LEWISTON, ME – On a sunny day in southern Maine this Saturday, the Bates College Bobcats (1-2) felled the Williams College Ephs (0-3) by a score of 29-17. Williams kept the game close throughout the first half, but faded down the stretch as the Bobcats solidified and held their lead until the final whistle.
This is Williams' eighth consecutive loss, and the Bobcats' fifth win over the Ephs in their last six meetings.
Williams jumped out to an early start, converting the very first drive of the game into points behind the arm of first-year QB Jansen Durham. Durham connected with Jaelon Moaney for twenty yards on third and long to keep the drive alive, and later hit Kelen Hatheway for a 40-yard touchdown pass, giving the Ephs only their second lead of the season.
After struggling to get their offense moving on their first few drives, the Bobcats took advantage of a Williams misstep to get on the board. Returner Jaelon Moaney fumbled a Bates punt on his own 4-yard line, where it was recovered by Trevor Lyons. Two plays later, Bates QB Sandy Plashkes found Frank Williams in the end zone, equalizing the score at seven apiece halfway through the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, with Bates threatening to score from inside the red zone, the Eph defense turned the tables. When Plashkes missed his target on a pitch play, first-year Ben Anthony picked it up and returned it 80 yards for a Williams touchdown, giving the Ephs a 14-7 lead in spectacular fashion with 7:03 to go in the half.
Bates answered almost instantly. On third and eight from their own 37, Sandy Plashkes connected with Frank Williams for a 63-yard score. The extra point failed, however, leaving the score 14-13 in the Ephs' favor.
Bates retained their newfound momentum when they took their turn on defense; Joe Frake picked off Jansen Durham at the Williams 27, giving the Bobcat offense another prime shot at points. After Tyler Janssen picked up a first down on the ground, Plashkes threw his third touchdown pass of the day, this time a 17-yarder to Marcus Ross. A two-point conversion attempt was stuffed by Williams, and Bates led 19-14 going into halftime.
Williams opened the scoring in the second half. After a thrilling 51-yard rush by Connor Harris, Adam Regensburg, the Ephs' placekicker as well as punter and leading wide receiver, knocked through a 38-yard field goal to narrow the his team's deficit to two, 19-17. This, however, was the last time Williams would score in the contest.
Bates answered on their next drive. Under pressure on third down at his own 27, Sandy Plashkes shuffled out of the pocket and connected with Frank Williams, who shook free from his defender and broke two more tackles on his way to the end zone. Grant DeWald hit the extra point, bringing the score to 26-17 early in the third quarter. Later in the quarter, following a 27-yard rush by Sandy Plashkes, Bates added another three points to their lead with a 26-yard field goal by DeWald, bringing the score to what would be the final tally, 29-17.
After the game, Williams head coach Mark Raymond saw the game as defined by big plays: "We fell victim to some big plays defensively; Bates completed some long passes, and that really hurt us. We came out of the gate and got a touchdown—we were able to make some big plays too—but it just wasn't enough."
Bates had averaged only 33 yards passing in the two previous games this season, but a stout Williams rush defense that kept the Bobcats to only 107 yards on 50 attempts (2.1 avg.) forced them to rely on the passing game for much of their offense. QB Sandy Plashkes and receiver Frank Williams answered the call; Plashkes went 10-24 for 240 yards and accounted for all four of Bates' touchdowns, while Williams registered a remarkable 223 yards receiving on 9 catches, three for scores.
For the Ephs, Jansen Durham completed 15 of his 34 pass attempts for 140 yards, plus a touchdown and an interception. Adam Regensburg led Eph receivers with 54 yards on 5 catches, and Connor Harris put in a career game, notching 151 yards on 24 rushes. Peter Boyer led the Bobcats on the ground with 47 yards on 15 carries.
On the defensive side, Eph Russell Monyette led all tacklers with 13, while Jameson Demarco and Sam Gowen both contributed sacks. Sam Francis led the Bobcats with 11 tackles and a sack, Joe Frake contributed an interception and half a sack, and Collin Richardson, Walter Washington, Trevor Lyons, and Tyler Harrington all contributed solo sacks.
Coach Raymond was pleased with his team's ability to combat the run, and in the coming days he is looking for the team to "just keep getting better as a football team. We've just got to keep working."
Next week, Williams will host the undefeated Middlebury Panthers, while Bates will face Wesleyan.