Fittingly, on the first official weekend of fall, the Bates football team began their 2016 season. The Bobcats lost 38-7 away against Trinity in a game that was closer than the scoreline indicates.
Last Saturday’s game against Trinity was Bates’ first of eight conference matchups this fall. The NESCAC is unique relative to other division III conferences in that its football teams do not play an out of conference schedule, and are not eligible to compete in the NCAA division III championships at the end of the year. This means that every game counts for Bates’ gridiron gang, but starting the season on the road can be challenging.
“Playing on the road is always an interesting dynamic for the first game of the season. You are so juiced up and ready to go but you have to endure a long bus ride and an overnight stay before you can get after it,” said linebacker Max Breschi ‘18
The Bantams, who were introducing a renovated Jessee/Miller stadium that includes a new jumbotron this year, beat the Bobcat’s in the team’s traditional opening match-up for the 21st time in a row, a remarkable feat that dates back to 1979. However Trinity, a perennial NESCAC powerhouse who have had just one losing season in the past 25 years, had their hands full with the Bobcats in the first half.
On the opening drive of the game, new Bobcat quarterback Sandy Plashkes ‘19 orchestrated an effective march down the field, spurred by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by the Bantams, and his own 57 yard rush into scoring position. His three yard touchdown plunge two plays later put Bates up 7-0 early.
The Bobcat defense was resolute, and made that touchdown stand up for most of the first half, limiting Trinity to just a field goal and three punts on their opening four drives. “During the first half we were really flying around on all cylinders and keeping their game plan in check,” said Breschi, who finished the season-opener with seven tackles. The Bobcats wouldnt relinquish the lead until the 8:41 mark in the second quarter, when Bantam quarterback Sonny Puzzo ‘18 found the endzone to put his team up for good.
Puzzo would finish the game with an efficient stat line, going 17-26 for 182 and three scores. In the second half, the Bantams turned to their run game and effectively ran away with the contest, amassing 295 yards total yards on the ground, and two scores in the second half. The Bantams were the benefactors of a couple of Bobcat turnovers in the second half as well, including a Plashkes interception in the red zone.
As is the nature of the beast, the team has naught to do but put this game behind them, and look forward to another tough matchup away against Tufts this weekend. “We actually have a saying on defense,” said defensive lineman Andrew Segal ‘17, “‘put it down’ which essentially means, put the ball down anywhere on the field at any point in any game, and our approach will remain the same. So when thinking about practice this week leading up to our game with Tufts on Saturday, the only thing I know is ‘put it down’, we’ll take care of the rest.”