Football Preview: Bobcats face important test at Tufts
Bates College (0-1) at Tufts University (1-0)
Sept. 30, 2006, 1 p.m.
Ellis Oval/Zinman Field, Somerville, Mass.
Tufts won 34-7 in Lewiston on Oct. 1, 2005, the Jumbos’ 20th straight victory over the Bobcats, a streak that dates back to 1986. Dylan MacNamara caught six passes for 56 yards for Bates, including a 5-yard touchdown reception from Brandon Colon. Tufts outgained Bates, 420 yards to 183.
After their win at Bates, the Jumbos lost their final six games to finish the season 2-6.
The 2005 Bates College football team finished 2-6 for the third consecutive season, yet showed flashes of accomplishing much more.
Three of the six losses told the story of a team with promise. At Williams College, the Bobcats led the Ephs (who finished 6-2) for nearly an entire game before succumbing by an 8-7 score. They led Bowdoin (who finished 6-2) 14-0 in the fourth quarter before losing by a touchdown, and succumbed to Colby (who finished 7-1) by seven points as well.
Can 2006 be the year the Bobcats break out of this rut? Several signs say yes.
The Bobcats’ hopes probably begin with their defense, where they return nine starters from 2005.
Bates ranked second in the NESCAC in quarterback sacks with 22, with First Team All-NESCAC end Terence Ryan collecting 10.5 of them, the highest total for any NESCAC player since New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini had the same number in 1993 for Wesleyan. Ryan, who also led the league in tackles for a loss with 12.5, figures to draw special interest from opposing offensive lines, yet the Bobcats can make them pay with high-quality pass rushers at other spots, including DE Anthony Begon, DT Eric Obeng, and ILB Todd Wilcox. The Bobcats hope to show their defensive backfield is much improved from last season, led by FS Adam Kayce, who tied for the NESCAC lead with 4 interceptions in 2005.
In addition to the ever-present issue of staying healthy, Bates’ offensive line may hold the keys to the team’s fortunes. The Bobcats return all but one of their starters from the offensive skill positions, but have only one offensive lineman coming back.
Junior quarterback Brandon Colon, the 2004 NESCAC Offensive Rookie of the Year, returns poised for a big season. Colon’s total passing yards took a slight dip in his sophomore year, from 1,388 to 1,165, but the strong-armed passer set a school record for lowest interception percentage, with only five giveaways in 226 attempts.
Colon’s primary target will be senior All-NESCAC wide receiver Dylan MacNamara, who ranked in the top four in the conference in receptions (5.5 per game) and receiving yards (63.9). RB Jamie Walker, who finished the season with two straight 100-yard games and was fourth in the NESCAC in rushing (77.7 ypg), has been very effective throughout his career when healthy. Sophomore Greg Thornton’s season ended with an injury in the second game, but the Bobcats should benefit from his explosiveness carrying the ball in 2006.
Three players from last year’s team were named All-NESCAC, including First Team selections Rich Aronson and Chris Decembrele. The prestigious New England Football Writers’ Division II-III All-New England Team also included Decembrele at defensive end. All-NESCAC Second Team pick and team captain Patrick Magoon was named to ESPN The Magazine’s Academic Team for the Northeast region. Wide receiver Brian Von Ancken set a new team record with three touchdown receptions against Bates last fall.
The Jumbos return strong nucleuses on both sides of the ball this fall. Team MVP Decembrele, linebacker Adam Arsenault, and defensive backs Bryan McDavitt and Brett Holm give the team All-Conference talent on defense. A new quarterback will work behind an experienced line with weapons that include speedy tailback Will Forde and a good receiving group including Von Ancken, Steve Menty and David Halas.
TUFTS LAST TIME OUT
The Tufts defense intercepted Hamilton College quarterback Ben Saccomano five times and sacked him four times during a shutout performance that led the Jumbos to a 17-0 victory against the Continentals in the 2006 NESCAC football opener at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field on Saturday.
On the other side of the ball, Tufts gained 326 yards of offense with a balanced attack. Senior QB Matt Russo, making his first collegiate start, completed 13 of 18 attempts for 145 yards and a touchdown, while junior tailback Brendan Georges gained 138 yards on 15 carries, including a 68-yarder in the fourth quarter that sealed the win.
Hamilton was able to pass the ball against the Jumbos, with Saccomano throwing for 183 on 20 completions in 44 attempts. Tufts stifled the Continental running attack though, allowing just 48 yards on 27 carries. A 25-yard run by junior Claudius Zorokong accounted for more than half that total.
Senior safety Bryan McDavitt finished his day with six tackles (four solo), including three for losses with a sack for seven yards. He also intercepted a pass and brought it back 35 yards, though he fumbled it away. Senior quad-captain Chris Decembrele led Tufts with eight stops (six solo). Menty caught seven balls for 61 yards.
BATES LAST TIME OUT
Senior wideout Mark Hannon scored a trio of backbreaking touchdowns in the first half — two on scoring strikes from senior quarterback Nick Kehoe and another on a 64-yard punt return — as the Amherst College football team defeated visiting NESCAC foe Bates College 31-6 on Saturday.
Amherst’s offense was dominant, but the defense was equally, if not more, holding Bates to just 159 yards of total offense.
