Bates College quarterback Brendan Costa tried to shake Tufts defender Tylor Scales during their game on Garcelon Field at Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.

Head coach Mark Harriman and the Bates College football coaching staff are handing the offense to freshman Brendan Costa.

Costa, from Westport, Massachusetts, took over at quarterback during the second quarter of last week’s 37-17 loss to Tufts and provided a spark that the Bobcats’ offense has lacked so far this season.

He turned a broken play into a 70-yard touchdown run — Bates’ first first-half touchdown of 2017 — and in the third quarter got the Bobcats within 13 points, 30-17, heading into the fourth quarter, which is by far the closest they have been through three games.

Costa made plays on fourth down, moved the ball with his legs and, in general, opened up the offense. He gained 97 yards on 16 carries and completed 14 of 33 passes for 134 yards. Those passing numbers would have been even better if not for several dropped passes in the fourth quarter.

“He’s got a pretty strong arm. I think his ability to extend plays is very good,” Harriman said. “Some of those plays that happened last Saturday were more from him being able to move in the pocket and extend the play. So I think that’s something that is a real benefit.”

Costa’s production came after the first quality playing time of the season — he played at the end of Bates’ 51-0 loss to Trinity the week before — got off to an awful start. On his third snap, Costa fecklessly threw a screen pass that was easily intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Tufts’ Tylor Scales to make the lead 27-3 in the second quarter.

“That was the thing that really impressed me as much as anything,” Harriman said. “It’s one thing to get a guy in there and, you know, have something that doesn’t go his way and then it kind of rattles him, but I really felt that he kept his poise.”

At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Costa isn’t as big as Sandy Pashkes or Matt Golden, the two quarterbacks who played before him, but he seems faster and brought a passing game to Bates’ triple-option offense that the veteran quarterbacks were unable to.

That passing game came out of necessity, as the Bobcats were desperately trying to get back into Saturday’s game and to avoid a 0-3 start. The hope is that a full game of Costa’s versatility will bring balance to the offense.

“Ideally, that’s what we want to be, anyway,” Harriman said. “When they start crowding the box, we want to be able to throw. And then, obviously, when they spread out, then you can go back to running the ball.”

“We want to be balanced,” Harriman continued. “I mean, we’re not going to be balanced, necessarily, from a numbers-of-plays, run-pass, but production standpoint, we definitely want to be balanced — you know, total yards, things like that.”

Seeking W vs. Ephs

The Bobcats’ offensive balance will be tested a bit this week against Bates with three starters missing the game because of injuries.

Litchfield’s Kyle Flaherty, who helped Oak Hill win a few state championships earlier this decade, will start at diveback in place of Peter Boyer, the team’s leading rusher.

Offensive linemen Dylan Rasch and Dan Marino also will miss Saturday’s game against Williams. ­Defensive back/linebacker Joe Frake is day-to-day.

The Ephs are 2-1 and coming off a 17-9 loss to Trinity that impressed Harriman.

“They did a great job against them,” Harriman said. “They’ve got some very good athletes out there, and it will be a battle, that’s for sure.”

Harriman added, “They’re a team that we need to go out and try to set the tempo early against.”

In the running

Bates’ nationally ranked women’s cross country team is running headfirst into the postseason after taking first at Saturday’s Saratoga Invitational.

The No. 15 Bobcats had four runners place in the top six out of 221 runners, and soundly defeated second-place RPI, which is ranked 16th in the nation and second in the Atlantic Region. By the way, the Bobcats are fourth in the New England Region.

Bates senior captain Katherine Cook placed second, finishing the 3-mile course in 17 minutes, 25.7 seconds. Coast Guard’s Kaitlyn Mooney won the race with a time of 17:07.5.

Bates sophomore Olivia LaMarche took third, junior Ayden Eickhoff was fifth and freshman Abby Hamilton, of Yarmouth, came in sixth. Rounding out the Bobcats’ scoring was junior Sarah Rothmann, who placed 20th.

Bates next competes at the Maine State Championships at Bowdoin on Saturday, Oct. 14.

The Bates men also will be competing there. They finished second out of 16 teams at the Saratoga Invitational. They are ranked 21st nationally and fifth in New England.

So close

The Bates field hockey team is a deceptive 1-4 in the NESCAC and 3-5 overall.

All five of the Bobcats’ losses have been by one goal, including last week’s 2-1 loss to Trinity. Two of those losses have come in overtime.

In eight games this season, Bates has outscored its opponents 15-11.

Killing it, digging it

Led by sophomore Taylor Stafford-Smith, the Bates volleyball team went 3-1 last week.

Stafford-Smith, an outside hitter, averaged 3.62 kills, 2.62 digs and one block per set. She also had a .285 hitting percentage.

That’s So Kim

Freshman So Kim tallied the first two goals of her college career last week for the Bates women’s soccer squad.

Kim’s first goal came in a 6-1 win over Williams, her second in a 2-1 loss to Trinity.

The setback to Trinity was the Bobcats’ first NESCAC loss of 2017. Their second came Wednesday when Bowdoin’s Brigit Bergin scored in the 88th minute to break a tie and give the Polar Bears a 3-2 win.

In that game, Kim scored the third goal of her career, tying the game in the 81st minute with a shot off her chest.

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