Bowdoin Beats Colby, Wins 19th C-B-B Championship Title

Bowdoin Beats Colby, Wins 19th C-B-B Championship Title

WATERVILLE, Maine - The Bowdoin College football team won their fourth CBB Championship in the last five years on Saturday, claiming a season-ending 26-21 win over rival Colby College at Alfond Field. The Polar Bears finish their year with a record of 3-5 and take their 19th Colby-Bates-Bowdoin title overall, the most of any of the three Pine Tree State rivals.

The Polar Bears, who also won the crown in 2006, '07 and '08, complete their most successful five-year stretch in the rivalry in nearly four decades, having won four of the last five titles while joining in a three-way tie in 2009. Bowdoin won four-straight titles from 1968-1971.

On Saturday, the Polar Bears used a pair of outstanding special teams plays and key defensive stops down the stretch to defeat the Mules (4-4). Bowdoin's Pat Noone returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for the Polar Bears' first big special teams play. Bowdoin later got a blocked punt by Brendan Garner and teammate Sean O'Malley recovered the ball in the end zone for another score. The Polar Bears had a 17-yard interception return for a touchdown from Ian Vieira and Bowdoin's entire defense held Colby on a 4th-and-goal at the Polar Bear 1-yard line with 9:17 to play in the game.

Noone put Bowdoin up quickly with his 89-yard kickoff return. The Polar Bears missed the extra point attempt and led 6-0 after one quarter. Noone had Bowdoin's only score off a regular drive with a 22-yard reception off a pass from first-year quarterback Grant White to make it 14-0 with 8:02 to play in the second quarter. The Polar Bears drove 85 yards in 10 plays, with the big play on the drive coming on a 30-yard pass play from White to Noone. Kevin Miao ran it in for the two-point conversion.

Colby took over and made it a 14-7 game at halftime with an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard scoring run from Conor Tidgwell. Colby quarterback Nick Kmetz hooked up with Spencer Merwin on a 32-yard pass play on the drive.

The Mules took the kickoff after the break and once again used 11 plays and drove 69 yards to tie the game at 14-14. Kmetz found Patrick Burns on an 8-yard scoring pass with 10:23 left in the third quarter. Kmetz rushed for 21 yards on four rushes and Tidgwell had two carries for 18 yards during the drive. Colby seemed to have all the momentum after tying the game, but the blocked punt put Bowdoin up for good.

Colby had a drive stopped at its own 24-yard line to bring up the punt. Garner came in from the right side untouched and blocked the kick and nailed punter Connor Sullivan at the same time. The ball deflected all the way back past the goal line, where O'Malley picked it up for the touchdown and a 20-14 lead with 6:11 to play after another missed PAT.

Colby's defense came up strong after a Kmetz interception gave Bowdoin the ball at the Mule 34-yard line. The Polar Bears drove to the Colby 3-yard line, but the Mules held and received the ball back on downs with 3:31 to play. After a rush for no gain, Vieira picked off his pass in the middle of the field. He ran to the right behind some blockers and then cut back to the middle and raced in the end zone for a 17-yard return. The Polar Bears went for two points and missed to take a 26-14 margin.

Colby made quick work to make it 26-21 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter. Tidgwell had 25 yards rushing on two carries and Kmetz completed three passes on the five-play, 59-yard drive.  Kmetz found Connor Walsh on a 7-yard scoring pass.

The fourth quarter had three long drives, but no team managed a point. The Mules drove from their own 20-yard line to Bowdoin's 1-yard line, with 57 yards coming on a pass play from Kmetz to Walsh. After an incompletion, Kmetz completed a 4-yard pass to Walsh and another 4-yard pass to Tidgwell to get the ball to the Bowdoin 1-yard line. The Mules called a timeout and then threw a pass that was batted away by Bowdoin's Beau Breton.

The Polar Bears took over with 9:17 to play and used the running of Miao to keep the clock moving. Miao had 52 of his 73 yards rushing on the drive before Bowdoin's momentum stalled and it was forced to punt with 58 seconds left. White hit a beautiful punt that bounced high in the air and was downed at the Colby 4-yard line with just 48 seconds to play.

The Mules drove to the Colby 38-yard line before giving the ball over on downs with five seconds left.

White completed 13 of his 20 passes for 213 yards and added 13 rushes for 41 yards. In addition to his kick return for a score, Noone caught eight passes for 112 yards and also saw action in Bowdoin's defensive backfield, breaking up two passes on Colby's final drive. Kmetz had 247 yards passing and rushed 11 times for 57 yards (5.2 average). Tidgwell had 17 rushes for 70 yards, while Andrew Graham had three grabs for 44 yards.

Joey Cleary led Bowdoin's defense with eight tackles and Dominic Ridgard had seven stops. Dan Evans added five tackles and one interception. Colby's Ryan Veillette and Derrick Beasley both had seven tackles.

Photos courtesy of Ellen Harasimowicz