LEWISTON, Maine – Junior QB Ryan McDonald threw four touchdown passes, including a school-record tying three to junior WR Jack Dolan, as the Tufts football team won 37-17 at Bates College in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) action on Saturday.
|Tylor Scales returned his first career interception for a touchdown|
McDonald completed 21 of 36 passes for 245 yards and also ran for 81 yards on 21 carries to total 326 yards for the Jumbos (2-1). Dolan caught eight passes for 118 yards and the three scores while also averaging 22.3 yards on three kickoff returns.
Bates (0-3) was paced by 134 yards passing and 97 yards rushing by freshman quarterback Brendan Costa.
Dolan became the fourth receiver in Jumbo history to catch three touchdown passes in a game, and the first since Greg Lanzillo versus Colby in November 2014. McDonald became the first Jumbo to throw for four touchdowns since Alex Snyder did it at Wlliams College in October 2013. All three McDonald-to-Dolan connections today came in the first half as the Jumbos built a 30-10 lead.
It didn't start well for Tufts. After receiving the opening kickoff, they fumbled on their first play with Bates' Max Breschi recovering at the Jumbo 37. Following a Bobcat first down, the Tufts defense held and the hosts had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Grant DeWald for an early 3-0 lead.
The Jumbos responded with a methodical 11-play, 56-yard drive to take a lead that they would not relinquish. Getting the ball at the Bates 44 on a short kickoff, Tufts' longest play of the drive was the 11-yard scoring pass from McDonald to Dolan that gave them a 7-3 lead at the 8:12 mark of the opening quarter.
While the defenses turned the remainder of the first into a field-position battle, it was the Jumbos who were able to take advantage of it early in the second. Taking over at their own 44 after a punt, McDonald brought them 56 yards in eight plays. He again connected with Dolan, this time for a 29-yard score and a 14-3 lead at 10:08 of the second. McDonald twice converted third downs with runs during the drive.
The Jumbo defense was dominating as the second quarter rolled along. The offense then took advantage of a Bates pass interference call on third down to extend a drive. On the next play, McDonald and Dolan were at it again with a 59-yard scoring pass putting Tufts up 21-3 at the nine-minute mark. Dolan had three touchdowns and 112 yards on six receptions in the first 21 minutes of the game.
Tufts' explosive second quarter continued on Bates' next possession. On a third down and nine play, Jumbo sophomore LB Tylor Scales intercepted a pass and turned it into a pick-six from 33 yards out. The PAT failed, but Tufts suddenly had a commanding 27-3 advantage. They scored 20 points in just 1:47 of game time.
Bates stopped the Jumbo momentum with a big play of their own. On second and eight from the Tufts 30, Costa broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run that made the score 27-10 at 7:35 of the second quarter. Halfway through the second period, the teams had combined for 27 points in the frame.
Tufts would finish the second-quarter barrage of 30 combined points (23 by the Jumbos), adding a 22-yard field goal by freshman Matthew Alswanger for a 30-10 lead at the 2:43 mark. McDonald twice ran for first downs on fourth-down plays during the drive, including a 24-yard gain on fourth and 1 from the Bobcat 42.
Bates would pull within two scores in the third quarter. On a Bobcat punt, Tufts fumbled and Bates senior Mickoy Nichol recovered at the host's 35. The Bobcats drove the field and converted a fourth and 13 play with a 28-yard pass from Costa to freshman Jaason Lopez, setting up first and goal on the Tufts three-yard line. However, the Jumbo defense stuffed the Bobcats, with a pair of plays by senior DL Doug Harrison and solo stops by sophomore DB Miles Shipp and junior DL Nmesoma Nwafor turning the ball over on downs.
The Bobcat defense responded by forcing a Jumbo three-and-out and a punt from the end zone. Bates took over at the Tufts 24-yard line and Costa completed a 14-yard pass to senior Brian Daly to convert a third down. Two plays later, junior Kyle Flaherty scored from two yards out to make it a 30-17 game with 2:29 remaining in the third.
Tufts had an answer, starting with Dolan's 33-yard kickoff return to the Jumbo 37. On a third and 15 play from their own 43, McDonald found sophomore TE Winton Blount for 27 yards and a first down at the Bates 30. As the game headed to the fourth, McDonald hit junior WR Daniel de Leon with a 27-yard scoring pass on the first play of the quarter to extend the lead to 37-17.
Though it would not result in any points, the Jumbos mounted an extraordinary 16-play drive that took up 9:55 of game time in the fourth. McDonald converted a third and 10 with a 12-yard run in the midst of the possession. By the time Bates got the ball back, only 3:37 remained.
Junior Alex LaPiana had a strong day punting for Tufts, averaging 43.2 yards and putting two inside the 20. Freshman RB Mike Pedrini did solid work helping Tufts kill clock in the fourth, running 12 times for 44 yards. Senior LB Steve DiCienzo led the Jumbos with nine tackles, while Harrison had six stops including a sack. Tufts' defense held Bates to three for 17 on third down.
Costa finished 14 for 33 passing for Bates, gaining 134 yards. Lopez caught four balls for 60 yards. Junior LB Bobby Dee led the hosts defensively with 10 stops while sophomore DB John Lindgren made two pass break-ups.
The Jumbos return to Somerville next Saturday to play their Homecoming game against Bowdoin. Bates is at Williams next.