Bates’ Liam Spillane tries to run away from Colby’s Patrick Yale and Don Vivian during Saturday’s game at Garcelon Field in Lewiston. Colby defeated Bates 21-6. (Phyllis Graber Jensen photo)

LEWISTON — Colby coach Jack Cosgrove jumped up and down as he congratulated his players after the handshake line following their 21-6 football win over Bates College on Saturday.

The win keeps the Mules in the running for the outright CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) series title.

“I can feel how important it is to them now,” said Cosgrove, who is in his first year at Colby after 22 years as University of Maine head coach. “I didn’t know, and it’s a really cool thing. I’ve been intrigued by it, but I haven’t been privileged to be in it.

“I’m excited for our men. This is a really important win for them.”

Garcelon Field was covered with snow the entire game, but it hardly hindered Colby’s offense, which opened the game with a six-play, 70-yard drive that concluded with a 44-yard touchdown run by senior Jake Schwern.

The Mules’ game plan was to rely on Schwern, usually on runs up the middle, and the senior finished with 226 yards on 40 carries.

“Huge credit to the offensive line,” Schwern said. “It was probably the best game they’ve had all year. I couldn’t have done it without them. My offensive line killed it, receivers blocked their butts off.”

Schwern also scored all three of Colby’s touchdowns.

“He’s a very trustworthy kind of kid, ball security and all those things,” Cosgrove said. “He’s a workhorse, he loves to work.”

Bates responded later in the first quarter. Sophomore Liam Spillane opened the Bobcats’ second possession with a 24-yard run into Colby territory. He took a handoff on the next play and was able to escape a cluster of Mules that appeared to have him contained and picked up another 24 yards.

On the next play, sophomore quarterback Brendan Costa found room on the left sideline and ran in for a 19-yard touchdown. The Bobcats, though, struggled with the snap on the PAT, and holder Matt Golden’s attempt to improvise a pass play was not successful, leaving Colby’s lead at 7-6.

Colby was a bit more methodical on its next drive, picking up pieces of yardage with each play rather than large chunks. Schwern scored with 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 1-yard run.

The Mules took a 21-6 lead on another 1-yard run by Schwern.

On that drive, the Bates defense’s inability to close drives on third-and-long again became an issue. On their final scoring drive, the Mules were able to convert on third-and-11, third-and-12 and third-and-9.

“If you don’t get off the field on third down, you can’t win time of possession,” Bates coach Malik Hall said, “and, most likely, you won’t win the game. And we didn’t win the game today.”

The Mules converted several other third downs throughout the game. The play that seemed most effective were screens by freshman quarterback Matt Hersch to running backs who got behind Bates’ pass rush.

“We got them a couple times on that,” Cosgrove said. “(Offensive coordinator) Coach (Dave) Dunn made a couple great calls.”

The Bobcats started to move the ball much better, but struggled to finish drives in the red zone.

Late in the first half, Costa completed a pass to Christian Olivieri on fourth down that earned a first down and moved Bates to the Colby 14-yard line.

But Costa was sacked, losing 10 yards. He threw an incompletion on the next play but took a hit that knocked him out of the game.

“That goes back to, you know, in a critical moment in a game, you can’t miss blocks and be able to win,” Hall said.

Jack Bryant, a freshman from Falmouth, replaced Costa.

After one play, Hall elected to send in kicker Justin Foley for a 32-yard field goal attempt, but it was blocked by Colby’s Pat Sweetnam.

The Bobcats had a couple more drives into the red zone come up empty. In the third quarter, they drove down to the Colby 14, but Bryant was sacked on fourth down.

In the fourth quarter, Bryant completed a screen pass to Christian Sanfilippo that was going for a big gain until Sanfilippo fumbled inside the Mules’ 20 and Colby’s Nick Wilcox recovered.

“The fumble on the screen, (that) may have put it in a one-possession game,” Hall said.

Spillane finished with 114 yards on 15 carries.

Colby finished with 306 yards total offense, 236 of which came on the ground. Bates gained 236 yards, including 176 yards rushing.

Hall said the Mules played with more passion and focus than the Bobcats.

“Ultimately, we just got physically handled today, unfortunately,” Hall said.

The Bobcats have owned the CBB recently, winning four straight outright titles and a share of the past seven.

The win was Colby’s first over Bates since 2013, meaning it was the first for the Mules’ seniors.

“In my three years here, we lost (to Bates) by one, two and three points,” Schwern said, “so it feels good to finally get the victory.”

Bates’ Jon Lindgren tackles Colby’s Jake Schwern during Saturday’s game at Garcelon Field in Lewiston. Colby defeated Bates 21-6. (Phyllis Graber Jensen photo)Bates’ Conner Suraci and Colby quarterback Matt Hersch after a tackle during Saturday’s game at Garcelon Field in Lewiston. Colby defeated Bates 21-6. (Phyllis Graber Jensen photo)


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.