BRUNSWICK — Bowdoin hadn’t won a football game in its last 24 tries. All it took was one attempt under the lights at home.

The Polar Bears are a perfect 1-0 when they play under the lights at Whittier Field. Saturday’s game against Bates marked the first night game at Bowdoin since renovations to the stadium in 2017. The Polar Bears also honored the 16 seniors playing their final home game on the historic night, which ended with a 31-14 win over the Bobcats.

“I think we’d like to do more, it definitely brings a different atmosphere,” Bowdoin coach JB Wells said. “Students have all day to really get ready for the game, and I think you saw a lot of people here that maybe haven’t come out to a game yet.”

Turnovers plagued the Polar Bears in the opening quarter. The Bobcats didn’t allow the Bowdoin offense out of their own half of the field, using two interceptions to halt Polar Bear drives. Devin Clyburn picked off Bowdoin quarterback Austin McCrum on the game’s opening possession, stepping in front of a pass near midfield and returning it to the Bowdoin 27-yard line.

Bates, though, was unable to capitalize on the field position. The Bobcats’ defensive backs took back momentum after allowing a big play on Bowdoin’s next drive. McCrum hit tight end Bo Millet right at the first-down marker on third-and-12, but then Anthony Costa picked off a McCrum pass at the Bates 43.

“I think Austin had some of his guys back around him,” Wells said. “That gave him more confidence. He had the one interception that was tough, the second was more like a punt. But, he made some great throws down the stretch.”


Despite the turnovers, Bates was unable to get any momentum on the offensive side of the ball until the second quarter. Bowdoin bottled up the Bobcats’ ground game. Linebacker Drew Ortiz led the way for Bowdoin with seven tackles in the first half.

Bates struck first with a drive that started at their own 26 at the beginning of the second quarter.

Freshman quarterback Jack Bryant, filling in for injured starter Brendan Costa, called his own number on a 7-yard run up the middle to move the ball into Bowdoin territory. Running back Liam Spillane followed that up with a 28-yard run. After a first down was wiped off the board by an illegal formation penalty, Bryant connected with Jackson Hayes on third-and-12, and Kyle Flaherty finished the drive with 4-yard touchdown run.

Bowdoin’s offense found a put together its best drive late in the opening half. The Polar Bears leaned heavily on Nate Richam, who returned to the lineup after missing four games. He opened the drive by breaking a 14-yard run. Later, he broke a tackle on a fourth down and two to extend the drive. He capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run

Richam finished the half with 62 yards on 15 carries.

“I got turf toe in the Amherst game, played through it and made it worse,” Richam said. “Coming back out here, I was honestly unsure how I’d be.”


The Polar Bears’ defense quickly seized momentum in the second half. Joe Gowestski picked off a Bryant pass in Bates territory and returned the interception to the 33. An unsportsmanlike penalty put Bowdoin’s offense 18 yards away from the end zone, but the Polar Bears were forced to settle for a Michael Chen 31-yard field goal.

“Defense did everything they could with turnovers so early in the drive. We were getting the ball on the opposite side of the 50,” Richam said.

Bowdoin started its next drive on its own 31-yard line, but had a better result. Richam broke an 18-yard run into Bates territory at the 49. The running back later broke a run outside for a 7-yard score and 17-7 lead for Bowdoin.

Bates took over at their own 21 when Bowdoin’s defense struck again. Franny Rose sacked Bryant from his blind side, causing a fumble that Rose recovered just 20 yards from the end zone. McCrum found Millet alone in the back of the end zone on the next play for the touchdown and 24-7 lead.

“Bo Millett had a monster game at tight end,” Wells said. “I really think that he’s going to develop into a top tight end in the league at some point here.”

Bates responded with 69-yard drive that only took 4:40 off the clock. The Polar Bears were flagged for a roughing the passer call that put the ball inside the red zone. Kyle Flaherty followed that up with a pair of direct snap runs, eventually finding the end zone for a 1-yard score.


Bowdoin seemingly put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter, benefiting from two Bates unsportsmanlike penalties for a total of 30 yards. McCrum called his own number on a keeper from 11 yards out to give Bowdoin a 31-14 lead. The Polar Bear defense shut the door on the Bobcats, keeping them out of the end zone in the final quarter.

With the win Bowdoin improves to 1-7, but now has a chance to take their first CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) title since 2010. The Polar Bears travel to Colby in the season finale next week in a game that will decide the CBB title.

“I think that does mean a lot to this place,” Wells said. “If you talk to the old alums, they always talk about winning the state. To have a chance to bring the trophy back here from Waterville is absolutely tremendous.”

Bates falls to 0-8 on the season. It finishes at home against Hamilton next week. The loss officially ends the Bobcats’ streak of winning at least a share of seven straight CBB titles.

The win was the Polar Bears first victory since the 2015 season finale against Colby.

“They’re a very deserving bunch,” Wells said. They’ve weathered the storms with me. I’ve weathered the storms with them. To give it to the alumni and the college and the kids, that’s what its all about.”

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