Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics
BRUNSWICK, Maine - Sparked by their special teams and a balanced offensive effort, the Bowdoin College football team rallied from an early 12-point deficit to earn their first victory of the season, 22-15, over Tufts University on Saturday. The Polar Bears improve to 1-2 this season while the Jumbos fall to 1-2 overall.
Bowdoin was paced by the efforts of first-year running back Zach Donnarumma, who rushed for a career-high 114 yards, and receiver Pat Noone, who caught 13 passes, one shy of his own Bowdoin record. Rookie Griffin Cardew intercepted a pair of passes for the Polar Bears in the win.
The Jumbos, who threw 69 passes on the afternoon, easily marched down the field after receiving the opening kick-off for the game's first score. Tufts went 66 yards in nine plays, with quarterback Anthony Fuccillo finding Pat Bailey over the middle on the drive's final play to give the visitors a 6-0 lead just 3:25 into the game after a missed PAT by Adam Auerbach. The Jumbos doubled their lead just moments later as a pass from Bowdoin quarterback R.J. to Paul Hinman was bobbled and fell into the waiting arms of Tufts' Tommy Castle, who returned the pick 48 yards down the sideline to paydirt. Auerbach's PAT was blocked by Bowdoin, keeping the score 12-0.
Bowdoin found the endzone early in the second quarter on a drive of 60 over six plays. After Cardew's first interception set the Polar Bears up at midfield, Shea found Noone over the middle for 15 yards and, four plays later, found Dave Westhaver down the right sideline for a 24-yard touchdown strike that cut the lead to 12-7. Tufts replied with a 15-play, 67-yard drive that ended in an Auerbach 28-yard field goal, but Bowdoin quickly answered with a score of their own. Shea hooked up with Sean O'Malley for 18 yards and then Noone for 22 to put Bowdoin in good field position. Donnarumma took it from there, rushing for 20 yards up the middle and then taking a one-yard plunge into the end zone to make it 15-13 at halftime.
After a three-and-out by Bowdoin, Tufts also went three-and-out, but a bobbled snap on their punt attempt gave the Polar Bears the ball at the Jumbos 18. Donnarumma capped the drive with a slashing run off tackle to give Bowdoin their first lead of the game, 19-15 after a missed two-point conversion. Bill Donahue added a key 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to up the lead to 22-15 with 13:21 remaining.
Bowdoin punter Grant White made it difficult for Tufts over the final quarter, placing two punts deep inside Tufts territory and Cardew sealed the win with an interception as the Jumbos were driving for the game-tying score with 1:21 left.
Fuccillo ended with 356 yards passing on 34-69 attempts. His top targets were Billy Mahler (11 catches, 103 yards) and Dylan Haas (nine catches, 138 yards). Matt Murray led Tufts with nine total tackles while Donnie Simmons had six stops and 1.5 sacks. Despite totaling 407 yards of offense, the Jumbos could only muster 2-4 attempts in the red zone as Bowdoin's defense bent but did not break in allowing just nine points to the Tufts offense.
Shea went 15-28 for 173 yards passing for Bowdoin while also rushing for 39 yards. 13 of his passes went to Noone, who fell one catch shy of his school mark of 14 set last year against Wesleyan. Noone finished with 230 all-purpose yards for the contest. Mark Oppenheim ended with a team-leading 11 tackles for the Polar Bears, who had eight pass break-ups, led by Cardew's three.