Bobcats backed them up to the 31, facing 4th and 14. Costa lofted a pass down the left sideline, where sophomore Sean Bryant (Falmouth, Maine) came down with the ball between two Bowdoin defensive backs inside the 5, and he twisted around and ran the ball in to complete the 31-yard touchdown. Bryant finished with four catches for 92 yards, his second 90-yard game in a row.
Redfern's extra-point attempt was blocked by Harrison Craig, and Soren Birkeland picked up the ball and sprinted untouched down the sideline for two Bowdoin points, closing the gap to 30-5.
The fourth quarter was scoreless for both teams, and the Bobcats were able to take a knee at the Bowdoin 3-yard line on the final play of the game, setting off a celebration on the field for Bates players and fans.
First-year Tony Hooks (New Rochelle, N.Y.) led Bates with eight tackles, while Potter had a big night with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Joe Gowetski had a game-high 14 tackles for Bowdoin, and Craig added nine tackles. Matthew Williams had seven tackles and an interception.
Bates finishes the season at Hamilton (4-4) next Saturday at noon. Bowdoin will host Colby next Saturday at 4:30pm. A Bowdoin win would create a three-way tie for the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) title. Colby can win the CBB outright by beating Bowdoin.