Football team holds off Bates in wild finish

Contact: William Sodoma
Date: October 31, 2009
Athletics Preview Photos

Patrick Burns

WATERVILLE, Maine --- The first game of the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) championship went to the home team as the Colby College football team survived a wild Bates College comeback in the final six minutes to give the Mules a 34-27 victory in New England Small College Athletic Conference play Saturday at Seaverns Field at Harold Alfond Stadium.

The Mules are 3-3 overall and play their final home game next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against Tufts University. Bates falls to 0-6 overall and will host Bowdoin College at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Colby will close out the season and play its second CBB game at Bowdoin on November 14.

Bates trailed 34-13 with 5:59 left in the game, but furiously fought back with two straight touchdowns and then had a chance to tie the game with a 1st-and-goal at Colby's 5-yard line with 1:30 to play. Colby's defense stiffened and forced two straight incomplete passes and then stopped a run to force fourth down. The Bobcats missed on a final pass play into the end zone to wide receiver Tom Beaton (West Newbury, Mass.). Colby, with Bates having no timeouts left, kneeled to run out the rest of the clock.

Colby appeared to have the game in hand at 34-13 when sophomore quarterback Nick Kmetz (Laurel, Del.) scored on a 1-yard scoring run on a fourth down play with 5:59 left in the fourth quarter. The Mules started on their own 45-yard line after a 34-yard kickoff return by Dan Prunier (Merrimack, N.H.). The Mules converted on two big fourth downs on the drive. Kmetz hit Patrick Burns (Charles Town, W.V.) on a 17-yard pass play on a 4th-and-15 to give the Mules the ball at the Bates 13-yard line. Kmetz then scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down after the Mules were stopped on two straight plays at the 1-yard line. David Bendit kicked the extra point for a 34-13 lead.

Bates converted two fourth down plays of its own on the next drive. First-year quarterback Trevor Smith (Malvern, Pa.) hit Sean Wirth (Barrington, R.I.) on a 4th-and-5 play to keep the drive alive. Five plays later, Smith threw a 20-yard scoring pass to John Squires (Swampscott, Mass.) on a 4th-and-1 play to cut the margin to 34-20.

After Colby gave up the ball on downs at the Bates 31-yard line, the Bobcats moved quickly down the field thanks to two 15-yard penalties on Colby. Smith found Beaton for a 15-yard scoring strike with 1:42 left in the game and suddenly it was a 34-27 lead for the Mules.

The Bobcats' special teams came up big when they recovered the onsides kick at the their own 44-yard line with still 1:36 to play in the game. Smith stayed hot and found Wirth on a 16-yard pass play to the Colby 35 and then on the next play hit Evan Tierney (Carlisle, Mass.) on a 30-yard pass play to the Colby 5-yard line. The Mules' defense then finally slowed the Bobcats down and took over on downs.

The Mules wasted no time with a touchdown on their first drive of the game. Prunier (Merrimack, N.H.), with fullback Roger Bel (Ridgefield, Conn.) leading the way in the I-formation, ran in from 2 yards out for the score and Bendit had the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 7:16 left in the first quarter. Kmetz hit Burns on a 47-yard pass play to help set up the score. Kmetz also converted a 3rd-and-11 play with a 14-yard run early on the drive and later hit Connor Walsh (Westwood, Mass.) on an 18-yard pass play to the Bates 2.

After Bates was forced to punt again by Colby's defense, the Mules took over on their own 40-yard line and mainly used their running game to go up 14-0. Colby wide receiver Matt Hellinger (Wilbraham, Mass.) caught a key 3rd-and-15 ball for a first down early in the drive, but the Mules mainly went to runs the rest of the way. Walsh ran in from 5 yards out for the touchdown, yet it was Prunier who had the bulk of the work to set up the score. He had five rushes for 42 yards on the drive.

Colby went up by three scores at 21-0 with 4:21 left to halftime. The Mules drove 83 yards on 10 plays, capped off by a 1-yard scoring plunge by halfback Michael Cuqua (Walpole, Mass.). Tight end Nat Carson (Winfield, Ill.), Andrew Graham (Dracut, Mass.), and Burns all had catches on the drive. Kmetz set up Cuqua's touchdown with an 8-yard run to the Bates 1-yard line.

While Colby's offense was efficient with passing and running, the Mules' defense was dominant in the opening half. Colby had its first shutout since the 2004 season with a 16-0 win over Hamilton last week.

Senior safety Chris Copeland (Rexford, N.Y.) may have made the defensive play of the game when he intercepted a ball in the end zone when Bates had a 1st-and-goal in the final minute of the first half. Instead of cutting the lead with a touchdown or a field goal, Copeland's pick helped the Mules' defense make it six straight quarters without giving up a point.

Bates stopped the Colby defensive scoreless streak at six quarters with a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. The Bobcats got a 1-yard scoring run from Patrick George (Gloucester, Mass.) that capped off a 65-yard, 11-play drive that took 5:09 off the clock to make it 21-7.

