Panther football tops Wesleyan in opener
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — The Middlebury College football team opened its season on this past Saturday by rallying for a 28-25 road win over Wesleyan. The Panthers will look to move to 2-0 when they host Colby on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Against the Cardinals, Panther quarterback Matt Milano completed 22 of 34 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers came back from a 19-7 third-quarter deficit. Milano was named the NESCAC offensive player of the week. The Panthers blocked one Wesleyan extra point and stopped a two-point conversion, and the Cardinals also missed an extra point.
Middlebury scored on its opening drive of the season, going 78 yards on six plays in just 1:39. A 50-yard connection from Milano to Ryan Rizzo, who caught five passes for 126 yards, set up a six-yard keeper for Milano for the 7-0 lead.
Wesleyan got on the board at 9:05 of the second quarter on a one-yard rush from Jaylen Berry after a 54-yard drive. The extra point was blocked.
The Cardinals took the lead when Devon Carrillo scored on a five-yard rush to make it 13-7 at the half. Cardinal QB Gernald Hawkins and Eric Meyreles connected for a 79-yard scoring strike to open the second half, giving Wesleyan a 19-7 lead after a missed extra point.
Middlebury answered by covering 65 yards on five plays to cut the advantage to 19-14. Milano found tight end Trevor Miletich for 24 yards before the duo connected from 20 yards out for the touchdown.
Following a Wesleyan punt, the Panthers took a 21-19 lead at 4:21 of the third when Milano and Miletich struck again, this time from nine yards out. On the march, Milano hit Rizzo for 16 and 20 yards and Matthew Minno for 19.
Wesleyan regained the advantage at 5:40 of the fourth quarter when Mark Piccirillo scored on a four-yard rush. But the Panthers stopped the two-point conversion, and it was 25-21.
Middlebury scored 33 seconds later with a three-play, 75-yard drive. Milano connected with Conrado Banky for 15 yards, and after a running play, Milano found Diego Meritus on a swing pass out of the backfield for a 43-yard score, giving the Panthers the lead for good.
Panther Wesley Becton sealed the win on the final Cardinal possession when he picked off a pass on 4th-and-13 from the Wesleyan 40.
Wesleyan outgained Middlebury, 459-347 yards, including a 296-10 advantage on the ground. The Panther passing game bettered its opponent by a 337-163 margin. The Cardinals were whistled for 143 yards in penalties, but held a 39:55 to 20:05 edge in time of possession.
Miletich, Minno (50 yards), Ian Riley (46 yards) and Meritus (43 yards) each caught four passes for Middlebury. Tim Patricia led the Middlebury defense with 12 tackles and an interception; Dan Pierce made 11 stops, including a sack; and Addison Pierce finished with 10 tackles. Kyle Ashley added six tackles, including 1.5 sacks.
Hawkins connected on eight of 20 passes for 154 yards for the Cardinals. Berry led all rushers with 117 yards on 17 carries.
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