Bobcat Beat: Bates football looking to bounce back against Bantams

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Now it’s time for the Bates Bobcats to get up to speed.

Bates’ NESCAC football season got off to a slow start in a 41-17 loss to Amherst last Saturday.

“One thing that was very evident is that we needed to see that type of game speed to help us out for the rest of the season,” head coach Mark Harriman said.

If the schedule gets any easier in Week 2, it’s not by much. Defending champions Trinity, which ended Amherst’s three-year NESCAC reign in 2016, travels to Lewiston to face Bates at Garcelon Field on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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Obviously, a 24-point margin of defeat is not ideal, but Harriman said the Bobcats saw positives and negatives in their opening game.

Their offense was a mix of both.

“We moved the ball relatively well in the early part of the game,” Harriman said, “we just shot ourselves in the foot with a couple penalties and a couple of assignment mistakes that knocked us back.”

Defensively, Harriman said there were too many missed tackles.

On the positive side, Harriman said that most of the first-time starters rose to the occasion.

“I thought they responded well. They certainly got ready to play during the week,” Harriman said.

As they prepare for the Bantams, Harriman said the focus will be mostly on Bates.

“What I told the team … it’s all about us, it’s not about who we’re playing,” Harriman said.

He added: “It’s fundamentally, technique-wise, assignment-wise, it just starts with each individual, each guy being better at his position, but then being better overall in our offensive unit, defensive unit. If we can do that, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Running to the Max

Amherst has the luxury of having its 2015 (Reece Foy) and 2016 (Nick Morales) starting quarterbacks on the roster.

However, neither started in Week 1. Instead, sophomore Ollie Eberth tore up the Bobcats’ defense.

This week, Bates knows what’s coming. Or, rather, who.

Trinity junior Max Chipouras ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries in the Bantams’ 35-0 win over Colby. That’s an average of 8.7 yards per carry.

“Their running back is one of the best running backs that I’ve seen in this conference in the time that I’ve been here,” Harriman, in his 20th season at Bates, said.

Harriman said that Saturday’s game against Trinity will be “another litmus test for us to see where we are.”

Kicking it

Bates’ kicking game was a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy season-opener.

Senior Grant DeWald kicked a career-long 38-yard field goal as time expired in the first half and drilled both his extra-point attempts.

Junior Justin Foley pinned three punts inside Amherst’s 20-yard line and averaged 40.8 yards on eight punts.

“Justin, I think his legs stronger this year than it was last year,” Harriman said. “He did a great job, dropped a couple in tight but also had a 60-yard punt, in the air for 60 yards.”

Special teams helped Bates dominate the field position battle early in the game, with kicks and returns.

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