WATERVILLE — The Colby football team is 3-3 this season, but after beating Bates 21-3 in the first game of the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin series Saturday afternoon, the Mules are 1-0 in the minds of players and coaches.

“I don’t want to sound too Belichickian, but you have to focus on what’s in front of you,” Colby head coach Jonathan Michaeles said. “Certainly this being a CBB game was huge and people were excited about it. But we have a quarter of our season left.”

It’s the second straight win for Colby, which deafeated Hamilton 37-18 a week ago.

The Mules defeated the Bobcats on Saturday with a strong defensive effort. Colby held Bates (2-4), a run-heavy triple-option team, to 88 yards rushing.

“The defense was unbelievable,” Michaeles said. “This was fun.”

The run defense forced the Bobcats to throw the ball 30 times. Before Saturday, Bates had thrown the ball 35 times the entire season.

“It was part of where we are,” Bates head coach Mark Harriman said in regards to the heavy passing attack. “We have two young quarterbacks, in three games we only threw about six passes. We’re trying to progress to be a little more balanced. We knew that the way Colby played run defense, we’d have to throw a little bit more.”

Colby linebackers Stephen O’Grady and Henry Nelson each had nine tackles, and CT Harris and Henry Wallrapp each had a sack. Harris, who has six sacks this season, entered the game second in the New England Small College Athletic Conference in that category.

“We knew from the beginning if we shut down the run, they’d be forced to pass,” Harris said. “Our coach says it’s a treat to be able to pass rush.”

“Our whole D-line has been banged up, but now we’re getting healthy and we’re getting some valuable experience and now it’s paying dividends,” Michaeles said.

Colby forced three turnovers — two interceptions (Jason Buco and Mark Vargas) and a fumble recovery.

The Mules were also able to win the field position battle thanks to punter Louw Scheepers, who dropped five punts inside the Bobcats 20-yard line.

The Mules scored their first touchdown on their first drive of the game. Running back Carl Lapani took a handoff and found a huge hole up the middle of the field for a 49-yard touchdown run.

Bates responded with a 31-yard field goal by Charlie Donahue in the second quarter, but Colby responded on the next drive. After quarterback Justin Ciero connected on a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Ryder Arsenault to set the offense up at the 6-yard line, Lapani took a handoff up the middle and scored his second touchdown to give the Mules a 14-3 lead.

Ciero tacked on a 25-yard TD run in the third quarter for the Mules.

“(Colby) did a great job in all phases of the game,” Harriman said. “They outplayed us, certainly. They deserve the win, no question about that.”

Ciero struggled passing, connecting on 10 of 22 passes for 165 yards and an interception, but he led Colby with 87 yards rushing on 21 carries. Lapani had 68 yards on 10 carries. Cony graduate Luke Duncklee had five receptions for 60 yards, while Arsenault had four receptions for 100 yards.

Ryan Curit led the Bobcats with 120 total yards (38 rushing, 82 receiving). Bates used two quarterbacks throughout the game. Nick LaSpada connected on 14 of 23 passes for 176 yards and two interceptions, while Matt Cannone was 2 of 7 for 16 yards and an interception.

Colby hosts Tufts next weekend, before finishing the season on the road against rival Bowdoin on Nov. 9. But the Mules aren’t looking that far ahead.

“One of the goals on our sheet is to go 1-0 every Saturday,” Harris said. “Every week is a season onto itself, like coach Michaeles says. We concentrate every week on that opponent, prepare our game plan, and have our mindset just on those guys.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5639
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