Bates football team loses at Tufts, 21-12
Matt Gregg ’10 broke out with seven catches for 99 yards.
Terence Ryan ’07 had three tackles for a loss, including two quarterback sacks.
SOMERVILLE, Mass. — The Bates College football team squandered an early 9-0 lead and the chance to erase the Bobcats’ longstanding losing streak against NESCAC rival Tufts University in a 21-12 loss Saturday at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field.
The Jumbos (2-0) have now won the annual game between the teams every year since 1986, 21 straight games.
Sophomore WR David Halas (Southbury, Conn.) caught two touchdown passes from senior QB Matt Russo (Longmeadow, Mass.) and Tufts held Bates scoreless in the second half en route to the win on Homecoming Day at Tufts.
Bates (0-2) jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 17 minutes of play. Bobcat junior linebacker Anthony Begon (Lynn, Mass.) recovered a fumble at the Jumbo 28 after a bad snap from center with Russo in the shotgun. A 19-yard rush by senior tri-captain Jamie Walker (Needham, Mass.) and a pass interference call against Tufts were among the plays that set up a one-yard Brandon Colon (Manchester, N.H.) to senior fullback Adam Poplaski (Cheshire, Mass.) touchdown pass that gave Bates a 6-0 lead at 9:17 of the first.
The Bobcat defense continued to stifle the Jumbos, who had negative total yardage at the end of the first quarter. After getting the ball near midfield, the Bobcats moved into scoring position at the Tufts 11 with a 43-yard pass from Colon to freshman Matt Gregg (Milton, Mass.). Walker took it to the end zone on the next play, but an illegal block penalty negated the touchdown. Bates had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from sophomore Zach Demma (Holden, Mass.).
Tufts finally put it together on the ensuing possession. Russo and Halas connected for 24 yards to the Bates 17 on third down. Another 14-yard Russo to Halas pass put the Jumbos at the two, and junior fullback Matt Gaylord (Westfield, MA) took it in from there with 9:47 on the clock. That cut Bates’ lead to 9-7.
The Jumbos, who intercepted five Hamilton passes a week ago, took advantage of the second pick of the season by senior quad-captain Brett Holm (Longmeadow, Mass.) later in the quarter. Getting the ball at the Bates 33, Tufts rushed into a first-and-goal situation, then Russo found Halas for a five-yard TD reception at 2:24 that put Tufts up 14-9.
Bates engineered a fine two-minute drill to add a 25-yard field goal from Demma with 10 seconds left in the half that cut the margin to 14-12. Colon had big completions to junior Dave Philbrook (Portland, Maine) and to Gregg to set up the kick. They had moved the ball to the Tufts 2, but were pushed back by a false start penalty and held by the Jumbo defense on three incomplete passes.
The defenses held strong in a scoreless third quarter. Junior Nathan Scott (East Hartford, Conn.) intercepted a Colon pass late in the period. Another turnover early in the fourth gave the Jumbos the insurance that they needed. With Bates lined up to punt, Jumbo junior Gary Heffernan (Chelmsford, Mass.) recovered a bad snap at the Bobcat 32. Three plays later, Russo and Halas connected again from 21 yards out for a 21-12 Tufts lead at 10:53.
Tufts forced a punt, had a 15-play drive that consumed 7:13 and then had its third interception of the day off Colon, and eighth of the season as a team, by freshman Alex Perry (Danvers, Mass.) to lock down the victory.
Senior quad-captain Chris Decembreles (Walpole, Mass.) led Tufts defensively with eight tackles (2.5 for losses) and two pass break-ups. Hals caught four balls for 64 yards and Russo finished 13 for 21 for 131 yards passing. Tufts had just 199 total yards. After rushing for 181 yards last week, they gained 68 on 38 carries today.
Senior tri-captain Adam Kayce (North Easton, Mass.) had 12 stops at safety for Bates, including two for losses. Fellow tri-captain Terence Ryan (Milton, Mass.) was in on eight tackles, including two sacks. Gregg led all receivers with 99 yards on seven receptions and Colon threw for 179 yards on 17 of 39 passing. Walker led all rushers with 65 yards on 23 carries as the Bobcats out-gained Tufts with 238 yards.