Football vs. Tufts Game Notes

Saturday is the 101st meeting between long-time rivals Bowdoin College and Tufts University. The Polar Bears enter this weekend with a record of 0-2, with losses to Williams and Amherst in the opening two weeks. Tufts enters the game with a record of 2-0 thanks to wins over Bates and Hamilton.

The Bowdoin Cable Network will be video webcasting all home football games this season. Unfortunately, due to connectivity issues currently at Whittier Field, this weekend's game will be available online on a delayed basis. It will be available at the Bowdoin Podcast Page immediately following the conclusion of the game on Saturday afternoon, at approximately 4:00 p.m. BCN hopes to do live broadcasts of the remaining home games on the schedule.

For a team that features 41 players from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it seems only appropriate that Bowdoin starts their 2006 campaign with three consecutive games against their neighbors from the Bay State. Playing against what many consider to be the class of the NESCAC in Williams and Amherst, Bowdoin was able to muster only one touchdown in two games in falling to 0-2. Tufts, however, won a pair of games against teams that were a combined 3-13 in 2005, seemingly setting the stage for a competitive contest this afternoon.

With two weeks under their belt, Bowdoin ranks ninth in the league in total offense and tenth in total defense, but those numbers are somewhat deceiving. The Polar Bears are still playing mistake-free football, a gameplan they hope pays off in the coming weeks. Bowdoin ranks fourth in the conference with a plus-one turnover margin, having committed just one turnover in the first two games. In addition, the Polar Bears have been penalized ten times in the first two games this season. Against Amherst, Bowdoin was within one score until the last minute of the ballgame.

Individually, Jeff Smith stands sixth in the conference in rushing yards per game (57.0). Dave Donahue is all over the conference leaderboard, ranking fourth in punting (39.2 yards/kick) and sixth in tackles (11.0/game). John Regan (12.0/game) and Damon Hall-Jones (10.0/game) also stand among the NESCAC leaders in tackling.

There is little secret as to why Tufts stands unbeaten after their first two games of 2006: turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The Jumbos are swiping the ball at an alarming clip, averaging a plus-3.5 margin per game. Bates and Hamilton combined to commit nine turnovers in the first two weeks against Tufts, while the Jumbos' offense has reciprocated with just two fumbles of their own. Tufts will most likely look to establish their running game, which ranks fourth in the NESCAC at 124.5 yards/contest.

Brendan Georges leads the rushing attack for Tufts with 88.0 yards/game to stand second in the league. Defensively, the Jumbos have three players- Alex Perry, Brett Holm and Nathan Scott who are tied for the conference lead with two interceptions this season.

In sloppy conditions last season in Medford, Bowdoin claimed their second-straight win over Tufts in a 10-8 squeaker. The bend-but-don't-break Polar Bear defense allowed 356 total yards to the Jumbos, but also produced four turnovers and held the hosts to one touchdown.

Bowdoin's lone touchdown came courtesy of a 43-yard strike from Ricky Leclerc '06 to Jeff Nolin '06. Jeff Smith posted 60 yards rushing for the Polar Bears, who got nine tackles from Mike Vitousek in the victory.

Tufts' Scott Lombardi was sensational with 177 yards on 34 carries in the game, including the Jumbos' solo score with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter. Trailing 10-8, Tufts did have a chance to tie the game on a two-point conversion attempt, but failed as Bowdoin held the Jumbos scoreless in the fourth quarter to win.

Bowdoin has won two straight games over Tufts by a combined four points (10-8 in 2005 and 14-12 in 2004) as the teams have played 100 times entering Saturday. Tufts holding a 55-43-2 edge in the all-time series. The Polar Bears have not won three straight games over the Jumbos since 1991-94, when they claimed four consecutive victories.

The teams first played in 1889, with Tufts taking an 8-4 victory. The most unique contest, however, was the 1992 game that was played in Galway, Ireland - the first Division III game played in Europe. Bowdoin won that contest 7-6 and the Polar Bears hold a slight 8-7 edge in the last 15 meetings.