Colby players celebrate after they stopped Bowdoin on a fourth down during a game Saturday night in Waterville. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

WATERVILLE — The first half of the season finale against Bowdoin on Saturday night didn’t go how the Colby football team wanted.

The Mules mustered 67 yards of total offense and gained just three first downs through the first two quarters.

The second half? Well, that was much different, as the Mules outscored the Polar Bears 21-7 to take a 21-10 victory and its third straight Colby-Bates-Bowdoin title. The Mules defeated Bates 10-2 on Oct. 30.

It was the first time Colby played a football game at its Harold Alfond Stadium under the lights.

Senior quarterback Matt Hersch ran nine times for 41 yards and two touchdowns, including one with 4:51 from two yards out to give the Mules the lead for good.

“I think this is a huge win for the seniors,” said Hersch, who completed 14 of his 22 passes for 143 yards. “We came into Colby when the program was in a bit of a down year, now to finish like this is just an amazing feeling.”

Devin Marrocco led the Mules (4-5) with 48 yards on 12 carries. Keon Smart rushed for 36 yards on eight carries, while Matt Panker had four catches for 44 yards.

“I’ve learned since I’ve been here at Colby that this is a very important game,” Colby head coach Jack Cosgrove said. “It’s one you want to bring home and one you want to get, and we got it. I’m so proud of the work the guys put in all season leading up to this moment, they deserve it.”

A play unfolds in the second quarter of the Colby and Bowdoin football game on Saturday in Waterville. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

Bowdoin finished 1-8. The Polar Bears sank Amherst College 21-14 on Oct. 16 for its first victory since the 2018 season.

The Mules exploded for 189 yards in the second half, mainly thanks to Hersch.

“I didn’t start how I wanted to, but my guys were picking me up all night,” he said. “I think that once we found the end zone and had some success throwing the ball, we were pretty much able to do whatever we wanted on offense.”

After Andre Eden of Bowdoin scored from 3 yards out to push the lead to 10, the Mules drove 77 yards on 16 plays in just over eight minutes to pull closer. Donovan Ganges capped the drive when he scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the third quarter to cut the lead to three.

“They (Bowdoin) played a defense that we hadn’t really seen, I think it threw us off,” Cosgrove said. “The boys adapted and the coaching staff made some adjustments to counter it and we went from there.”

After the Polar Bears were forced to punt, the Mules drove the field again before Hersch punched it in from 2 yards to give Colby its first lead of the game. On the ensuing possession, Colby freshman defensive back Joshua East picked off Bowdoin quarterback Andrew Boel. After draining some time off the clock, Hersch added his second touchdown of the day when he scampered in from 19 yards with 2:10 to go, all but sealing the win.

“It was an option,” said Hersch of the touchdown. “I saw a hole my guys made for me and took it from there.”

Boel finished 13 of 24 passing for 135 yards and an interception. Eden carried the ball 22 times for 100 yards and a touchdown to pace the Polar Bears. Colton Fahey led the Polar Bears with four catches for 42 yards.

“I think we can look back on this season and think of it as a success,” Hersch said. “From where we started to where we finished is quite the accomplishment.”

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