Bates College boasted one of leading defenses in NCAA Division III football during the 2012 season with one notable exception. Middlebury and quarterback McCallum Foote picked apart the Bobcats through the air.

The good news for the Bobcats is that they will get another chance on their home turf. The bad news: Foote and the Panthers continue to chalk up passing yardage, touchdowns and wins at a blistering pace.

Middlebury (3-1) visits Bates (2-2) for a 1 p.m. Saturday kickoff at Garcelon Field.

Bates also brought a break-even mark into the midseason clash in Vermont one year ago. Middlebury remained unbeaten with its 38-23 triumph, but the Bobcats took care of Colby, Bowdoin and Hamilton in succession to secure their first winning season in 31 autumns.

Foote was a staggering 36-for-50 for 436 yards and five touchdowns against Bates in the most recent meeting.

A senior and the Panthers’ only captain, Foote (1,417 yards) is more than 500 yards ahead of every other quarterback in NESCAC this season. He also is the league’s runaway leader in completions (140) and attempts (226) and is second with nine touchdowns.

One number that might get Bates’ attention are Foote’s eight interceptions, also most in the conference. Six different Bobcats have a takeaway through four games. Adam Cuomo, Gilbert Brown, Josh Freedland, Michael Lee and Pat Gilligan each have picked off a pass.

Four Middlebury receivers have caught at least 20 passes to date, led by tight end William Sadik-Khan (30 receptions, 314 yards, four touchdowns). Foote also looks to Joey Zelkowitz (27 catches), Brendan Rankowitz (24) and Matt Minno (22).

Zelkowitz is enough of a threat out of the backfield to force Bates to respect Middlebury’s running game, as evidenced by his 8-yard touchdown run with 4:03 remaining to give Middlebury a 21-14 win over Williams this past weekend. The Panthers dropped the Ephs to 0-4 for the first time in 66 years.

Matt Rea is the Panthers’ leading rusher with 63 carries for 207 yards.

To call this week’s game a clash of styles is putting it mildly. Bates was NESCAC’s runaway leader in rushing yardage and stood among the top 10 in the nation until a pedestrian showing in a 35-7 loss at Wesleyan. The undefeated Cardinals held the Bobcats to 125 yards.

That was a notable accomplishment by Wesleyan, because opponents have been hard pressed to slow down slotback Shawn Doherty in any capacity. Bates’ explosive senior has rushed for 366 yards, returned kicks for 273 more and added 36 on the receiving end.

Doherty and Ryan Curit are the focus of Bates’ triple option, but the Bobcats have shown an increased ability to throw the ball in recent weeks.

Matt Cannone and Nick LaSpada were a combined 9-for-13 through the air against Wesleyan after Bates completed only 11 passes in the first three games combined.

Middlebury’s top defenders are Tim Patricia and Matt Crimmins at linebacker and Will Bain in the secondary.

Bates’ resurgence has turned the tables on many NESCAC opponents in recent seasons, but the Bobcats remain stymied by the Panthers. Middlebury’s most recent loss to Bates came at the end of the Reagan administration — a 27-24 verdict in 1988.

The Panthers aim for their 25th consecutive victory in the series Saturday.

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