Staff Writer

The Colby College defense played its best game of the season last week in a 13-7 win at Hamilton. The Mules forced six turnovers — three interceptions and three fumble recoveries — and picked up seven sacks.

“We dominated things up front,” coach Ed Mestieri said. “We just played with that confidence and swagger that we’re capable of doing. Every time we seemed to lose momentum, the defense got it back for us. It lifted everybody.”

Now, Mestieri hopes to see some carry over from that effort, as the Mules prepare to play the two biggest games of the season in the next three weeks.

The Colby-Bates-Bowdoin series begins this weekend at Colby (1-4) when the Mules host Bates (2-3). Next week, Bates hosts Bowdoin (2-3) and, in two weeks, Colby plays at Bowdoin in the season finale.

Bowdoin is the defending CBB champ.

Colby entered last week’s game with just one sack for the season. One of the reasons for the improvement, Mestieri said, is younger players becoming more confident with more playing time. Freshman linebacker Henry Nelson, for instance, had 10 tackles.

“Those guys who were young three or four weeks ago, they’re not quite as young anymore. They’re just playing with a lot more confidence. They’re starting to understand what they’re doing,” Mestieri said.

In Bates, the Mules’ defense sees a unique offense. The Bobcats run the triple option, but they run it out of a pistol formation.

“They’re always in the shotgun, with the running back directly behind the quarterback. What makes their attack unusual is that they throw the ball extremely well, and they throw it a lot more than option teams typically do. They’re throwing the ball 25-plus times a game,” Mestieri said.

Bowdoin receivers John Squires and Ryan Curit each have 31 catches and are the favorite targets of quarterback Trevor Smith.

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Maine Maritime Academy suffered a tough setback when quarterback Matt Rende of Augusta suffered an injury at Framingham State two weeks ago. One of the top running quarterbacks in the nation, Rende was replaced by Lawrence graduate Ben Violette.

Against Massachusetts Maritime last week, Violette threw the ball 21 times. In MMA’s triple option, that much passing is rare. The Mariners threw the ball just 47 times all of the 2010 season. Violette’s pass attempts were split evenly throughout the game, 10 in the first half, 11 in the second.

The Mariners (4-3) host Bridgewater State on Saturday.

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While Colby and Bates play the first leg of the CBB, Bowdoin will prepare for its in-state rivals by hosting Wesleyan.

The Polar Bears have struggled with the Cardinals in recent years, allowing at least 41 points to Wesleyan in each of the last two meetings.

Injuries have forced Bowdoin to use three different quarterbacks this season, and it ranks next to last in the New England Small College Athletic Conference in passing yards at 118.2 yards per game. The rushing game, however, is solid, averaging 113.2 yards per game.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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