Football Preview: Bobcats seek Homecoming win vs. 3-1 Panthers
Live Audio Streaming
Bates College has partnered with Teamline to make live play-by-play of 2007 season home football games available to listeners from anywhere.
Veteran announcer Al Harvie ’65 will be making the call from Garcelon Field for each home game.
There are two simple ways to listen in on the play-by-play:
- Free via the Internet. Simply follow this link or click on the Teamline logo above.
- Via any telephone for $5 per game. To access the game via any phone just dial (216) 502-3200. Enter team code 0424 when prompted. Long distance charges may apply, depending on your particular long distance plan or provider.
Captain Todd Wilcox ’08 (shown after a quarterback sack in the Tufts game) and the Bates defense seek to rebound from two straight tough weeks on the road. (Phyllis Graber Jensen photo)
Middlebury leads the all-time series against the Bobcats, 32-14-3. Since 1970, the Panthers have won all but two contests and have won 18 in a row since 1988.
On Oct. 21, 2006, Bates traveled to Middlebury midway through the season in search of their first win and were greeted by a 3-1 Panther team. Following an exciting first half, the Panthers took a 10-7 lead into the locker room. In the end Middlebury would prove too strong for the Bobcats, scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half to seal a 31-7 victory at home.
Although Middlebury entered the game with the leading rusher in the NESCAC, Stefan Hrdina, the Panthers looked to the air and senior quarterback Tiger Lyon. The game plan was clearly to stay away from the run and the stingy Bobcats run defense, and exploit a secondary that struggled in 2006.
The first half went back and forth: Middlebury drew first blood only two minutes into the contest on a 59-yard screen pass from Lyon to Hrdina. Bates answered early in the second quarter: set up by a 16-yard connection on 3rd and 12 from quarterback Brandon Colon to Matt Gregg, Jamie Walker took three straight carries and put the ball in the end zone, tying the game at 7-7. A 41-yard Steve Hauschka field goal with 2:52 left in the first half would be the only other scoring of the first half.
Bates came out in the second half looking to put together a drive to take the lead. But their hopes evaporated quickly when Colon was picked off by Matthew Morrissey just three plays into the second half. Middlebury capitalized on the turnover and great field position when Lyon found his receiver, David Randolph, over the middle for a 19-yard scoring strike, increasing the deficit to 17-7. Lyon and the Panthers did not look back: Lyon added another touchdown pass and a rushing touchdown of his own on way to a 31-7 victory.
The Panthers come to Garcelon averaging 26.5 points per game while giving up just 14 points a game, ranking third in the NESCAC in both categories. The Panther offense leads the NESCAC in rushing, averaging 193 yards a game on the ground, nearly 30 more yards a game than second-ranked Amherst.
Accounting for most of these yards on the ground is senior running back David Randolph, second in the NESCAC with 82 yards per game. Complementing the Panthers’ exceptional rushing offense is freshman quarterback Donald McKillop, currently fifth in the NESCAC with 171 yards per game through the air. McKillop’s favorite target is junior wideout Andrew Matson. Matson is fourth in the league with 65.8 yards per game receiving and has caught all five of McKillop’s touchdown passes.
Overall, the success of the Panthers is fueled by a stout offensive line. In addition to driving the league’s leading rush offense, they are first in the league in sacks-against, allowing opponents to get to McKillop a mere four times in four games.
The Panthers’ defensive resume is equally impressive. Middlebury currently ranks third in the NESCAC in total defense, allowing 305 yards per game. Leading the way for the defense is senior linebacker Erik Woodring. Woodring in four weeks of play this season has received NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice. With 59 tackles through four games, Woodring leads the conference in tackles and spearheads a rush defense that ranks fifth in the league and first in limiting third down conversions, with opponents only converting 29 percent of third downs.
The Middlebury pass defense is ranked second in the NESCAC and leads the league in yards per attempt at 4.6. Senior linebacker Nathan Clancy ranks second in the league in fumbles forced and first in fumble recoveries, forming an impressive linebacker duo with Woodring. Providing the pass rush is junior defensive lineman David Ellis, who leads the team with 2.5 sacks on the year.
Bates College enters week five of the season averaging 16.8 points per game and giving up 32.8 points a game, seventh and last in the NESCAC, respectively. At ninth in the league in total offense with 268 yards per game, the Bobcats have discovered the majority of their offense through the air. Bates averages 170 yards of passing per game, led by senior quarterback Brandon Colon, who currently ranks sixth in the league in yards per game. Colon, who set a new Bates record for completions this season (currently with 376), needs only 58 passing yards to tie Dan Hooley ’97′s Bates record of 4,488 career yards.
Among Colon’s favorite targets this year is senior tight end Ross Van Horn, who through four games has 14 receptions and is averaging 11.7 yards per catch. Sophomore wide receivers Matt Gregg (14 receptions, 174 yards) and Tom Beaton (12 receptions, 191 yards) make for a potent trio. Juniors Greg Thornton and Shawki White carry the rushing load for the Bobcats, a rushing offense that averages 98 yards per game, good for eighth in the NESCAC. Additionally, sophomore Judd Smith emerged last week as a solid short-yardage back for the Bobcats, scoring two touchdowns and rushing for 38 yards against Wesleyan. Anchoring the offense is an experienced offensive line led by seniors Brian Machunski, Ryan Wimberly and Raoul Scott. Bates’ offensive line ranks third in the NESCAC in sacks allowed, with only six sacks given up through four games.
The defense for the Bobcats has had its success and struggles in each game of the 2007 campaign. Bates is ranked last in the NESCAC in terms of total defense, allowing 409 yards per game, and last in the lead in rushing defense, giving up 219 yards on the ground per game. Senior captain Todd Wilcox is currently tied for third in the league with 10 tackles a game, as the Bobcats’ leading run stopper at the inside linebacker position. Through the air, opponents have had a tougher time being successful against Bates. Led by sophomore free safety standout Kyle McAllister, who is currently tied for first in the league with four interceptions on the season, Bates is fourth in the league in pass defense giving up 190 yards per game through the air.