LEWISTON — Nearly every time Tufts University sophomore quarterback Michael Berluti threw the football, the ball found its way into the arms of an eager and capable receivers.

Berluti completed 16 of his 17 passes for 215 yards and tossed two touchdowns in the first half as the Jumbos strong-armed Bates College with a 35-7 victory in a home opener before a crowd of 750 on Saturday.

By halftime, the Jumbos (1-1) established a comfortable 28-0 lead, while Bates missed several opportunities to reach the end zone earlier in the game at Garcelon Field.

Berluti paid homage to his teammates for the victory.

“I know the line did an amazing job protecting me,” he said. “It gave me all kinds of time back there (in the pocket). Receivers got open; they ran their routes, so it was really just easy, kind of pitching and catching to my guys.

“Offensively, we did a great job. Everyone did their job for that to happen. It was a great team job on offense. Receivers were unbelievable. We work on those tough catches in practice. They work their tails off … it is no surprise to me and no surprise to the team that they are making those tough catches.”

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Overall, Berluti, who was pulled in the second half and replaced with substitute quarterbacks, completed 18 of 21 passes for 237 yards with one interception.

Tufts didn’t squander their first possession of the game, a 10-play, 71-yard drive to cross the end zone that resulted in Berluti’s 5-yard pass to Phil Lutz for a TD. Vaughn Seelicke, who made all five of his PATs, kicked the extra point put the Jumbos on top 7-0.

Tufts quickly built a 28-0 cushion in the second quarter, with Berluti spearheading the Jumbos’ drives. Jaden Richardson grabbed 53-yard TD pass from Berluti. Berluti spilled into the end zone on a 5-yard QB keeper, and later senior running back Tyler Johnson did the same with another 5-yard rushing TD.

Tufts coach Jay Sivetti said that traveling to Lewiston to take on the Bobcats gave him cause for concern, especially since Bates beat the Jumbos at their home, 31-10, last season.

“Just a really great team win,” Sivetti said. “(Bates coach) Matt Coyne is doing an amazing job with this program. He has got a lot of great kids, great staff. They continue, day in and day out, to get better. This wasn’t a game that we slept much during the week and (were) looking forward to after last year.

“On our end, our kids continue to work hard, and we still have a lot things to get better at. Any time you win on the road, that’s a big deal. I am really happy with the job they did.”

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The Jumbos added another touchdown in the third quarter, with Jackson Butler finding open ground and scoring on a 41-yard run to put Tufts up, 35-0.

The Bobcats (0-2) had a solid opportunity to score late in the fourth quarter, but fumbled it away on the Tufts 1-yard line with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter.

They got the ball back, and got back near the goal line thanks to a 52-yard run by Jack Bryant. The Bobcats ended the Jumbos’ shutout bid when quarterback Colton Bosselait scored on a 1-yard run with 2:44 remaining in the game. Archie Green Jr. kicked the extra point.

Bosselait completed 7 of 14 passes for 76 yards and an interception. Both of Liam Foley’s pass attempts fell incomplete. Bryant, a former QB now playing running back for Bates, finished with a team-high 63 yards on eight carries, while Reza Badiee ran 10 times for 50 yards.

Bobcats defensive back Johnny Walker intercepted a pass, and Tony Hooks again led the defense with 11 tackles.

“We just didn’t make the plays we needed to,” Coyne, in his first season as Bates’ coach, said. “We had some opportunities and our margins are a lot tighter than other teams, so we’ve got to make those plays and capitalize. But we just hit a low again. We hit a low again in that second quarter where we let up three big drives in a row and it sort of bit us in the butt a little bit.

“I think that is part of growing pains here, and that is part of the process. Obviously, we have to get better starting top down from myself, coaches and players. But it is a process that is going take a little time. Now we get to focus on Colby next week. We know how challenging this league is so we just have to keep working.”

Bates plays Colby (1-1) in Waterville next Saturday at 7 p.m. The Mules fell to Trinity 19-7 on Saturday.

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