Football runs over Bates for NESCAC win in season finale

Joe Park '22 (Josh McKee photo)
Joe Park '22 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College's Joe Park '22 ran for a season-high 187 yards and three touchdowns, and the Continentals posted a 38-13 NESCAC victory against the Bates College Bobcats at Bates' Garcelon Field on Saturday afternoon.

Hamilton (3-6 NESCAC) trailed 13-12 at the half but the Continentals scored 13 points in the third quarter and 13 more in the fourth as they pulled away from the winless Bobcats. Hamilton, which finished with 292 yards rushing and averaged 7.7 per carry, has won four in a row against Bates and leads the all-time series, 22-19.

Joe Schmidt '20, who is second in the conference in total receptions and receptions per game, added 73 yards and his first rushing touchdown for the Continentals on just seven carries. Kenny Gray '20 was 12 of 19 passing for 70 yards with an interception. Christian Donahoe '20 led the receiving corps with four catches for 39 yards.

Hamilton's defense limited the Bobcats to 213 yards of total offense and 12 first downs, forced four turnovers and blocked three kicks. Carmine Bruno '20 was credited with nine tackles including a sack and James Ball '21 chipped in nine stops. Alex Ganter '19 also had nine tackles including three for a loss, recovered a fumble and blocked an extra-point attempt. Sean Tolton '19 recorded a sack and Cole Burchill '19 forced a fumble. Sam Bowen '20, Justin Leigh '20 and Jack Parker '22 had interceptions, and Ian Esliker '21 and Dana Marrocco '19 blocked one punt apiece. Bowen broke up three passes.

Kevin Claflin completed 7 of 22 passes for 103 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his first career start for Bates (0-9). Kyle Flaherty carried the ball 29 times for 86 yards, and Jackson Hayes caught three passes for 71 yards.

Anthony Costa and Jon Lindgren made six tackles apiece, and Lindgren and Peter Daley posted sacks for the Bobcats. Walter Washington forced a fumble and Art Churchwell had an interception.

The Continentals took the lead for good at 18-13 with 6:09 left in the third quarter thanks to their special teams. Bates faced fourth down and seven from its own 31-yard line and brought out the punt team. Marrocco burst through the middle of the line and blocked the kick, and Jared Schwartz '22 recovered the loose ball at the 22 and waltzed into the end zone. It marked the second time this season Hamilton had returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.

Esliker blocked another punt by the Bobcats on their next possession and it bounced out-of-bounds at the Bates 10. On the next play Schmidt took the direct snap out of the wildcat formation and ran around right end. He escaped a tackle at the line of scrimmage and dove into the end zone inside the pylon for a 24-13 advantage with 3:37 remaining in the third.

The Bobcats next possession ended with a fumble that Ganter recovered at his own 37 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Bates forced a punt four plays later, but on fourth-and-5 the Bobcats were flagged for running into the kicker and gave the Continentals a first down at the Bates 42. Park took the direct snap and ran straight up the middle where he disppeared briefly in a mass of bodies at the 35. Suddenly he broke out of the pack and sprinted the rest of the way untouched into the end zone for a 31-13 cushion with 12:05 to go.

Bowen's interception at the Hamilton 48 led to the Continentals' last touchdown. Park made it 37-13 with 7:46 left when he scored on a 3-yard run on Hamilton's sixth straight running play. He took the direct snap, ran around right end, was met by three tacklers just short of the goal line and backed into the end zone anyway. The Bobcats' last two drives ended with interceptions as well.

Sam Thoreen '22 gave the Continentals a 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal with 10:47 remaining in the first quarter. Thoreen made 5 of 7 field goal attempts this year.

Hamilton took a 5-0 lead two plays after a muffed punt pinned Bates back its own 2-yard line late in the first quarter. Claflin took the shotgun snap in his own end zone and was tackled by Jeremy Barr '21 behind the goal line for a safety as Claflin tried to run around left end with 38 seconds to go.

The Bobcats took their first lead after a 4-yard touchdown pass from Claflin to Matt Golden capped a 12-play, 70-yard drive with 7:32 left in the second quarter.

The Continentals moved back in front with 3:23 remaining in the half on a 46-yard run by Park. Gray handed off to Park who went up the middle, broke two tackles near the 30, and raced to the left pylon. Thoreen's extra point made it 12-6. Bates retook the lead at 13-12 with 1:09 to go on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Claflin to Hayes and Justin Foley's PAT.