Bates took advantage of an Amherst turnover to stave off the shutout, as junior cornerback Kevin Reyes (North Andover, Mass.) picked off a Kehoe attempt and logged a 32-yard return all the way to the Amherst 15. Bates senior running back Jamie Walker (Needham, Mass.) then capitalized with a three-yard touchdown rumble, but the Bobcats would never seriously threaten again.
Walker led Bates with 48 rushing yards on a workmanlike 19 carries. Colon finished 10-for-21 passing for 99 yards and two interceptions. Senior wide receiver Dylan MacNamara (San Francisco, Calif.) caught seven passes for 52 yards.
Senior defensive back Adam Kayce (North Easton, Mass.) paced the Bates defense with a game-high 12 tackles. Junior linebacker Ron DiGravio (Farmington, Maine) collected 10 tackles, including three for a loss. Junior linebacker Graham Raymond (Westfield, Mass.) and junior defensive end Anthony Begon (Lynn, Mass.) finished with nine tackles apiece, with Begon recording the Bobcats’ lone quarterback sack.
Sophomore Shawki White (Danville, Ill.), making his first collegiate start at cornerback, was a bright spot for the Bobcats, forcing two Amherst turnovers in the red zone in the second quarter. White forced Amherst wideout Justin Macione to fumble into the Bates end zone, which the Bobcats recovered for a touchback. Late in the quarter, White intercepted a pass at the Bates 8 and returned it 14 yards to keep the Bobcats out of further trouble.
The Bobcats emerged largely healthy from the game, with one big exception: senior Raoul Scott (Newton, Mass.), in his third season as the starting right tackle, broke his ankle and is lost for the season.
2006 Bates Schedule/Results
9/23 @ Amherst L, 6-31
9/30 @ Tufts 1 p.m.
10/7 WILLIAMS* 1 p.m.
10/14 WESLEYAN 1 p.m.
10/21 @ Middlebury 1 p.m.
10/28 COLBY** 1 p.m.
11/4 @ Bowdoin 12:30 p.m.
11/11 HAMILTON 12 p.m.
* Parents & Family Weekend
** Homecoming Weekend
TUFTS PROBABLE STARTERS
QB #9 Matt Russo
TB #34 Brian Cammuso
FB #10 Kevin Anderson
WR #8 David Halas
WR #84 Steve Menty
TE #82 Mark Jagiela
LT #50 Thomas Ames
LG #52 Max Hatfield-Biondo
C #59 Ryan McGeary
RG #73 Tim Lind
RT #70 Brian Schurko
PK #80 Oliver Snider
DE #14 Chris Decembrele
DT #58 Pete Christensen
NT #62 John Chappell
DT #66 Adam Swierk
DE #45 Gary Heffernan
LB #24 Stephen Albertine
LB #55 Tyson Reynoso
CB #5 Brett Holm
FS #28 Jourdon Cancienne
SS #40 Bryan McDavitt
CB #3 Nathan Scott
P #40 Bryan McDavitt
BATES PROBABLE STARTERS
QB #14 Brandon Colon
RB #39 Jamie Walker
FB #37 Adam Poplaski
TE #82 Ross Van Horn
LT #54 Ryan Wimberly
LG #72 Matt Lopez
C #58 John MacKenzie
RG #67 Brian Machunski
RT #64 Chris Ward
WR #11 Dylan MacNamara
WR #12 Dave Philbrook
DE #90 Terence Ryan
DT #94 Eric Obeng
DT #95 Chris Robinson
DE #43 Anthony Begon
ILB #57 Todd Wilcox
ILB #51 Graham Raymond
OLB #32 Ron DiGravio
ROV #40 Coleman Peeke
CB #1 Shawki White
FS #2 Adam Kayce
CB #9 Kevin Reyes
TUFTS STATISTICAL LEADERS
Matt Russo (13-for-18/145 yds./1 TD)
Brendan Georges (15 att./138 yds./1 TD)
Steve Menty (7 rec./61 yds./0 TD)
David Halas (2 rec./53 yds./1 TD)
Oliver Snider (1-1 FG/2-2 PAT)
Oliver Gray (6 punts/31.0 avg.)
Bryan McDavitt (2 punts/47.5 avg.)
BATES STATISTICAL LEADERS
Brandon Colon (10-for-21/99 yds./0 TD)
Jamie Walker (19 att./48 yds./1 TD)
Greg Thornton (6 att./33 yds./0 TD)
Dylan MacNamara (7 rec./52 yds./0 TD)
Ross Van Horn (2 rec./35 yds./0 TD)
Jason Starrett (2 KR/33 yds.)
2005 TEAM STATISTICAL COMPARISONS
Rushing Yards 181 yds. 60 yds.
Passing Yards 145 yds. 99 yds.
Total Offense 326 yds. 159 yds.
Total Points 17 6
Rushing Allowed 48 yds. 84 yds.
Passing Allowed 183 yds. 260 yds.
Total Offense Allowed 231 yds. 344 yds.
Total Points Allowed 0 31
THIS WEEK IN THE NESCAC
Hamilton at Wesleyan (Conn.), 1 p.m.
Amherst at Bowdoin, 1 p.m.
Middlebury at Colby, 1 p.m.
Bates at Tufts, 1 p.m.
Trinity (Conn.) at Williams, 1:30 p.m.