Bobcats set to battle for CBB football title at Bowdoin
|First-year QB Ryan Katon’s success at Bowdoin may hinge on the success of the Bobcats’ running game.|
Football Game Preview: Bates Bobcats (1-5) at Bowdoin Polar Bears (2-4)
November 1, 2008 – 12:30 p.m. – Whittier Field, Brunswick
Fresh off their first victory of the season, the Bates Bobcats head to Brunswick to take on Maine rival Bowdoin College. Bates looks to build upon an impressive Homecoming victory on Saturday that saw the Bobcats force 10 turnovers against Colby. Leading the way was Bates DB Kyle McAllister — the junior accounted for 7 tackles, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries (1 returned for a TD), an effort good enough to earn him his second NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honor this season.
Not lost in the defensive highlight reel was the performance of Bobcat QB Ryan Katon. The freshman signal caller completed 13 of 23 passes for 139 yards and a career-high 3 touchdowns. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that Katon completed those 13 passes to eight different receivers on the day.
Bowdoin, too, enters the game on the heels of an impressive victory, having knocked off Wesleyan on the road last weekend, 17-10. Junior QB Oliver Kell had his hands in both Polar Bear touchdowns; a 19-yard pass to Ian Kerry and a 5-yard scoring scramble that sealed the deal late in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals. If Bowdoin hopes to move towards its third straight CBB title on Saturday, Kell will need to have another solid all-around performance to pace the offense.
Bowdoin looks to defend their CBB Title on Saturday and have enjoyed quite a bit of success when facing that challenge in the past. Of their 16 outright CBB titles, six of them were won after taking the trophy the year before. The Polar Bears won last year’s clincher against Bates, 31-7, with the highlight coming as time expired in the first half. It was then that Bowdoin WR Nick Tomaino came down with a 40-yard pass from Kell in the corner of the end zone, tying the score at 7. Bowdoin was able to carry the momentum into the second half, outscoring Bates 24-0 in the final two quarters.
The Bobcats’ last CBB Title came in 2002 when they defeated Colby 19-14 and overcame Bowdoin in a shootout, 48-28, behind seven touchdowns from running back Sean Atkins ’03. Bates last beat Bowdoin in 2003, topping the Polar Bears 20-17 on Garcelon Field.
KEYS TO THE GAME: BATES
Keep the Train Rollin’
In a sport where momentum is king, the Bobcats need to build upon their defensive showing last week and contain a Bowdoin pass offense that is averaging over 200 yards per game. Pressure from the defensive front can throw a wrench into any passing scheme. Bates ranks third in the conference in pass defense and much of their success can be attributed to the pressure from the Bates front four, including defensive ends Rich McNeil and Chris Hertz and tackles Mark Liu and Devin Horvath. The Bobcats will need more of the same to slow down Bowdoin QB Oliver Kell and his slew of talented pass catchers.
Run Success = Pass Success
Bates has struggled to establish a consistent ground attack through the first six games of the season, but the Bobcats will need senior RB Greg Thornton and junior RB Judd Smith to find some room to run on Saturday. If the Bobcat offensive line can create some holes early for Thornton and Smith, it will slow the Bowdoin pass rush and ease the pressure on Katon. This is a crucial aspect of the game: Bowdoin has sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times this season, a number good enough for fifth in the NESCAC.
KEYS TO THE GAME: BOWDOIN
Big Plays on a Big Day
As noted earlier, the Bowdoin passing game is one of the best in the conference. The Polar Bears will look to showcase that attack in order to establish an early lead on Senior Day in Brunswick. Kell’s three main targets are senior Tim Kelleher, junior Justin Starr, and the aforementioned senior Ian Kerry. All three have accounted for more than 200 yards receiving on the year, and a member of the trio has been on the receiving end of three Kell touchdown strikes thus far.
Field Position, Field Position, Field Position
Bowdoin punter Nolan McNair should be recognized as one of the bright spots for the Polar Bears, but the efforts of a punter often goes unnoticed. The senior ranks No. 2 in the conference, netting an average of 37.5 yards per punt, and his work is crucial in this matchup if Bowdoin hopes to win the field position battle. Against a Bates squad that ranks last in the NESCAC in the same statistic, Bowdoin must exploit this advantage and limit short-field scoring opportunities for the Bobcats, at the same time setting up favorable offensive situations for their own offense.
AROUND THE NESCAC
Colby (3-3) at Tufts (3-3): Both squads look to bounce back after tough losses to Bates and Amherst, respectively. Tufts RB Will Forde is a player to watch: his 691 rushing yards rank No. 2 in the conference.
Middlebury (3-3) at Hamilton (2-4): Middlebury QB Donald McKillop leads all NESCAC quarterbacks in both completions and passing yards, but the Hamilton defense should test the sophomore. It ranks third in the league in total defense.
Amherst (5-1) at Trinity (6-0): In a matchup of league powers, the Lord Jeffs look to knock off the Bantams and take over the top spot in the league standings, but Trinity is riding a 30-game home winning streak. Trinity QB Eric McGrath’s 13 touchdown passes lead the conference, but he may need a few more in a contest that could turn into a shootout. The two squads come into the game ranked first and second in the NESCAC in total offense on the season.
Wesleyan (1-5) at Williams (4-2): After last week’s loss to Bowdoin, the Cardinals look to regroup in Williamstown against the always formidable Ephs. Williams RB Brian Morrissey leads the league in rushing through six games and will look to add to this total on Saturday. The Wesleyan rush defense has allowed 175.2/yards per game on the year.