Waterville, Maine - The Colby College Football team took its first step in defending the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) Trophy by defeating Bates College 23-20 on Saturday at home. Sophomore running back Devin Marrocco (headline photo) found the end zone three times in the first half, and junior linebacker Marcus Bullard added another 10 tackles to his NESCAC-leading total.
The momentum was all on the side of the home team early. Colby converted each of four first half drives into points and held a 23-0 lead with less than a minute to play in the first half. While Marrocco was the one who found the end zone, it was a concerted offensive effort. Quarterback Matt Hersch went 7 for 13 for 130 yards on the four drives, completing passes to five different receivers. Running back Chris George picked up 28 yards and Marrocco added 36 to go with his three touchdowns.
The defense held firm as well. In the first 29 minutes of play the Bobcats turned the ball over on downs twice, threw one interception, and punted the ball away once. With 40 seconds to play, Bates turned its fifth and final drive of the half into a 70 yard scoring drive, reaching the end zone as the clock ticked zero. Quarterback Brendan Costa was 3-5 on the drive and accounted for all 70 yards through the air. The game entered the half with a score of 23-6.
In the second half, Bates came out of the locker room and showed their momentum carried over. Colby was only able to gain 78 second-half yards to 147 from the visitors. The visitors stayed in the game with their stiff defense and their special teams play. Colby kicker/punter Moises Celaya was tormented by the Bobcats in the second half, having a field goal and a punt blocked, and also being tackled on another punt attempt. He was only able to get away two of his four punts, and those only netted 27 yards of field position on average.
The Mules' defense stood strong when it mattered. After Bates clawed to within three and had the ball on the Colby 37 yard line after the blocked punt, the Mules held on three crucial plays in the red zone. Set up with a first and 10 from the 11 yard line, defensive lineman Patrick Sopko (six tackles, two for a loss, one sack) backed the Bobcats up when he reached around his blocker and dragged down Costa with one hand for a sack. On third and 17 it appeared Bates had taken the lead on a touchdown pass from Costa to Stephen Brackett, but a holding penalty pulled the points off the board. The ensuing retry of third down fell incomplete, as did the fourth down attempt and the ball was turned over on downs.
Bates got one final drive attempt with just over one minute to play. Set up by the second failed punt attempt at the Colby 45, the Mules held despite only rushing three and forced an incompletion on fourth and three that bounced in and out of the receivers hands.
Hersch tallied his fourth 200 yard game of the year finishing 15-25 for 206 yards without a touchdown or interception. Marrocco had 42 yards on the ground including his three touchdowns. Chris George added 43 on the ground and another 40 receiving. Andrew DeFranco was the leading receiver for the Mules with five catches for 76 yards. Defensively, Colby had four sacks by Sopko, Carson Katen, Marc Dougherty, and David O'Donnell and Nick Hall intercepted Costa and returned it for 25 yards to set up Colby's second touchdown. Bullard notched his fifth double-digit tackles game of the year.
Colby will have to wait a week to secure the CBB Trophy, as Bates and Bowdoin College meet next weekend. Colby will host 3-4 Tufts University on Saturday at 1:00pm.