AMHERST, Mass. – Senior quarterback Ollie Eberth threw three touchdown passes in the second half, including two of 40+ yards to classmate James O'Regan, and Amherst College came from behind to beat Bates 27-13 in the season opener for both teams at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Bobcats led 13-6 at halftime but the Amherst defense held them off the scoreboard in the second half to improve to 1-0 on the year and 27-4-2 against Bates (0-1).
O'Regan finished the day with five catches for 114 yards and the two scores, and Luke Mallette '20 caught a touchdown to extend the lead to its final margin as part of a 5 catch, 44 yard receiving day.
The Amherst defense forced four turnovers, including one on the opening kickoff when Tristan Andrzejewski '21 pounced on the ball to give Amherst possession at the Bates 21 yard line.
That drive ended in a 24-yard Connor Kennelly '22 field goal to put Amherst up 3-0. Kennelly would later tie the game with a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter, but the Mammoths could not find the end zone before halftime.
Junior Brendan Costa threw for a touchdown in the first quarter for the Bobcats, hitting Liam Spillane with 7:11 to play in the opening period. Just before halftime, Costa capped off an 11-play, 57 yard drive by darting up the middle from the eight-yard line, and Bates took a seven-point lead into the halftime locker room.
Amherst tied the game on their first possession of the second half. Eberth rushed for 20 yards to the Amherst 45 yard-line, then, two plays later hit O'Regan, who raced down the field for 45 yards to the end zone. Kennelly's point after attempt tied the game at 13.
Bates forced their only turnover of the day when Jose Calleja intercepted Eberth at the Bates 25 yard-line midway through the third quarter, but Amherst forced a three and out.
The game-winning score was set up by another turnover forced by the Amherst defense. With 12:49 to play in the fourth, Joe Kelly '21 forced a fumble by Jaason Lopez and senior Nick Tighe pounced on the ball.
On the very next play, Eberth found O'Regan streaking down the left sideline and floated the ball into his receiver in stride.
Ricky Goodson '21 and Manni Malone '22 teamed up to strip the ball from Lopez again in the quarter, and Eberth hit Mallette for a nine-yard touchdown after driving down the field 63 yards in eight plays.
The senior quarterback led the team in rushing, with 68 yards on 12 attempts, while also throwing for 231 yards. Brandon Huff '22 gained 38 yards on the ground and Louie Eckelkamp '23 rushed for 31 yards on seven carries.
Christian Olivieri was the favorite target of Costa. Olivieri caught six passes for 48 yards. On the ground, Spillane gained 55 yards on 11 attempts.
Connor Hunt had seven tackles for the Bates defensive unit and also broke up a pass. Peter Daley, Tony Hooks and Spencer Adams all blocked kicks for the Bobcats.
Bates prepares for their home opener next Saturday with a 1:00 PM game against Middlebury.
Amherst hits the road for the next two weeks, starting Saturday at Colby in Waterville, Maine.