“It’s a big weekend,” Bates coach Mark Harriman said. “It’s alumni weekend. We’re looking forward to finally being home.”

Both the Bobcats and Ephs carry 0-2 records into the matchup. Besides searching for their first win, both are searching for better offensive production. The Bobcats scored seven points in each of their first two games. The Ephs are averaging 10 points per game.

Bates followed up a 38-7 loss to Trinity in week one with a 12-7 rain-soaked loss at Tufts last Saturday. Harriman was pleased to see his team make what he called “dramatic” improvements in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams, from their first game.

While the passing game suffered in the less-than-ideal conditions — sophomore QB Sandy Plashkes’ only completion in 10 attempts was a 30-yard touchdown to Brian Daly — Harriman said the offense reacted well when faced with having to be more one-dimensional.

“I thought we did a much better job buying in to what we were trying to do schematically,” he said. “The offensive line took a step forward, no question about that. Peter Boyer did a really nice job at dive back for us.”

“Again, it’s a bit of a work in progress. We knew that going in,” he added.

Williams, which dropped its opener to Colby, 9-7, then fell to Trinity, 38-13, is adjusting to new head coach Mark Raymond and a significant turnover in offensive personnel.

The Ephs are averaging 249 yards passing and 89 rushing, with freshman QB Jansen Durham completing 66 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

“They’re in a similar situation to us trying to play a young quarterback,” Harriman said. “They’ve still got some really good athletes.”

Junior running back Connor Harris led the Ephs in both rushing and receiving against Trinity with 89 total yards.

Bates’ defense hopes to build off a solid performance against Tufts. Senior linebacker once again led the unit with a career-high 17 tackles (11 solo) and a sack, which earned him NESCAC’s defensive player of the week honors. Senior safety Trevor Lyons, who had an interception last week, and the Bobcats’ secondary will try to limit Durham’s receiving options.

Bates has won four of the last five meetings with Williams but will be looking to avenge a 16-14 loss at Williams last year.

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