Middlebury football edges Ephs, 17-13

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College football team opened its season this past Saturday with a dramatic last-minute victory over visiting Williams, 17-13. The Panthers will visit Bates this Saturday. 

Late in Saturday’s fourth quarter, the Panther defense held on a Williams drive that began at the Middlebury 44. A short Eph punt put the Panthers on their own 22 with 2:31 remaining. 

Panther quarterback Will Jernigan completed two quick passes to Aidan Power and then ran 15 yards to the Williams 40-yard line. Jernigan found Maxim Bochman for a dozen yards before hitting Maxwell Rye, who made a great catch on the Williams two-yard line for a 26-yard gain. One play later, Jernigan faked a handoff and bolted up the middle from five yards out to give Middlebury the victory with 29.6 seconds to go. 

Middlebury took a 3-0 lead on a 26-yard Carter Massengill field goal at 13:59 of the second quarter.

The Panthers made it 10-0 on their next possession, going 75 yards on 10 plays. Jernigan connected with Rye twice on the drive, for 23 yards on one play and for 14 yards on a third-and-four play. The touchdown came on a flat pass to linebacker Wyllis McKissick, who had lined up in the offensive backfield and scampered 18 yards for the score. The linebacker had picked off a pass earlier in the game.

Williams answered on its ensuing drive by going 55 yards on just three plays, the last of which was a 47-yard TD pass from quarterback Bobby Maimaron to Frank Stola. A missed extra point left the score 10-6 at the break.

The Ephs took a 13-10 lead on their opening possession of the second half. The 70-yard drive was capped by another connection from Maimaron to Stola, this one from 30 yards out. 

Jernigan finished the day 16-33 for 170 yards and rushing for 82 yards on 21 carries. Alex Maldjian gained 49 yards on the ground on 21 carries, while tight end Frank Cosolito caught five passes for 40 yards. Rye finished with 65 yards on four receptions. Pete Huggins paced the defense with 13 tackles, five for lost yardage, to go along with a pair of sacks. Martin Williams made eight tackles, while Jack Pistorius had seven stops.

Maimaron threw for 205 yards on 12 for 21 passing for Williams and also rushed for a team-high 39 yards. Stola led all receivers with six catches for 151 yards.  

Middlebury has now won seven of the last eight meetings between the schools and has claimed five of its last six season openers.

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