Middlebury College football preserves title hopes
CLINTON, N.Y. — The Middlebury College football team thumped host Hamilton on Saturday, 45-10, keeping its hopes alive for a share of the NESCAC title.
The 6-1 Panthers are hosting Tufts, also 6-1, this coming Saturday, while first-place Trinity (7-0) must travel to meet Wesleyan (6-1). A Panther win and a Trinity loss would create a three-way tie for the championship.
Middlebury will probably have its hands full on Saturday: Tufts has lost only at Trinity, 36-28, while Wesleyan has won six straight by wide margins since falling at Tufts in its opener, 17-14. The Panthers’ only setback came at Trinity, 49-13.
Hamilton (2-5) did not pose a challenge, however: Middlebury outgained Hamilton, 468-199 yards. Middlebury scored on its opening drive when quarterback Jared Lebowitz found James Burke for a 13-yard scoring strike. The Panthers settled for a 20-yard field goal from Carter Massengill on their next drive, taking a 10-0 lead at 4:46 of the first quarter.
The Continentals got on the board with 7:19 remaining in the half, when Robert Morris booted a 40-yard field goal.
Middlebury scored after a Bobby Ritter interception late in the half. The Panthers moved 74 yards in 1:20, capped by a two-yard keeper from Lebowitz for a 17-3 lead heading into the halftime break. Lebowitz connected with Jimmy Martinez (17 and 11 yards), Burke (18 yards) and Conrado Banky (24 yards) on the drive.
Middlebury took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 75 yards on eight plays to make it 24-3. A 32-yard connection with Martinez helped set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lebowitz to Banky.
The teams exchanged four punts before Wesley Becton picked off a pass to Middlebury on the Hamilton 48. Three plays later, Lebowitz connected with Banky from 10 yards out to make it 31-3 at 4:31 of the third quarter.
The duo connected again on Middlebury’s next drive, this time from 30 yards out as the Panthers took a 38-3 lead.
Middlebury scored its final touchdown of the game with 6:39 left, when Matt Cardew scored on a two-yard rush. The short drive was set up when Ritter recovered a fumbled punt at the Hamilton six.
The Continentals closed the scoring on a five-yard touchdown pass from Cole Freeman to Joe Schmidt.
Lebowitz finished 34 for 51 for 412 yards with one interception. Burke caught a career- and game-high 10 passes for 96 yards, while Banky finished with nine catches for 154 yards. Martinez hauled in six passes for a career-high 88 yards.
The Middlebury defense saw 23 players record tackles and forced six turnovers on the afternoon. Robert Wood led the effort with six tackles and two sacks to go along with a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Kevin Hopsicker, Kevin Maxwell and Martin Williams each added four stops.
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