But judging by their contributions to the Bobcats’ first victory of the season, all three parts of the team wanted to impress the big alumni weekend crowd at Garcelon Field.

Bates’ offense, defense and special teams all played a big part in the 29-17 win over Williams.  

Led by Plashkes (10-for-24, 240 yards, four TDs)  and Williams (nine receptions, 223 yards, three TDs), the offense emerged from a sputtering start to turn in what was by far its most productive performance of the season.

“We had a connection today. It was a great day,” said Plashkes, a first-year starter. “He’s always open. It’s easy to find him. We’ve really got a connection going that we’ve been building over the last couple of games.”

After a slow start of its own, the Bobcats’ swarming defense lived up to its billing with seven sacks, a game-changing turnover in the first half, and by limiting the Ephs (0-3) to just a field goal in the second half.

“They’ve been playing really well,” Bates coach Mark Harriman said of the defense. “They’re a veteran unit and we have high expectations for them. I think today they really took it to the next level in terms of their execution and just being disciplined.”

Led by sophomore punter Justin Foley (43.5 average, four of 10 punts inside the 20), and Bates’ special teams came up with a key turnover, a fumble recovery by senior Trevor Lyons, early then controlled the battle for field position for the bulk of the game.

“Justin’s done a great job punting for us, and I think overall, our special teams were very solid today,” Harriman said. “When you get into a close ballgame, you’ve got to have plays made in the special teams.”

Foley and the punt coverage unit helped the Bobcats get even after Williams scored on its opening drive with a 40-yard TD pass. Foley boomed a 55-yard punt that took a high hop on the Garcelon turf to Ephs returner Jaelon Moaney, who tried to play the ball but fumbled it. Lyons recovered for Bates at the Ephs’ 4.

Three plays later, Plaskes and Williams hooked up on their first touchdown from 3 yards out to tie the game, 7-7.

Bates owned the field position battle for most of the second quarter and looked poised to take the lead after Plashkes’ 28-yard completion to Williams got them to the Ephs’ 14. But Plashkes fumbled an option pitch on the next play. Ephs safety Ben Anthony scooped it up and raced 80 yards down the sideline for a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter. 

The Bobcats responded on their next series. Plashkes found Williams wide open in the right flat for a 63-yard touchdown. 

“Any time we can get him in space, good things usually happen,” Harriman said. 

“We knew they were a press man-to-man team, so we motioned him to the play side and the (defender) was chasing,” Plashkes said. “We knew going in we were going to take a shot on that play. We had a good feeling it was going to work and it did.”

A missed extra point prevented Bates from tying the score, but Joe Frake made a diving interception on Williams’ next series to set the Bobcats up at the Ephs’ 27. Plashkes later found sophomore wide receiver Marcus Ross on a fade route in the far right corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown to put Bates in front for good, 19-14, with 3:34 remaining in the half.

Williams got an Adam Regensburg 38-yard field goal on its first drive of the second half to pull within 19-17.

Plashkes and Williams answered with their biggest play of the day when Bates got the ball back.

Plashkes found Williams wide open again in front of the Bates sideline near midfield. Williams made a couple of tacklers miss near the sideline, cut across the grain, kicked out of an ankle tackle and scampered to the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown.

“Frank made plays all day,” Plashkes said. “The offense looked good today. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Williams couldn’t keep many of its second-half drives going against the Bobcats’ veteran 3-5-3 defense. The run defense put the Ephs in long yardage situations, and Lyons, Sam Francis (11 tackles), Collin Richardson, Tyler Harrington and Walter Washington all got to QB Jansen Durham (15-for-36, 132 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) to keep the Ephs at a safe distance.

“We always focus on stopping the run, making them go three-and-out and holding them to 3 yards per carry,” said senior defensive end Kentavius Dumas, who had four tackles and 1/2 of a sack. 

The Bobcats limited the Ephs to 2.9 yards per carry on 42 attempts.

Grant DeWald added a 26-yard field goal to cap the scoring.

Peter Boyer led Bates with 47 yards on 15 carries.