Panther football slips past Hamilton, 21-16

MIDDLEBURY — With the help of four interceptions, the Middlebury College football team on Saturday improved to 5-2 with a 21-16 win over visiting Hamilton (1-6) in the Panthers’ final 2015 home game. Middlebury concludes its season on this Saturday at Tufts.
Middlebury scored on its third play from scrimmage, when quarterback Matt Milano hit Matthew Minno over the middle before the wide receiver broke a pair of tackles and raced downfield for a 70-yard touchdown reception to make it 6-0.
Cornerback Nate Leedy ended Hamilton’s next drive by picking off a pass at the Middlebury seven after a Continental receiver had fallen down, but on the Continentals’ next possession they moved 77 yards in 16 plays to make it 7-6. LaShawn Ware gained 47 yards on six carries on the march before Jason Nastovski scored from one-yard out at 11:45 left of the second quarter.
Hamilton added to its lead on its next possession, when Cole Freeman connected for 78 yards with Charles Ensley on a flea flicker to make it 14-6.
The Panthers drove to the Hamilton 10 later in the quarter, but Jimmy Giattino picked off Milano on the two, ending the drive.
The Middlebury defense held, and the Panthers took over at the Hamilton 26 after a short punt. Two plays later, Milano found Minno on a quick out for a 10-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion tied the game at 14-14 with 17 seconds left in the first half.
Middlebury took the lead on its first possession of the second half, driving 53 yards on seven plays. Milano and Minno hooked up for the third time, this one coming for 20 yards out to put the Panthers up 21-14 at 11:33 of the third quarter.
Leedy picked of his second pass of the game on Hamilton’s next possession, this time in the end zone. Middlebury’s Kevin Hopsicker intercepted a pass later in the quarter, returning it 29 yards to the Hamilton eight, but Hamilton returned the favor when Colby Jones picked off Jared Lebowitz in the end zone.
Hamilton chipped into the lead at 7:48 of the fourth quarter, when Sean Tolton blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety.
Two series later, Hamilton began a drive on its own 27, trailing 21-16 with 2:26 remaining and three timeouts. Matthew Daniel ended the threat on the fourth play of the drive when he picked off a pass at the Hamilton 45 to seal the win.
Minno caught six passes for 171 yards. Milano finished 14 of 29 for 273 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Diego Meritus gained 75 yards on the ground on 22 carries. Hopsicker finished with a game-high 10 tackles to go along with his interception, while Wesley Becton, Tim Patricia and Addison Pierce each had eight stops. The Panther defense broke up six passes on the afternoon and forced 10 plays for lost yardage.
Freeman finished 13 for 31 for 196 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions. Ware gained 77 yards on 21 carries. 

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