Date Posted:10/13/2005,  12:30PM

Football vs. Hamilton Game Notes

The Bowdoin College Polar Bears will host Hamilton on Saturday, October 15th at Whittier Field. It is Homecoming Weekend at Bowdoin and Athletics will play a prominent role, as always, in the festivities.

Saturday, the Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor will induct five new members, and at halftime of the football game Bowdoin will rededicate the Jack Magee Track in honor of Joan Benoit Samuelson '79. You can read more about both of these stories on the Bowdoin Athletics website.

Fans can listen to the game live on the web via Free Teamline. Click the link at approximately 11:50 to listen to the contest:

Most who follow the Polar Bears already know the numbers, but Bowdoin is off to their best start in decades. With victories over Middlebury, Amherst and Tufts to begin the 2005 campaign, Bowdoin is 3-0 for the first time since 1964. Even more impressive is the fact that Bowdoin is attempting to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1938.

Incidentally, the captain of the 1938 squad and the coach of the 1964 were one and the same; C. Nels Corey '39. One of the inaugural members of the Athletic Hall of Honor at Bowdoin, best wishes go out to Nels, who has been under the weather recently.

Bowdoin has yet to dominate an opponent, but has possibly been the most opportunistic team in Division III college football. Entering last week's game, Bowdoin ranked first in the nation in turnover margin, averaging plus-three turnovers per game. The Polar Bears exceeded that number at Tufts, forcing four Jumbo turnovers in a two-point victory.

The Polar Bears have outscored their opponents 48-42 this season and despite ranking ninth in the league in total defense (386.7), Bowdoin is allowing just 14 points per game. In addition, the defensive corps has scored two touchdowns this season to aid the cause. Shaun Kezer leads Bowdoin with 33 total tackles this year, while John Regan has picked off two passes and forced three fumbles.

The Polar Bears offense has been advantageous, averaging 226.3 yards per contest and 3.5 yards per play. Bowdoin has mixed a balanced running attack with the lethal combination of quarterback Ricky Leclerc and receiver Jeff Nolin to perfection. Nolin leads the NESCAC in receving yards, averaging 98.0 yards per game and 19.6 yards per catch.

Hamilton has a 1-2 mark in their first three games, despite being outscored 105-27. The Continentals scored 24 of those points in a five-point victory over Wesleyan, sandwiched by losses to Amherst (28-3) and Trinity (58-0).

The Continentals rank ninth in the NESCAC in total offense (186.7 per game) and tenth in the conference in total defense (453.7 per game) this year. The great equalizer for Hamilton is quarterback Brandon Holtslag, one of the most versatile players in the conference. He ranks third in the league in total offense, posting 286 passing yards and 171 rushing yards this season. Hamilton did put it all together two weeks ago against Wesleyan, when Holstag scored three times on rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, Matt Pitarresi has 20 solo stops this year, including five pass break-ups for Hamilton. Taylor Soobitsky has been the Continentals' top pass-rusher, racking up 3.5 sacks so far this season.

Last year in Clinton, Holtslag rushed for 230 yards and scored the game-winner in extra frames as Hamilton capped a furious comeback with a 51-48 two-overtime victory. Bowdoin led 38-17 in the third quarter, but could not hold off the Continentals. Rob Patchett '05 had a career-high 233 yards and three touchdowns, while "Big-Play" Steve Curwen had a game-high 12 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery an interception. Jeremy Kozak led Hamilton with 10 tackles on the day.

Bowdoin has played Hamilton 21 times entering Saturday's contest, and the teams have shared some close contests over the past few seasons. Hamilton leads the all-time series 12-9 and has beaten Bowdoin the last two seasons. The Polar Bears took victories in the previous two years and has won five of the last eight meetings.