Gray '20 throws two TD passes in football loss against Bates

Kenny Gray '20 (Josh McKee photo)
Kenny Gray '20 (Josh McKee photo)

Bates College's Brendan Costa threw four touchdown passes and the Bobcats rallied for a 26-21 NESCAC win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Hamilton's Steuben Field on a chilly Saturday in early November.

Bates (2-7 NESCAC), which ended a 17-game losing skid with a 30-5 victory against Bowdoin College last week, fell behind 21-0 midway through the second quarter but scored 26 points in the last 31 minutes. Costa found Sean Bryant in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter and Simon Redfern added the extra point for the final margin.

The Continentals (4-5) were aiming for their first winning season since 1996 when they finished 5-3. Hamilton gained 251 yards of total offense and was 0 of 4 on fourth down. The defense came up with two turnovers and ended up plus-13 in turnover margin. Hamilton led the conference in turnover margin going into the weekend and ended up tied for second with 16 interceptions.

Kenny Gray '20 was 16 of 30 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns for the Continentals. Gray ended his career as the program's all-time leader with 43 touchdown passes and is second with 519 career completions and 5,944 yards. Gray also placed all five of his punts inside the Bobcats' 20-yard line.

Joe Park '22 rushed for a team-high 55 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries for Hamilton. Sam Thoreen '22 was perfect on three PATs and set the team single-season record with 10 made field goals this year.

Carmine Bruno '20 and Sam Bowen '20 paced the Continentals with six tackles apiece. Bruno finished sixth in the NESCAC with 69 stops and 7.7 per game. Pat Morelli '20 picked up his first career sack, Christian Snell '22 picked off his third pass this fall, James Ball '21 recovered a fumble and Justin Leigh '20 broke up two passes.

Costa was 16 of 30 for 191 yards through the air and added 72 yards rushing. Bryant caught three touchdown passes and posted a game-high 93 yards receiving. Mohamed Coulibaly, Jon Lindgren and Tony Hooks were credited with six tackles each. Liam Greene was all over Hamilton's backfield with three sacks and Thomas Formus forced and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff in the second half.

The Continentals scored a touchdown on three of their first four drives. Hamilton took over at its own 39 on its opening possession and drove 61 yards in just four plays. Gray passed to Sam Robinson '20 for 12 yards, David Kagan '20 busted up the middle for 11 more and Gray went back to Robinson for a 34-yard touchdown with 12:16 remaining in the first quarter. Robinson was wide open down the left sideline, caught the ball at the 5 and waltzed into the end zone with his fourth touchdown receiving this year.

Ball fell on a loose ball at the Bates 45 after a fumbled exchange between Costa and a running back, but the Continentals went three and out. The Bobcats started their next drive at their own 6 and picked up two first downs before Snell returned an interception eight yards to the Bates 37 with 5:18 to go.

Hamilton capped a 10-play drive with Gray's 3-yard touchdown pass to Christian Donahoe '20 with 1:38 left in the first. Gray found Donahoe on a fade route to the left corner of the end zone for Donahoe's third touchdown reception of 2019. The Continentals went 3-for-3 on third-down conversions during the drive including an 18-yard catch by Connor Cates '21 on third-and-16 and a nine-yard scramble by Gray on third-and-eight.

The Bobcats lost six yards on their next possession and a short punt gave Hamilton the ball at its own 41 as the first quarter ended. A 17-yard run by Park off left tackle and down the left sideline capped a nine-play drive that took 5:39 off the clock in the second quarter. Park ran for 29 yards on a drive that was aided by a 15-yard defensive pass interference call on third-and-12. The touchdown run was Park's third this season and the 10th of his collegiate career.

The Continentals' last nine drives ended with a punt four times, a turnover on downs four times and a lost fumble. Hamilton's deepest penetration into Bates territory was the 28-yard line during those nine drives.

The Bobcats scored their first touchdown after snuffing a fake punt attempt by the Continentals and taking over at their own 47 with 1:37 remaining in the half. Bryant's 15-yard touchdown catch with 16.1 seconds to go pulled Bates within 21-6. The Bobcats went for two and Costa was hit and fumbled. Jeremy Barr '21 ended up with the loose ball and returned it all the way to the other end zone but a flag on Hamilton for an illegal block wiped out the two points.

Bates recovered a fumble at the Continentals 20 on the second half's opening kickoff and Costa found Bryant for a 20-yard touchdown two plays later. Costa's pass attempt on the two-point conversion was knocked away and Hamilton still led 21-12 with 13:58 left in the third quarter.

It remained a nine-point game until 2:31 to go in the fourth quarter when Costa tossed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Parker Smith. Redfern's extra point drew the Bobcats within 21-19.

The Continentals took over at their own 36 after the ensuing kickoff but couldn't come up with a first down and Gray lined up to punt. Peter Daley busted through Hamilton's blockers and forced Gray to pull the ball down and run, but Greene brought him down at the 25. Costa hooked up with Bryant for the go-ahead score two plays later.

The Continentals had 63 seconds to go 70 yards as they hoped there was still some Steuben Field magic. An offensive holding penalty and another flag for intentional grounding on back-to-back plays ended Hamilton's hope for its first five-win season in 23 years.