Middlebury football tops Trinity, improves to 3-0

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College football team defeated visiting Trinity on Saturday, 32-27, to remain undefeated at 3-0 and stay in a three-way tie for first place in NESCAC with Amherst and Wesleyan.

The Panthers will visit Amherst at 2 p.m. this Saturday as they seek to remain atop the league standings.

This past Saturday’s game saw two lead changes and a big crowd of 2,850.

Panther Carter Massengill kicked a 33-yard field goal to give Middlebury a 3-0 lead on its first possession. The Panthers went up 10-0 at 10:34 of the second quarter on a three-yard run by quarterback Will Jernigan. The drive was set up by a 45-yard punt return by Wyllis McKissick. The lead grew to 12-0 when a bad snap on a punt led to a Panther safety.

Trinity battled back to lead 14-12 at the half after a pair of touchdowns on four-and-one-yard runs by quarterback Seamus Lambert capped Bantam drives.

The Panther defense restored the team’s lead on Trinity’s first possession of the second half, when Kevin Hartley returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.

Middlebury increased its lead to 22-14 after a 23-yard field goal by Massengill. The was preceded by a short drive set up by another poor snap on a Trinity punt.

The Bantams made it a 22-20 game when Draquan Jones capped a long drive with a 16-yard rush at 1:25 of the third quarter. The Panthers stopped a potentially game-tying two-point conversion.

On the ensuing possession, Middlebury drove to set up Massengill’s third field goal of the contest, this one from 33 yards out to put his team up 25-20 at 12:21 of the fourth quarter.

The Panthers gained breathing room with 5:57 to go, when Jernigan lofted a 20-yard pass over the top to Aidan Power for a touchdown to make it 32-20. The score was set up by a 62-yard connection from Jernigan to Maxwell Rye.

Trinity then drove to the Panther 13-yard line on its next possession, but Zander Bailey picked off a pass at the 16 to end the scoring threat with 3:47 remaining.

After the Bantam defense held, Colin Beaulieu returned a punt 32 yards to the Middlebury 16 with 1:33 remaining. Three plays later, Jones scored from three yards out, making it 32-27.

The Bantams attempted an onside kick, but Power recovered the ball to seal the Panther victory.

For the Panthers Alex Maldjian carried the ball 24 times for 90 yards to lead all rushers. Jernigan completed 13 of 29 passes for 197 yards and gained 44 yards on the ground on a dozen carries. Rye finished with three catches for 82 yards.

Defensively Jack Pistorius finished with 10 tackles and a sack, Coltrane Marcus also made 10 stops, while Alex Norton made seven tackles, three for lost yardage, including a pair of sacks. Michael Carr, Bailey, Hartley and Finn Muldoon each had interceptions for the Panthers.

Trinity outgained the Panthers, 422-332, but the Panther defense recorded five sacks and forced four turnovers, while the Bantams also were penalized 11 times for 107 yards.

Lambert completed 20 of 32 passes for 333 yards and gained 80 yards on 25 carries with two scores. Jones rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Jonathan Girard led all receivers with 103 yards on six catches.

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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