With the score 22-10 and 5:45 left in the game, Colby offense began its possession at midfield, hoping to create an opportunity to extend the team’s lead. 11 seconds later, the possession was over and six more points were on the board. Running back Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 had just smoked the Bowdoin defense for a 50-yard touchdown run. The crowd erupted. The play was just one of the many fourth quarter moments that pushed Colby to a 32-16 win over Bowdoin, finishing their most successful season since 2013.
While neither team was elegible to win the NESCAC, both Colby and Bowdoin still looked to make a statement in their final game. For Colby, a win would redeem their 35-13 loss to Bowdoin last year. For Bowdoin, it would be their first win of the season against a bitter rival.
Part of what made the win possible was the return of two key players from injury that game. Seniors Hurdle-Price and quarterback Gabe Harrington ’17 returned to the field for the final game of their Colby careers. Harrington had not played since an ACL tear in the opening game of the season and watched the first possession from the sidelines.Christian Sparacio ’18 got the start instead and went 2-3 for 13 yards on the opening drive, leading the march to the Bowdoin 7-yard line where the team settled for a John Baron ’18 field goal.
Harrington took the reins on the next possession, completing his first three pass attempts to three different receivers. Harrington and Hurdle-Price brought the team to the Bowdoin 5. However, the Polar Bear defense held strong at the goal line once again, and the Mules had to settle for another Baron field goal.
That was the second of four total field goals for Baron on the day. He entered the game looking to surpass John Goss ’06 for the most field goals made in a Colby Football season. Against Tufts, he tied Goss’ school records for most field goals in a game (4) and a single season (9). Colby’s 331 total yards of offense for the game put Baron in position to kick four field goals for the second straight week. With 13 field goals on the year, he not only broke the school record for most in a season, but also surpassed Tufts kicker Willie Holmquist and Williams kicker Joe Mallock for the NESCAC record.
Baron was not the only player to have an impressive day. With 12:13 left in the second, Harrington put together a near-perfect drive. He went 3-4 for 36 yards and also gained 30 yards on the ground. He finished the drive off with a 29-yard touchdown run that gave the Mules a 13-0 lead. Harrington finished the game with 125 passing yards, and was grateful for the opportunity to play in his final game, despite his ACL injury.
“The hardest part about being injured over the past six weeks was knowing that I wasn’t able to be on the field battling with them,” Harrington said. “Around week five, when I brought up to trainers that I was thinking about playing on a torn ACL, they thought I was crazy, but they did everything in their power to help me. I owe so much thanks to the trainers and the coaches for sticking with me and allowing me to step on the field Saturday. No way I would have been able to do that without them.”
Despite the final score, the Polar Bears actually outgained the Mules on offense. Never was that more evident than in the second and third quarters when running backs Nate Richam and Christopher Markisz led two successful drives, narrowing Colby’s led to 13-10.
Midway through the fourth, Hurdle-Price took control of his final game. He broke free for a 34-yard run and followed it up with three more carries for four yards and a touchdown. After a three and out by Bowdoin, Hurdle-Pierce had his spectacular 50-yard touchdown run and the lead was 29-10. Hurdle-Price finished the game with 161 yards rushing and two scores.
On the next possession, safety Don Vivian ’19 erased any hope for a Bowdoin comeback. He intercepted Bowdoin quarterback Tim Drakeley and returned it 29 yards to the Bowdoin 12-yard line. This was just another play in a stellar game for Vivian. He led the team with 14 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, and blocked a crucial field goal in the third quarter to maintain Colby’s two-possession lead. This performance earned him NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week.
“It was great for so many guys to end the season and their careers with a win against Bowdoin,” Hurdle-Price said. “To us, that felt like the Super Bowl. It’s been a special four years playing Colby Football and it would’ve been great to have gotten a few more wins along the way, but still, I wouldn’t trade my experience on this team for anything.”
With the win, Colby finishes the season 3-5, their most successful year since 2013. Though 14 seniors on the team are graduating this year, multiple upperclassmen injuries this season allowed younger players to gain valuable experience. If they continue to improve like they did this season, next year Colby Football could experience its first winning season since 2005. Then again, blowout losses against Wesleyan, Amherst, and Tufts suggest the team is still a way off from being fully competitive in the NESCAC. Fans will have to wait until next fall to find out which direction Colby Football is headed.