It has been a first-half schedule of extremes for the Bates College football team.

The Bobcats opened with defending NESCAC champion Trinity, throwing a scare into the Bantams, who have soldiered on to their typical 3-0 start.

Next up were Tufts and Williams, two old nemeses who have fallen upon hard times in recent years against Bates. Each school is still seeking its initial win of the season after the Bobcats rallied for a pair of fourth-quarter victories.

Now it’s back to other end of the spectrum. Bates (2-1) will hit the road to face arguably the hottest team in the league when it meets Wesleyan (3-0) on Saturday.

Kickoff at Corwin Stadium in Middletown, Conn., is set for 1 p.m.

Wesleyan shares first place with Trinity and Amherst, but the Cardinals have made it look easy. They have outscored their first three opponents by a staggering total of 128-15.


Saturday’s scrap is a battle of NESCAC’s nouveau-riche. Both programs went 5-3 in 2012 to end long droughts without a winning season. While much was said and written about Bates’ 31-year streak, Wesleyan hadn’t been on the plus side of the ledger since 2002.

The building block for the Cardinals’ run was a 24-22 victory in Lewiston, and many of the players responsible — particularly at the offensive skill positions — are back for another go-round.

Quarterback Jesse Warren threw three touchdowns in Wesleyan’s win over Bates, its 27th in 31 tries. Bates also intercepted Warren three times, however.

After LaDarius Drew was knocked from the game on only his seventh carry, Kyle Gibson lugged it 32 times for 141 yards to lead the Cardinals to victory.

Both Drew and Gibson have returned to supply Wesleyan’s one-two punch behind Warren. Colby can testify to that. Both backs cleared the century mark in a 41-0 rout of the Mules one week ago.

Warren has amassed eight touchdowns through the air against no interceptions, leading Wesleyan to its second straight 3-0 start and the 18th in school history.


Although less balanced, Bates’ offense has been equally prolific at churning the clock and generating first downs, particularly late in games. The Bobcats drove 96 yards to the winning score in their 14-10 win over Williams.

Bates leads NESCAC with over 280 rushing yards per game. Shawn Doherty and Ryan Curit rank second and sixth, respectively, among the league’s individual leaders.

Matt Cannone made his first start at quarterback against Williams.

Wesleyan held Colby to 152 net yards in the shutout on Oct. 5.

The Bobcats’ defense has continued its 2012 trend of game-changing takeaways. Adam Cuomo and Josh Freedland each intercepted a fourth-quarter pass a week ago. Freedland made his first career pick deep in Bates territory to secure the win in the closing season.

Other keys to Bates’ defense are junior linebacker Andrew Kukesh, a preseason All-America selection who leads the league with 11 tackles per game, and sophomore Tucker Oniskey, who has knocked down six passes at the line of scrimmage and forced a pair of fumbles.


Wesleyan’s win a year ago was the Cardinals’ fourth consecutive triumph in the series by eight points or fewer.

Bates’ second-half schedule includes its traditional, in-state rivals.

The Bobcats host Middlebury (2-1) next week before traveling to Colby (1-2) on Oct. 26. That’s followed by the final home game against Bowdoin (1-2) and a trip to Hamilton (0-3).

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