Panther football earns share of title

MEDFORD, Mass. — The Middlebury College football team thumped host Tufts on Saturday, 52-10, and by doing so earned a share of the NESCAC championship.
The Panthers finished in a three-way tie with Amherst and Wesleyan for the title, all with 7-1 records. Amherst defeated Williams on Saturday, while Wesleyan’s chances for an outright championship fell by the wayside with a one-sided loss at Trinity.
The championship is the Panthers’ third. They won it outright in 2007 and shared it with Amherst and Colby in 2000.
On Saturday vs. Tufts, Panther quarterback McCallum Foote set a new Middlebury and NESCAC record with seven touchdown passes. Foote completed 30 of 46 passes for 402 yards.
Matthew Minno caught eight passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns, while William Sadik-Khan had three touchdowns among his six receptions for 79 yards. Matt Rea rushed 21 times for 118 yards as the Panthers accumulated 561 yards of total offense and did not punt the ball.
The host Jumbos took a 3-0 lead after Foote was intercepted on his second pass of the game by Garrett Ewanouski, who returned it 27 yards to the Middlebury nine. After the Panther defense stiffened, Jumbo Willie Holmquist booted a 20-yarder at 8:59 of the first quarter.
Foote then engineered an 11-play, 79-yard drive to put the Panthers up 7-3 at 5:29 of the first. He completed a 17-yard pass to Grant Luna to convert a third and seven in the middle of the drive. The touchdown came on a 15-yard pass play from Foote to Sadik-Khan.
Sadik-Khan caught another one early in the second quarter. After a Tufts punt from deep in its own territory, Middlebury went 44 yards on six plays to go up 14-3 at 14:35 of the second. Rea had an early 12-yard rush and Foote hit Luna for 16 more before a five-yard scoring pass to Sadik-Khan.
With Jack Doll taking over at quarterback, the Jumbo offense moved 71 yards in 12 plays to a score. Doll completed six of seven passes for 56 yards and Zack Trause rushed five times for 30 yards including a one-yard score that pulled Tufts within 14-10 at 8:24 of the second.
Middlebury’s response on its next drive was to convert two fourth-down plays and score another touchdown 5:07 before halftime to make it 21-10. Foote passed eight yards to Sadik-Khan converting a fourth and six and then threw 15 yards to Luna on another fourth and six. The score came on a 15-yard Foote completion to Minno.
The Panthers then tacked on two more scores before intermission. After taking over at the Panther 16, Foote rifled a pass to Minno over the middle for a 58-yard Panther touchdown at 3:13.
The Jumbos drove down the field on their ensuing possession, but a would-be touchdown pass was dropped in the end zone before Andrew McGrath intercepted a pass for Middlebury. The Panthers turned that into seven more as Foote took them 75 yards in 1:20, finding Minno from two yards out as time expired for a 35-10 halftime lead. Middlebury totaled 365 yards at the half compared to 172 by Tufts.
The Panthers received the ball to start the second half and added a 24-yard field goal by Michael Dola for a 38-10 margin.
On their first series of the second half, Tufts fumbled a punt and it was recovered by Middlebury’s Matthew Benedict at the Jumbo 14. Two plays later Rea scored on a 14-yard pass from Foote for a 45-10 Panther advantage at 8:36 of the third.
The final touchdown came at 1:25 of the third on a 36-yard pass from Foote to Sadik-Khan, who finished the season with 12 touchdowns after his trio on Saturday.
The Panthers scored on eight straight drives, and their 52 points are the most in a game since the Panthers hung 55 on Hamilton in ’03.
Foote’s seven touchdown passes broke the previous record of six held by 2011 graduate Donald McKillop vs. Tufts on Nov. 13, 2010. The three-year starter finished his career with more touchdown passes (77) than any other quarterback in school history. He ranks second to McKillop, a four-year starter, in completions (742), attempts (1,187), yards (8,083) and completion percentage (.625).
Tufts QB Doll completed 20-30 passes for 156 yards, while Alex Snyder was 5-12 for 50 yards.
Middlebury’s Nate Leedy led all tacklers with 11 while adding a pass break-up. Tim Patricia had nine tackles and a break-up, while Addison Pierce recorded eight stops with two break-ups.

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