CLINTON, N.Y. — The Bates College football team ended its season on a roll, coming back from a three-touchdown deficit to beat Hamilton 26-21 in Saturday’s season finale.

The win is the Bobcats (2-7) second in a row, and their first since 2016 over a team other than in-state rivals Colby and Bowdoin.

Continentals quarterback Kenny Gray tossed a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes, 34 yards to Sam Robinson and 3 yards to Christian Donahoe, and Joe Park added a 17-yard touchdown run to give Hamilton a 21-0 lead with 9:21 remaining in the second quarter.

The Bobcats, who haven’t beaten the Continentals since 2014, appeared to be on their way to another setback. Instead, Bates clawed its way back into the game.

Late in the first half, after the Bobcats stopped a fake punt, junior quarterback Brendan Costa hooked up with Sean Bryant for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in the first half. Costa fumbled the football on the two-point conversion and Hamilton returned it for what would have been two points, but it was negated by a blocking penalty.

The Bobcats headed into the halftime break down 21-6.

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Bates’ defense stood tall in the second half, making stop after stop and holding Hamilton scoreless.

Junior linebacker Liam Greene had three sacks in the game and junior defensive back Anthony Costa broke up a pair of passes.

On the second-half kickoff, Bates sophomore Thomas Formus forced Hamilton returner Sam Robinson to cough up the ball, which Formus recovered to set up the Bobcats at the Continentals’ 20-yard line.

On the next play, Costa again connected with Bryant, this time for a 20-yard scoring strike. The two-point conversion again failed, and Bates trailed 21-12 with 13:58 left in the third quarter.

That score stood until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

After a punt, Bates’ offense took possession of the ball and its own 17 with 3:40 remaining in the game.

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Costa connected with Bryant for a 25-yard gain, and then Costa ran the ball to midfield. A personal foul moved it to Hamilton’s 35.

On the next play, Costa was forced out of the pocket and started to scramble but found junior receiver Parker Smith for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Simon Redfern’s extra point cut Hamiton’s lead to 21-19 with 2:31 left.

Hamilton went three-and-out, seemingly content to run out as much clock as it could while forcing Bates to use its remaining two timeouts.

The Continentals lined up to put, but after receiving the snap, Gray, who also is Hamilton’s punter, started to run. Peter Daly put the initial pressure on Gray and Greene took him down, forcing a turnover on downs and setting up the Bobcats’ offense as the Continentals’ 25 with less than 90 second left to play.

A few plays later, Costa again found Bryant, this time for a 25-yard touchdown pass that gave Bates is first lead, 26-21, with 1:08 remaining.

The Bobcats’ defense didn’t allow the Continentals to get any sort of a drive going in the final minute, locking down the second victory under second-year coach Malik Hall.

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The comeback is Bates’ largest in more than two decades.

Costa finished 16-for-30 passing for 191 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He was only sacked once. He also ran for a game-high 72 yards on 17 carries.

Bryant, a sophomore from Falmouth, caught five passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns. Smith made three receptions for 56 yards and a score.

Bates out-gained Hamilton 312 yards to 251.


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