The Bates College football team has played well in first halves this season. Now the Bobcats need to figure out the second half.

At halftime of its three games this season, Bates has been in a 0-0 tie with Amherst, trailed Trinity 28-14 (after cutting the deficit to 14-9 with a few minutes left in the first half) and led Tufts 14-10.

But the Bobcats (0-3) have then been outscored 87-14 in second halves this season (an average margin of 24.3 points).

“Teams make adjustments (in the second half),” first-year coach Malik Hall said. “When we make our adjustments, it’s just much more difficult when you’re dealing with inexperienced guys and inexperience with each other, players (and) coaches.”

Hall said the coaches and players (few of whom had extensive starting experience prior to this season) are still figuring out the NESCAC. And since they had only a few weeks of preseason, the Bobcats are being forced to use games as on-the-job training.

“This game is chess, not checkers,” Hall said, “and I think the more and more our young guys kind of understand that part of the game, in the second half, I think we’ll close the gap sooner than later.


“But the only way they can learn that is by going through it, unfortunately.”


The NESCAC is an odd conference. It doesn’t allow spring practices, and teams play the same schedule every season. Bates always starts with Amherst, then Trinity, then Tufts. (Technically, before the conference switched from an eight-game season to nine games in 2017, the Bobcats started with Amherst or Trinity, then Tufts).

That’s a tough slate, and it makes it difficult to turn a program around when most seasons begin 0-3.

That’s how the Bobcats sit once again, three games into this season, with another tough one against Williams this week. It’s about time to start looking forward to the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin rivalry games.

Not on Hall’s watch.


“I’ve gone 0-3 and ended up winning leagues,” Hall said. “But the challenge is the frustration setting in and combating the history of, if we start 0-3, we finish just looking towards to the CBB. And I’ve been very clear that that is not our season. That is a piece of our season, but we’re looking to competing for our entire season, not for a piece of it.

Bates hosts Colby on Oct. 27, and travel to face Bowdoin on Nov. 3.


There have been glimmers of hope in each game for the Bobcats this season.

Against Tufts, it was wide receiver Kody Greenhalgh. The junior from Warwick, Rhode Island, caught the first pass of his career, and then caught five more, for 77 yards. One of his catches was a nifty touchdown grab.

“Kody, he’s a raw athlete, and he can just do some things that are different,” Hall said.


Freshman Jackson Hayes hauled in three passes for 47 yards, and quarterback Brendan Costa threw for 160 yards (the second-most in his career). Perhaps all these are signs that the Bates passing game is progressing.

“We want to get the ball to all our receivers,” Hall said. “But that chemistry and that timing, to be in sync, I think that’s the part we’re missing offensively.”


Next for the Bobcats is maybe the toughest of the season. Williams is 3-0 and beat Trinity 21-16 last week. Trinity defeated Bates 59-16 in Week 2.

“Talk about having to get better, like, fast,” Hall said. “The beauty of our league is every week you get an opportunity to beat someone that’s good. There are no bad teams in our league.”

Hall and the Bobcats have already studied up on the Ephs, but they probably could have gone the entire week without looking at film and known that Williams’ plan will revolve around attacking Bates as everyone else has: through the air.

“Everyone’s going to try to copy and paste something from another team that worked against us,” Hall said. “Until you answer the demons of old, they’ll continue to haunt you, along with everything the other team already does.”

The good thing, Hall said, is that Tufts’ throwing wasn’t what beat Bates last week. It was quarterback Ryan McDonald’s (207 yards passing, 161 rushing) running. The Bobcats forced the Jumbos into a bunch of third-and-long situations, but McDonald usually found a way, either with his arm or his legs, to keep drives alive.

“He ate us up on some critical third-and-longs,” Hall said.

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