Kagan '20 runs wild as football wins season opener at Bowdoin

David Kagan '20 (Josh McKee photo)
David Kagan '20 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College's David Kagan '20 ran for 195 yards and three touchdowns and the Continentals defeated the Bowdoin College Polar Bears 37-24 at Bowdoin's Whittier Field on Saturday afternoon.

Hamilton won a season opener for the first time since 2011 when they defeated Tufts University 24-16. The Continentals extended their win streak against the Polar Bears to four games. Hamilton hosts Wesleyan University at Steuben Field on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.

Bowdoin (0-1) had trailed 21-10 at the half but rallied to take a 24-21 lead with touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters. The Polar Bears surrendered 16 points in the final 8:22 and their final three drives ended with a punt, an interception and a turnover on downs.

Kagan's rushing total was the most for the Continentals since Brandon Holtslag ran for 230 yards against Bowdoin back in 2004. Kagan, who averaged nearly 10 yards per carry, came into the day with 218 career yards and one rushing touchdown. Hamilton ran for a total of 246 yards and outgained the Polar Bears 403-321. The Continentals averaged nearly eight yards per play.

Kenny Gray '20 was 8 of 20 passing for 157 yards and a touchdown to Will Budington '21 for Hamilton. Gray also ran for a 28-yard score. Joe Schmidt '20 led all receivers with 78 yards and his three receptions left him tied with Joe Rinaldo '08 for the program's career lead with 138.

Carmine Bruno '20 was credited with a career-high 15 tackles including 12 solo stops for the Continentals. James Ball '21 had 1.5 sacks and Alex Ganter '20 added a half sack. Christian Snell '22 returned an interception 27 yards and Justin Leigh '20 broke up two passes. Billy Wagner '20 averaged 37.2 yards on five punts and Sam Robinson '20 averaged nearly 27 yards on four kick returns.

Austin McCrum was 24 of 43 for 229 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Bowdoin. Nate Richam-Odoi rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for another 39 yards. Bo Millett led the Polar Bears with 70 yards receiving on six catches. Bowdoin was 10 of 20 on third-down conversions and held the ball for more than 37 minutes. Joe Gowetski topped the Polar Bears with nine solo tackles.

Richam-Odoi put Bowdoin back in the lead for the first time since the first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:26 left in the fourth. McCrum completed a two-point conversion pass to Gregory Olson as McCrum was getting tackled and the Polar Bears held a 24-21 advantage.

Hamilton responded quickly as Kagan burst straight up the middle for a 70-yard gain and punched it into the end zone from 4 yards out on the next play with 8:22 remaining. Sam Thoreen '22 added the extra point and the Continentals went back up 28-24.

Bowdoin gained just 7 yards on their next possession and its punt was downed at the Hamilton 41-yard line. Kagan rumbled for 49 yards on second down and ran it in from the Polar Bears 2 two plays later for a 34-24 cushion with 5:19 to go.

Snell ended any hopes for a Bowdoin comeback with a 27-yard interception return to the Polar Bears 8 on the next play. Thoreen nailed a 23-yard field goal -- the sixth of his collegiate career -- for a 13-point lead for the Continentals with 2:30 left.

Bowdoin took an early 3-0 lead on a 29-yard field goal by Michael Chen with 9:15 left in the first quarter. Gray's 28-yard touchdown run 2:03 later put Hamilton in front and Gray found Budington for a 32-yard scoring toss with 12:57 remaining in the second quarter. That play was preceded by a 45-yard pass from Gray to Schmidt. Thoreen's PAT made it 14-3. Each of the Continentals' five touchdown drives took less than two minutes.

The Polar Bears pulled back within four at 14-10 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from McCrum to Brendan Ward and a Chen extra point with 2:02 to go in the half. Hamilton's quick-strike offense was up to the challenge as Gray found Christian Donahoe '20 down the middle for a 31-yard gain to the Bowdoin 18 and Kagan bolted into the end zone from there. Thoreen's PAT put the Continentals up by 11 again with 49 seconds left. Hamilton went into the locker room with that 21-10 lead.

The Polar Bears moved within striking distance again on their first possession of the second half. McCrum's 2-yard touchdown run with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter ended an eight-play drive that was highlighted by a 19-yard catch by Millett and a 19-yard scamper by Richam-Odoi. The score remained 21-16 for the next 15 minutes as four of the next five drives ended with punts.