The Bowdoin College football team will begin its quest to regain possession of the CBB Championship this weekend when they travel to Lewiston to play Bates. It will be the 116th meeting between the rivals, which marks the 10th-longest running series in Division III football. The teams enter the game tied for sixth place in the NESCAC with 2-4 records.
Bates will be providing live coverage of Saturday's game from Garcelon Field via live statistics and video. Links are available above.
One year after claiming its first CBB championship in a decade last autumn, the Bobcats dropped the opener of the 2013 series to Colby last weekend 21-3 in Waterville. In order to retain possession of the trophy, the Bobcats must defeat Bowdoin Saturday and hope for a Polar Bear win next week over the Mules to force a three-way deadlock between the teams. Prior to Bates claiming the crown in 2012, Bowdoin held the trophy for five consecutive seasons between 2006-11, winning it outright four times with one three-way tie.
POLAR BEAR PREVIEW
After evening their mark at 2-2 two weeks ago, Bowdoin suffered losses to the Connecticut schools in consecutive weeks. After a 40-21 loss to Trinity, Bowdoin was able to hang with first-place Wesleyan for three quarters before the Cardinals pulled away with 20 points in the fourth quarter of a 34-14 win last Saturday.
In what will be an important unit against the run-heavy Bobcats, Bowdoin's rush defense currently stands fifth in the NESCAC (146.0 yards/game) while the team has improved its turnover margin to +1 on the season. The Polar Bears rank 10th in the league in total offense, but stand seventh in scoring thanks in great part to the league's top red-zone efficiency (81%). However, the Polar Bears have scored touchdowns on just 44% of their trips into the opponents 20 this year.
Zach Donnarumma's 398 yards stand seventh in the league this season as the senior tailback is 15 yards shy (1,985 in career) of becoming the fifth Polar Bear to surpass 2,000 career rushing yards. First-year Tyler Grant has burst onto the scene with solid performances in the last few weeks, including a 119-yard effort against Wesleyan. Sophomore Andrew Murowchick is the only NESCAC kicker to be perfect on the season (6-6 in FG's and 9-9 in PAT's) while linebacker Joey Cleary continues to lead the conference with 67 total tackles this fall.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS
Bates sat at 2-1 following wins over Tufts and Williams, but have slipped to three-straight losses. The Bobcats dropped a 35-7 decision at Wesleyan, fell 28-17 at home to Middlebury, and lost to Colby 21-3 last week.
Offensively, Bates run-heavy attack ranks second in the league in rushing offense (218.8 yards/game) as the Bobcats have only attempted 95 passes in their six games (15.8 attempts/game). Ryan Curit (74.2 yards/game) and Shawn Doherty (65.7 yards/game) lead the balanced attack on the ground for the Bobcats. Defensively, senior Andrew Kukesh has moved from free safety to inside linebacker and made a game-high 10 tackles (nine solo), against Colby. Kukesh has eight or more tackles in every game this season.
Last year in Brunswick, Bates won its first game at Whittier - and its first CBB title - since 2002 in a 14-6 win. Bates gained 160 yards on the ground and took advantage of four Bowdoin turnovers in the win.
BOWDOIN vs. BATES
The Bowdoin-Bates rivalry, at 115 games entering play on Saturday, is the 10th-longest in Division III, dating back to 1889 (a 62-0 Bowdoin win). The Polar Bears hold a 66-42-7 edge in the all-time series but Bates has won three of the last five meetings.
Bowdoin Football Travels to Lewiston Saturday For CBB Opener at Bates