Colby pushed the lead to 27-7 when Kmetz hit Bel on a 5-yard scoring pass, but the Mules did miss the extra point with 2:30 left in the third quarter. Hellinger had a catch of 13 yards and Prunier had a solid run of 17 on the drive. Prunier also converted a 4th-and-inches play to get the first down at the Bates 5-yard line.

The Bobcats refused to give up and came back with a seven-play, 63-yard scoring drive. Smith hit Matt Gregg (Milton, Mass.) on an 18-yard scoring pass that came on fourth down. Smith also had passes to Wirth (26 yards) and Beaton (6 yards) on the drive. A pass interference penalty on Colby also helped Bates on the drive.

Colby's run defense, ranked fourth nationally coming into the game at 53.6 yards per game, allowed just 13 yards on the ground to Bates. The Mules have given up minus-1 yards of rushing over the past two contests.

Kmetz was 14-for-20 for 214 yards and also ran for 30 yards. Prunier had his best game of the season with 17 rushes for 92 yards. Burns caught six passes for 104 yards.

Smith, in his first career start, was outstanding with 31 completions for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Beaton caught 10 balls for 121 yards, Gregg had 79 yards on eight grabs, and Wirth finished with six catches for 81 yards.

Copeland had the big interception before halftime and led the Mules with 11 tackles. Nick Tucker (N. Berwick, Maine) and Lamont Henry (Virginia Beach, Va.) each had six tackles, while Casey Sullivan (Rye, N.H.) had a sack among his five tackles.

Myles Walker (Needham, Mass.) and Brett McAllister (Exeter, N.H.) each had 10 stops to lead Bates.

Colby and Bates have met 116 times in the series and the Mules have a 63-46-7 lead in the series.

Colby 34, Bates 27

Bates...............  0  0  7 20  - 27      

Colby............... 14  7  6  7  - 34     

Scoring Summary:

  1st 07:16 COLFB09 - Dan Prunier 2 yd run (David Bendit kick), 8-80 4:17, BAT 0 - COLFB09 7

      00:52 COLFB09 - Connor Walsh 5 yd run (David Bendit kick), 12-70 4:52, BAT 0 - COLFB09 14

  2nd 04:21 COLFB09 - Michael Cuqua 1 yd run (David Bendit kick), 10-83 4:09, BAT 0 - COLFB09 21

  3rd 09:51 BAT - P. George 1 yd run (Segall-Abrams kick), 11-65 5:02, BAT 7 - COLFB09 21

      02:30 COLFB09 - Roger Bel 5 yd pass from Nick Kmetz (David Bendit kick failed), 9-49 4:42, BAT 7 - COLFB09 27

  4th 14:50 BAT - M. Gregg 18 yd pass from T. Smith (Segall-Abrams kick failed), 7-63 2:33, BAT 13 - COLFB09 27

      05:59 COLFB09 - Nick Kmetz 1 yd run (David Bendit kick), 14-55 8:43, BAT 13 - COLFB09 34

      03:49 BAT - J. Squires 20 yd pass from T. Smith (Segall-Abrams kick), 12-0 2:10, BAT 20 - COLFB09 34

      01:42 BAT - T. Beaton 15 yd pass from T. Smith (Segall-Abrams kick), 2-69 0:28, BAT 27 - COLFB09 34

                                      BAT  COLFB09

  FIRST DOWNS...................       25       18

  RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............    19-13   48-141

  PASSING YDS (NET).............      365      214

  Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  52-32-1  21-14-0

  TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   71-378   69-355

  Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0

  Punt Returns-Yards............      0-0     1-12

  Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     6-95     2-52

  Interception Returns-Yards....      0-0     1-11

  Punts (Number-Avg)............   6-33.5   3-32.3

  Fumbles-Lost..................      0-0      0-0

  Penalties-Yards...............     3-20     8-81

  Possession Time...............    25:22    34:38

  Third-Down Conversions........  6 of 16  7 of 14

  Fourth-Down Conversions.......   3 of 4   3 of 4

  Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      3-5      6-6

  Sacks By: Number-Yards........     1-10     2-20

  RUSHING: Bates-T. Smith 7-10; D. Taylor 6-4; T. Beaton 3-2; P. George 3-minus 3.

  Colby-Dan Prunier 17-92; Nick Kmetz 13-30; Michael Cuqua 11-21; Stephen Carroll

  2-3; Ian Borthwick 1-0; Connor Walsh 3-minus 1; Matt Hellinger 1-minus 4.

  PASSING: Bates-T. Smith 31-51-1-361; T. Beaton 1-1-0-4. Colby-Nick Kmetz

  14-20-0-214; Stephen Carroll 0-1-0-0.

  RECEIVING: Bates-T. Beaton 10-121; M. Gregg 8-79; S. Wirth 6-81; D. Taylor 4-17;

  E. Tierney 2-42; J. Squires 2-25. Colby-Patrick Burns 6-104; Connor Walsh 3-42;

  Matt Hellinger 2-29; Nate Carson 1-23; Andrew Graham 1-11; Roger Bel 1-5.

  INTERCEPTIONS: Bates-None. Colby-Chris Copeland 1-11.

  FUMBLES: Bates-None. Colby-None.
















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