Polar Bears Ready For CBB Premiere Saturday at Bates

Polar Bears Ready For CBB Premiere Saturday at Bates

The Bowdoin and Bates football teams will battle for the 114th time as the squads resume the 10th-oldest rivalry in Division III football Saturday at Garcelon Field in Lewiston. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m.

The Polar Bears, who got back on track with a win last weekend against Wesleyan, currently sit in a tie for third place in the conference standings at 3-3 while the Bobcats, losers of three straight, lay in a four-way tie for sixth place at 2-4.

Bates will have a live video webcast as well as live statistics coverage of Saturday's contest.

In the 2011 Colby-Bates-Bowdoin opener last weekend in Waterville, Colby beat Bates 37-13. The best the Bobcats can hope for is a three-way tie in the series with a victory over Bowdoin and a subsequent Polar Bear win the following Saturday over Colby.

This will be the ninth consecutive year that Bates has gone without sole possession of the CBB Trophy - the longest of any of the three Maine programs. Bates' last CBB title came in 2002 while Colby's last came in 2005. Bowdoin has won four out of the last five outright championships with a three-way tie in 2009.

After ranking among the top passing teams in the NESCAC over the last three seasons, the Polar Bears have transitioned into a ball-control attack, partially by design and partially by personnel. With injuries to its first and second string quarterbacks this fall, Bowdoin has relied on an excellent rushing attack and emerging defense to tip the scales.

The Polar Bears rank third in the league in total defense (265.3 yards/game), standing just behind first place unbeatens Trinity and Amherst. They rank fourth in scoring defense (15.7 points allowed/game) and against the rush (112.8 yards/game). Senior Peter Troubh has developed into one of the league's top defensive lineman, ranking second in the league with 5.0 sacks.

Meanwhile the offense ranks eighth in the conference in scoring (13.8) and total yards (233.5 yards/game) but has been opportunistic - Bowdoin has converted 11 of their 16 visits in the red zone into scores (68.8%), ranking fourth in the NESCAC. Additionally, the Polar Bears stand first in the league in time of possession (32:11) and have committed just nine turnovers through six games - the fourth least in the league.


Last week's victory over Wesleyan was the first time since 1998 - a span of 102 games - that Bowdoin won a game in which they did not score an offensive touchdown.

Bowdoin got two field goals from Jimmy Garvey - who now ranks second in the NESCAC with five on the season - and a record-breaking 85-yard punt return by Patrick Noone (at right) to clinch the win. Noone's return set a Bowdoin school record for longest punt return, breaking the record formerly held by Mort Soule '68, who returned a punt 72 yards for a score in 1966 at Colby.

The last time Bowdoin won without an offensive touchdown was in a 10-7 win over Colby on November 14, 1998 . The Polar Bears came away victorious thanks to a 30-yard field goal from Alex Tatum and a 66-yard interception return for a score by Chandler Perine.

Bowdoin's rushing offense has been excellent this season, averaging 130.7 yards per game on the ground. If that average holds, it will be a 43-yard per game improvement on last year's team and the highest rushing output by the Polar Bears since 2008. Zach Donnarumma ranks fourth in the league with 88.8 yards rushing per game and, entering Saturday's game, has accumulated 910 career yards. His 533 yards this year are already the most for a Polar Bear since Rob Patchett in 2004 and are on the verge of cracking the top-ten for a single-season in program history.

With three wins in the last four weeks, Bowdoin head coach Dave Caputi has moved up the career coaching list. He now has 28 career victories, ranking only behind Adam Walsh (63), James Lentz (55) and Howard Vandersea (46) in the 120-year history of Polar Bear football.

After starting the season 2-1 for the first time since 1982, and earning their first-ever appearance in the New England Division III rankings, the Bobcats have struggled. Bates has lost three straight, allowing an average of 35.6 points per game in the trio of losses.

Bates' triple-option offense has been consistent, and currently stands fourth in the league at 344.7 yards per contest. While no one is surprised that the Bobcats are averaging 149.0 yards/game on the ground, the Bobcats have also been efficient through the air. Quarterback Trevor Smith ranks second in the league with 1,174 passing yards and 12 touchdowns this year. Receivers John Squires and Ryan Curit have shared the benefits, each catching 35 balls to stand in a tie for fifth in the conference.

The Bates defense, however, has permitted 373.7 yards and 27.0 points per game, both ranking second-worst in the NESCAC. Last week, against a Colby offense that entered the game ranked seventh in the league in total offense (288.4) and eighth in points (13.2), the Bobcats allowed 490 yards and 37 points.

Last year in Brunswick, a 27-yard field goal attempt by Bates hit the upright with 51 seconds remaining to give Bowdoin a wild 21-20 win over Bates at Whittier Field. The Polar Bears would defeat Colby the following week to earn the CBB crown. Turnovers doomed Bates, as Bowdoin was able to cash in for 15 points on three Bates miscues. Receiver Brendan Garner '11 led the Bowdoin attack with six catches for 114 yards and two scores. Dan Evans has 12 solo tackles for the defense, who also received nine tackles, two forced fumbles and a recovery from Dominic Ridgard '11.

The Bowdoin-Bates rivalry, at 113 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 66-40-7 edge in the all-time series and have won six of the last seven meetings.