Middlebury quarterback McCallum Foote threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns, and scrambled for a key third-down conversion to keep the Panthers' final scoring drive alive in the fourth quarter, in a 28-17 victory at Bates on Saturday at Garcelon Field. Middlebury (4-1) extended its winning streak over Bates (2-3) to 25 games, dating back to 1988.
Bates took the lead three times in the first half, but Middlebury shut out the Bobcats in the second half, scoring 14 unanswered points for the win.
Foote completed 35-56 passes and was picked off once, by Ryan Newson in the first quarter. Five Middlebury receivers had five or more catches, led by Brendan Rankowitz (8-96) and William Sadik-Khan (8-56, 1 TD). Matt Rea rushed 11 times for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Ivan Reese received his first collegiate start for Bates, rushing for 101 yards on 21 attempts. James Semmonella, playing in his first collegiate game, gained 55 yards on six carries. The Bobcats' lone turnover in the game was a Matt Cannone interception thrown on fourth down late in the fourth quarter.
Cannone completed 8-18 passes for 103 yards and rushed 19 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. Nick LaSpada completed 2 of 4 passes, including a 6-yard touchdown to Mike Tomaino in the second quarter.
Tim Patricia had a game-high 17 tackles (12 solo) for Middlebury, while Jake Clapp added 10 tackles (6 solo), including half a sack.
Mike Kelleher led Bates in tackles with 12 (8 solo), to go with three pass breakups. Andrew Kukesh, made nine solo tackles, including three for a loss.
Bates scored the game's first points on its second drive, moving 63 yards on eight plays, including a 34-yard gain by Reese and a seven-yard run by Reese to convert a third and five. Cannone finished off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run on a misdirection play, and Charlie Donahue's extra point was good for a 7-0 lead.
Foote was intercepted by Newson on Middlebury's next possession, but Middlebury held Bates to a three-and-out and got the ball back at its 28. The Panthers then drove 72 yards on 11 plays, with Foote completing seven passes, including a five-yard strike to Sadik-Khan for the game-tying touchdown with 32 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Bates regained the lead on the next series, driving 59 yards as far as the Middlebury 11. Donahue's 28-yard field goal sailed through the uprights for a 10-7 lead.
On Middlebury's next possession, Rea scampered for 32 yards to convert a fourth and two from the Panther 40-yard line. Middlebury extended the drive with another fourth-down conversion, with Joey Zelkowitz picking up six yards on fourth and one to take the Panthers to the Bates 13. Three plays later, Rea punched it in on a second effort, and Michael Dola's PAT gave Middlebury a 14-10 lead.
LaSpada then played his first series at quarterback for the Bobcats and led the team on a nine-play, 62-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 20-yard completion to Kevin Davis and capped by LaSpada's six-yard strike to Tomaino, on which he displayed impressive patience in waiting for the wideout to break free in the back of the end zone. At intermission, Bates led 17-14.
Middlebury clamped down defensively in the second half, forcing Bates to punt the ball away on its first three possessions, neither of which got past Bates' 36-yard line. The Panthers also punted on their first three series of the half, but went ahead for good on the fourth try, with an 11-play, 72-yard drive. From the Bates nine, Foote fired to rookie receiver Grant Luna near the right pylon, and Luna stuck the ball over the goal-line plane before being pushed out for the go-ahead touchdown.
Bates responded with its only extended drive of the second half. The Bobcats moved from their own 14 up into Middlebury territory on three straight plays: a 15-yard Semmonella gain, a 15-yard keeper by Cannone through a gaping hole in the line, and a 19-yard carry by Semmonella. On third and eight at the Middlebury 35, receiver Mark Riley made his second career catch on perhaps Bates' best play of the day, leaping high for a grab over the middle that was good for 23 yards to the Middlebury 12. Middlebury stuffed the drive at the six-yard line, and Donahue's 23-yard field goal attempt traveled wide right to keep the score at 21-17.
Middlebury forced a three-and-out on Bates' ensuing possession, then added a back-breaking touchdown for a 28-17 lead. The Panthers faced third and four at the Bates 25, and Foote was flushed out of the pocket, but he was able to weave through a broken field for 22 yards before he was dragged down by Kukesh at the three. Zelkowitz punched it in from there for the 11-point advantage.
Shawn Doherty returned the ensuing kickoff from the end zone up to the Bates 47 to keep the Bobcats' hopes alive. Reese pounded for a two-yard gain on fourth and one to keep the drive alive at Middlebury's 42. Cannone hit Tomaino on the sideline for eight more yards, but then was sacked by Clapp and Bryant Adams. After an incompletion to Davis, Cannone's pass on fourth and four was intercepted by Jared Onouye, effectively ending Bates' hopes with 3:22 left in the game.
Middlebury will host undefeated Trinity on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.