Football sends seniors off with shutout win over Bates
The Hamilton College football team ended its season on a winning note, blanking visiting Bates 14-0 in a NESCAC game at snowy Steuben Field on Saturday afternoon. The shutout was the first in 66 games for the Continentals, who finished the season winning two of their last three games.
The Continentals snapped Bates’ two-game winning streak by holding the visitors to 104 yards of total offense. The Bobcats (2-6, 2-6 NESCAC) entered the game averaging 316 yards per game, including nearly 190 yards on the ground. Hamilton (2-6, 2-6) held Bates to 48 rushing yards on 44 carries.
Hamilton ran for a season-best 120 yards, including a back-breaking 17-play, 83-yard drive that ate up the final 11 minutes of the game. All 17 plays were rushes with fullback Jason Nastovski ’18, who scored Hamilton’s first touchdown, picking up 55 of those yards on 10 carries.
The Continental defense contributed the game’s second score, with end Nick Sobczyk ‘17 recovering a Bobcat fumble in the end zone. The shutout was the first for the team since whitewashing Colby 20-0 on Oct. 20, 2007.
Nastovski finished with a career-best 55 rushing yards and Marcus Gutierrez ‘18, who made his first collegiate start, gained a personal-high 85 to lead all players.
Nastovski’s touchdown capped an eight-play, 43-yard drive that started on the final play of the first quarter after the Continental defense forced the game’s first turnover. End Brent Lobien ‘17 hit Bates quarterback Patrick Dugan and linebacker Cade Larabee ’16 recovered Dugan’s fumble inside midfield to set up the hosts. Cole Freeman ’18 completed three passes on the drive, including a third-down throw to Charles Ensley ’17 that gave Hamilton a first down at the Bates 18. One play after Gutierrez gained 15 yards, Nastovski bulled his way in from three yards out and Zach Altneu ’18 converted the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Nastovski scored a touchdown in each of Hamilton’s last five games (he also carried in the game winner in the Continentals’ come-from behind win at Williams two weeks ago). His streak is the longest by a Continental runner in 17 seasons.
Hamilton’s last drive of the opening half gained just 15 yards on six plays, but ended with a special teams play that set up the second Continental touchdown. Patrick Donahoe ’16, who averaged a season-best 40.0 yards per punt on eight kicks, dropped a punt inside the 15 that rolled toward the Bobcat end zone before being downed at the one-yard line by Hamilton’s Colby Jones ’19. After Dugan barely got out of the end zone for a one-yard gain on first down, he lost the handle on a second-down option attempt and Sobczyk recovered the fumble in the end zone. His touchdown was the first for Hamilton’s defense since Dan Peters ‘13 ran back a fumble 44 yards for a score at Colby on Oct. 20, 2012.
Altneu’s successful PAT made him nine of 10 this year and 22 of 23 in his career.
The Continentals turned in their strongest defensive effort of the year in the second half, allowing just 11 yards of offense while limiting Bates to 18 plays on six possessions. The Bobcats picked up just one first down in the game’s final 30 minutes.
Bates’ 104 yards of total offense was the worst performance by a Hamilton opponent since Nov. 14, 2009, when the Continentals limited the visiting Bobcats to 58 yards in winning the season finale 24-14.
Strong safety Alex Mitko ’16 led Hamilton with eight tackles, including seven solo stops. His three tackles for loss included one of the team’s season-best four sacks. Lobien added eight tackles, including two for loss, and a career-best two sacks.
Tyler Hudson ’19 made five tackles from his end spot; he and Lobien played in Hamilton’s offensive backfield on the Continentals’ final drive, blocking for Nastovski and Gutierrez.
Hudson finished the season with 12.5 tackles for loss, good for second in the conference. His 47 total stops and 37 solo tackles were second among the NESCAC’s down linemen.
The game-clinching drive started after Hamilton’s defense forced the Bobcats into their fifth three-and-out of the day. Taking over at their own five, quarterback Chase Rosenberg ’17 – who entered the game in the third quarter after Freeman was knocked out – moved Hamilton up the field while eating up time. Hamilton converted four third downs (Nastovski gained an average of six yards per carry on three of them; Gutierrez picked up another) and wrapped up the win when Rosenberg ran a bootleg around right end for nine yards on a fourth-and four play from the Bobcat 20.
Dugan completed seven of 12 passes with wideout Mark Riley catching four for 56 yards. Linebacker Mark Upton, who intercepted a Rosenberg pass in the fourth, led all players with 13 tackles. Trevor Lyons and Brandon Williams both made eight stops from the Bobcat secondary.
The Continentals closed the season with their most successful streak since the 1996 team won four of five to wrap up the year.