Bates College defender Jon Lindgren (19) hauls down Tufts University receiver Joe Nault during their game on Garcelon Field at Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday, Sept. 30. Also pursuing the play are Bates defenders Max Breschi (47), Jack Maritz (89) and Collin Richardson (60).

The Bates College football team has started the season with a brutal schedule.

First was the NESCAC’s dominant team of the decade so far, Amherst, followed by defending champion Trinity. Then came Tufts and Williams, who are both 3-1 so far.

There have been 20 NESCAC football games this season. That means there have been 20 wins and 20 losses. Bates’ first four opponents have accounted for only three of those losses, and have a combined 17-3 record. (Add in this week’s opponent, Wesleyan, and it’s 20-4.)

The Bobcats (0-4) have always played this scheduled (tweaked a bit this year by the addition of one game, so they faced Trinity and Amherst this year instead of only one of those teams). So they’re accustomed to slow starts.

Bates has been outscored by an average of 44-12 its first four games.

Most of the damage, especially in the last three losses, has come in one quarter of each game.

The bright side of that for the Bobcats is that they might be three-fourths of the way to being a much more competitive team.

“That’s what kind of give me hope, as far as this team,” head coach Mark Harriman said, “there’s times that we look pretty good, and we’re doing a nice job, and it’s still … about that consistency that we don’t have. Certainly we’ve got to play very, very well to win, but I think we can definitely play a lot closer than we have.”

This is especially true of the past two games, during which Bates was derailed by being outscored 23-7 in a quarter.

“We’re hurting ourselves, whether it’s mental errors or physical errors, (that) has kind of been the theme of most of these games,” Harriman said. “And all of a sudden it goes from being a pretty close ball game to getting away from us.”

Also providing hope for Harriman is that both the offense and defense are showing improvement. The offense is moving the ball before drives are sidetracked by mistakes, and the defense is forcing more three-and-outs as the season progresses.

On the downside, Harriman said, the offense putting the defense in precarious field positions, and the defense is allowing too many explosive plays.

Freshman still the man

First-year player Brendan Costa will again start at quarterback for the Bobcats this week against Wesleyan.

Costa made his first start against Williams last week and threw four interceptions in a 47-14 loss. But he wasn’t deterred.

“The thing that impressed me is a lot of guys that are put into that role and had that type of (struggle), would have just really kind of put their tail between their legs, and he hasn’t done that,” Harriman said. “He’s really done a great job this week in practice and competed hard. He’ll be fine.”

Matt Golden will be Costa’s backup because Sandy Plashkes, the Bobcats’ original starting quarterback, is again out with an injury.

Golden led Bates in rushing against Williams (seven carries, 80 yards), but his runs came as a diveback due to Kyle Flaherty being knocked out of the game after only two carries.

Fortunately for the Bobcats, their top diveback Peter Boyer will return this week.

They have their number

Bates’ field hockey team continues to be a thorn in Babson’s nationally ranked side.

Tuesday evening, the Bobcats (5-5) defeated the No. 2 Beavers 2-1 in overtime when sophomore Grace Fitzgerald scored in the 75th minute.

It might seem like a shocker, but Bates has beaten Babson in five straight seasons, the last three coming while the Beavers held a top-10 spot in the national rankings. In 2015, Bates beat No. 9 Babson 1-0, and in 2016, the Bobcats won 3-2 in overtime against the eighth-ranked Beavers.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Babson is 50-8 — three of those losses were to Bates.

Win at Waterville

The Bates men’s golf team won the Colby College Classic at Waterville Country Club on Sunday.

The Bobcats three pairs of golfers finished with a score of 217. Sophomore Julien Lewin and Andrew Garcia-Bou led Bates with a score of 71, the second-best score of the event.

Bates’ other duos, Bennett Saltzman and Liam McLoughlin, and Spencer Pierce and Preston Haugh, both carded 73s.

In the tournament, the first six holes are a scramble format, the next six are best ball and the final six are alternate shot.

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