LEWISTON, Maine – Points were hard to come by for both Amherst College and Bates College on Saturday afternoon. The teams played a scoreless first half in their New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football opener, but eventually the Mammoths found their way to the end zone and defeated the Bobcats 19-7 at Garcelon Field.
Hickey carried the ball 22 times for 137 yards and the touchdown to pace the Mammoths (1-0) and Eberth ran for 58 yards to go along with 112 passing yards.
The Mammoth defense kept Bates and sophomore quarterback Brendan Costa to just 90 yards in the air.
The Bobcats (0-1) got 44 rushing yards from Costa, who was 12-21 on pass attempts. Sophomore Parker Smith caught three passes for 40 yards on the afternoon.
Both punters got a workout throughout the defensive struggle, with Amherst punter Henry Atkeson '20 punting six times for an average of 38.8 yards per punt, with a long of 48 and two times pinning the Bobcats inside their 20.
After a scoreless first half, the Mammoths marched down the field on the opening drive of the third quarter to get on the board first. Facing 3rd and 11 at their own 24, Eberth completed a pass to Bo Berluti '19 for 14 yards and a first down. The Bobcats thought they had the Mammoths stopped after sophomore David Campbell stopped Eberth four yards shy of the first down at the 44 yard line. But on the punt, a Bates player ran into the punter and the five yard penalty gave the Mammoths a first down.
Amherst immediately took advantage of the mistake, with Eberth finding Berluti for a 20-yard gain to the Bates 31. Then on the next play from scrimmage, Hickey carried the ball 31 yards to the end zone for the first score of the game. The Mammoths made the extra point to go up 7-0 with 11:04 remaining in the third quarter.
An illegal block on the ensuing kickoff set up Bates with terrible field position at the Bobcat five yard line. A three-and-out led to Amherst getting the ball back at the Bates 49. The Mammoths picked up a first down on 3rd and one which was quickly followed by an 11-yard Hickey run to the Bates 26.
After a three-yard Hickey rush, Eberth ran the ball 15 yards down to the Bates eight. He ran it again down to the one and after his first QB sneak attempt failed, the second pushed his way in to put the Mammoths up 13-0 with 5:23 to play in the third quarter after the Mammoths missed the extra point.
Neither team scored for the rest of the quarter but Bates took advantage of a turnover to cut the deficit to six in the fourth quarter. An Eberth fumble on a bad snap was recovered by Walter Washington at the Amherst 32. Then the Bobcats ran the ball with junior Zach Doyon on back-to-back plays before Costa sprinted down the near sideline to the end zone on a 26-yard run, cutting the deficit to 13-7 with 7:23 remaining in regulation.
Eberth and Hickey used their legs again to get a huge insurance score for Amherst. After a solid return by Joe Masterson '21 to the Amherst 35, Hickey ran the ball for six yards and Eberth sprinted for 24 and a first down to the Bates 35.
Hickey carried multiple tacklers for an 11-yard run to the Bates 24 and Eberth unleashed an 11-yard run of his own to the Bobcat 13. After Hickey bruised his way to the Bates eight, Eberth ran it in for his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon. The Mammoths failed on their two-point conversion attempt but nonetheless grabbed a 19-7 lead over Bates with 4:23 remaining in the game.
A huge sack by Matt Albino '21 helped Amherst stop the Bobcats from pushing their way any closer before the clock ran out.
Bates junior Jon Lindgren led all players with 12 total tackles, including a tackle for loss. Bates forced three turnovers and only turned the ball over once themselves.
The Mammoths outgained Bates 338 to 150 in total offense on the afternoon and Berluti led all receivers with six catches for 62 yards.
Bates is back in action next Saturday when the Bobcats visit defending NESCAC champion Trinity. Kick is set for 1:00 pm.
Amherst plays their home opener next weekend, with a 1:00 PM kickoff against Hamilton set for Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium.