LEWISTON — Amherst broke a scoreless halftime tie by scoring on its first two drives of the second half and avoided a stunning upset with a 19-7 NESCAC football win over Bates College at Garcelon Field on Saturday.

New Bobcats coach Malik Hall said his team’s enthusiasm at halftime, when the score was 0-0, was evident.

“I think there was some excitement,” Hall said. “I think they realized that they could play with these guys. But you’re talking years of this game being a blowout.”

In the last five meetings between the teams, Amherst has outscored Bates 30.4 to 8.8.

Amherst opened the third quarter with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard touchdown run by Jack Hickey.

The Bobcats had the drive stopped, but were penalized for running into the punter, which gave the Mammoths another chance.


“Special teams mishaps opened the game up for them a little bit in the third quarter,” Hall said, “which put our defense back on the field, and we were running low on fuel.”

After forcing a Bates three-and-out, the Mammoths advanced 48 yards on seven plays to reach the Bobcats’ 1-yard line.

On the eighth play, Ollie Eberth tried a QB sneak for the final yard, but he was stuffed by Bates’ front seven. Amherst called the play again, and this time Eberth was able to reach the end zone to make the lead 13-0 with 7:23 left in the quarter after Andrew Ferrero’s kick was no good.

“The first half (we were) just a little too over-excited,” Eberth said. “We knew what we had to do, but we just made a few too many mental errors. At halftime, we cleaned up, calmed down and fixed things up.”

The Mammoths’ biggest problem was holding onto the ball. They fumbled six times, three of which were recovered by the Bobcats.

The first two recoveries didn’t lead to any points. The third, by Walter Washington after a bad snap, gave Bates the ball at Amherst’s 32-yard line in the fourth quarter.


Three plays later, quarterback Brendan Costa ran 31 yards for the Bobcats’ first touchdown of the season. Karim Darwiche’s kick was good, and the Mammoth’s lead was down to 13-7.

Amherst, though, answered right back. Eberth and Hickey, who Bates had contained most of the afternoon, combined to run six times for 65 yards, capped by Eberth’s 8-yard touchdown run that made it 19-7 with 2:53 remaining.

“Ultimately, I’m proud of the effort. I think we ran out of gas late in the game,” Hall said.

Hickey finished with 137 yards on 22 carries, but many of those yards came late in the game.

Eberth ran for 58 yards and threw for 112.

The Bates defense was without captains and starters Bobby Dee (linebacker) and Joe Frake (safety). It also lost Frake’s backup, Connor Hunt, in the second half.


Bates gained only 150 yards of offense. Costa, like last year, was the Bobcats’ biggest weapon, mostly as a runner (16 carries, 44 yards).

Bates’ new, pass-heavy offense, never quite found a rhythm, but Costa (12-for-21, 90 yards, one interception) did get some good use out of his larger receivers: 6-foot-4 tight end Isaiah Saunders caught four passes; 6-foot-2 receiver Parker Smith caught three; and 6-1, 250-pound freshman tight end Erik Stephens had Bates’ longest catch of the day, a 20-yarder.

“We got to get the ball rolling downfield a little bit better,” Hall said.

Bates’ Angus Lamond tries to chase down Amherst punt returner Nate Tyrell during Saturday’s game at Garcelon Field.

Bates’ Kyle Flaherty, of Litchfield, looks up for the ball while Amherst’s Avery Saffold runs alongside during Saturday’s game at Garcelon Field.

Bates quarterback Brendan Costa throws a pass during Saturday’s game against Amherst at Garcelon Field.

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