WATERVILLE, Maine --- The Colby College football team heads into Saturday's noon game with Hamilton College at Harold Alfond Stadium hoping to start what the squad accomplished a year ago.
The Mules are 0-4 to start the season for the second straight year, but Colby beat Hamilton last season to start a three-game winning streak on the way to a 3-5 record.
Colby, after struggling in the season opener against Williams, has played well at times in the other three contests. The Mules lost a tough game to Wesleyan here two weeks ago and played Amherst tough for three quarters last week in a 23-3 loss. Colby also had an opportunity to take a 16-7 halftime lead on Middlebury in week two before a returned blocked kick for a touchdown by the Panthers derailed the Mules.
Colby has started the season against opponents with a combined 12-4 record in the opening four games. The final four games are against teams with a combined 4-12 record.
The Mules have won four straight games against Hamilton and has a huge 80-27 scoring margin during those contests. The Mules took a hard-fought 13-7 win at Hamilton last year. The Continentals last victory over Colby was 20-0 at Hamilton during the 2007 season.
Colby kicker David Bendit was honored as the NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week after booting a collegiate-long 42-yard field goal in the loss at Amherst. Bendit's kick cut the Lord Jeff lead at the time to 9-3 with 4:51 left in the third quarter. He has made eight career field goals in his four-year career at Colby.
In the latest NESCAC statistics, Colby cornerback Jason Buco is tied for the league lead in interceptions with four. He also ranks 10th in the conference in all-purpose yards (90.7). Buco returns kicks and also plays wide receiver.
Colby quarterbacks Justin Ciero and Connor Emmert have both seen action in the first four games. Ciero is the lone first-year quarterback and sixth in the league in pass efficiency (104.7 rating). He also is eighth in passing yards per game (107.8) and ninth in total offense (142.2). Emmert has thrown for 187 yards.
Senior running back Spencer Gopaul leads the Mules in rushing yards (154) and total receptions (13). Thomas Brewster is averaging a team-best 4.5-yards per carry, with 10 rushes for 45 yards.
Indigo Dow is tied for the team lead in receiving yards with Buco at 141. Dow has 12 catches and averages nearly 12 yards per grab, while Buco has five catches for 141 yards (28.2 per catch). Michael Lahiff is third on Colby in receptions (10) and receiving yards (107).
Colby sophomore middle linebacker Henry Nelson is sixth in the NESCAC in tackles (36 total, 9.0 per game). He had 13 tackles and his first interception of the season in last Saturday's setback at Amherst. Daniel Maddox (28 tackles), Phil Amato (24), Ryan Ruiz (23), and Derrick Beasley (21) all have 20 tackles or more. Ryan Veillette, despite missing the season opener, leads in sacks (2.5, tied for fourth in NESCAC) and tackles for loss (3.5).
In Colby's 13-7 win at Hamilton last year, Lahiff caught a 12-yard scoring pass in the game. Veillette led the way defensively with 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one fumble recovery. The Mules had three interceptions and three fumble recoveries in the game.
Hamilton (1-3 overall) had given up 125 points in losses to Amherst (38-14), Wesleyan (34-14), and Trinity (53-4) to start the season. However, the Continentals took a 14-13 home win over Bowdoin last Saturday to give new head coach Andrew Cohen his first victory. Cohen was the defensive coordinator at Bowdoin in 2011.
Hamilton junior running back James Stanell ranks fourth in the NESCAC in rushing yards per game (86.8) and had 90 rushing and receiving yards against Colby a year ago. The Mules are fourth in the league in rushing defense, allowing 109.5 yards per game. Stanell also is first in the conference in all-purpose yards (211.0), with more than half of his yards on kickoff returns.
Continental quarterbacks Jeff Hopsicker, who is fifth in the league in pass efficiency, and Jordan Eck have both thrown about 50 passes each this season.
Hamilton linebacker Mike MacDonald leads the NESCAC in tackles per game (11.8) and total tackles (47). Junior safety Andrew Austin averages 9.3 tackles per contest.