Bates College took the lead for good on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter and the Bobcats held on for a 23-22 New England Small College Athletic Conference win against visiting Hamilton College at Garcelon Field on Nov. 8.
Both teams finished the year with a record of 2-6. Hamilton dropped its last four games of 2008. The Continentals were hampered by five turnovers.
Hamilton opened the scoring just 2:15 into the first quarter on a quick three-play drive that ended in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Eck '12 to Scott Kleinklaus '11. Kleinklaus finished with six receptions for 103 yards. It was the second time in his career he went over the 100-yard mark. Eck was 11-for-25 passing for 160 yards and two touchdowns. George Taylor '11 added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
John Lawrence '10 ended the Bobcats' ensuing drive with an interception -- his NESCAC-leading seventh of the season. Lawrence has picked off a pass in seven straight games.
The Bobcats controlled the ball for over nine minutes in the second quarter. Bates pulled within one point on a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:35 remaining in the second, and booted a 38-yard field goal with no time left in the first half to take a 9-7 lead into the locker room.
Hamilton opened the third quarter with a 10-play, 63-yard drive that ended in a missed field goal attempt from 30 yards. The drive featured Dylan Isenberg '12 rushing for 25 of his career-high 88 yards.
The Continentals' defense forced a three-and-out and Will Finan '10 returned the punt 30 yards to the Bates 21. That set up another quick touchdown strike -- again for 20 yards -- from Eck to Max Foster '10 for a 14-9 lead with 6:30 left in the third. The lead did not last long, as Bates answered with a 19-yard touchdown pass on its next possession to take a 15-14 lead.
Hamilton scored its last touchdown on a 4-yard rush by Isenberg with 4:39 left in the game. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Continental defense took the field with a 20-15 lead.
The defense delivered and forced Bates to punt after three plays. However, Bates intercepted a pass and returned it 18 yards to the Hamilton 30. Six plays later, the Bobcats threw a touchdown pass on third-and-10 from the 20, and added the two-point conversion for a 23-20 lead.
After another interception on the Continentals' next play, Bates intentionally took a safety with three seconds left in an effort to run out the clock. The safety made the score 23-22.
Hamilton out-gained the Bobcats, 289-206, but was 4-of-13 on third down conversions. Bates was 8-of-20 on third down. The teams combined for 165 yards in penalties.
A stingy Hamilton ground defense held the Bobcats to minus-30 yards rushing. Trevor Pedrick '09 led the way with eight tackles, including seven solo stops, and 1.5 sacks. Finan, James Gibson '09, Taylor Soobitsky '09 and Brian O'Malley '10 registered six tackles each. Soobitsky was credited with the 24th sack of his career in his final game.
The loss was one of five for the Continentals this season that were decided in the final two minutes of play. The average margin of defeat in those games was 3.8 points.