Panther football nets third in the league

MIDDLEBURY — Visiting Tufts held off a comeback by the Middlebury College football team on Saturday, prevailing by 48-35 in the season’s final game for both teams.
The Jumbos (7-1) clinched sole possession of second place in NESCAC behind 8-0 Trinity, while the 6-2 Panthers finished tied for third with Wesleyan. With its 6-2 season, Middlebury is now 31-9 over the past five years.
At the Panthers’ Alumni Stadium on Saturday Middlebury nearly rallied from a 41-7 deficit as the two teams combined for almost 1,000 yards of total offense.
Tufts scored on its opening drive when Chance Brady found the end zone on a one-yard rush. Middlebury tied the game on a 31-yard scoring strike from quarterback Jared Lebowitz to tight end Frank Cosolito with 12:47 remaining in the second. Lebowitz passed to James Burke for 20 and 23 yards on the drive and hit Diego Meritus for 24 yards.
Tufts responded with five straight scores before halftime, starting with Willie Holmquist field goals from 41 and 37 yards out.
After a short Panther punt, Brady caught a 24-yard pass from quarterback Ryan McDonald to make it 20-7 at 5:19.
After a Middlebury three-and-out, the Jumbos scored less than a minute later on their first play from scrimmage when McDonald found Brady on a swing pass that turned into a 49-yard scoring strike.
After another defensive hold, Tufts drove 51 yards, scoring on a McDonald 30-yard run to make it 34-7 at halftime.
Tufts recovering a Panther fumble on the second-half kickoff before taking a 41-7 lead on a seven-yard rush from Brady.
Middlebury scored on four of its next five drives. The first came when Lebowitz found Conrado Banky over the middle for a 26-yard touchdown. The margin closed to 41-21 after an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lebowitz to Meritus.
Tufts then scored on an 18-yard Brady rush to make it 48-21 with 3:54 left in the third quarter.
A drive later, Middlebury found the end zone again, as Lebowitz connected with Cosolito for a 60-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-two play.
After a defensive hold, Lebowitz scored from 34 yards out on a read option play to make it at 48-35 with 7:46 to play.
MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE QUARTERBACK Jared Lebowitz rushed for 18 yards and passed for 411 yards in the Panthers’ 48-35 loss to Tufts Saturday. 
Independent Photo/Trent Campbell
The Panther defense held the rest of the way, but Middlebury twice turned the ball over on downs in Tufts territory. First, the Panthers drove to the Tufts 39. On fourth-and-three play, Lebowitz was sacked with 4:25 remaining. The Panthers had one last chance, taking over on their 17 with 2:43 to go and moving to the Tufts 18, but an incompletion on fourth-and-two ended their last opportunity.
Lebowitz finished the game 28-for-54 for 411 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. He ended the year second all-time on Middlebury’s single-season list with 29 touchdown passes and fifth with 2,580 yards passing.
Cosolito caught five passes for a career-high 125 yards. Banky finished with seven receptions for 100 yards, while Burke (83 yards) and Meritus (52 yards) each caught six passes. Meritus also added 54 yards of rushing on 16 carries. Banky’s 11 touchdown receptions in 2016 place him in a second-place tie on Middlebury’s single-season list, while his 925 yards are third.
John Jackson, Clay Hunt and Wesley Becton each made a dozen stops for the Panther defense. Jackson earned 1.5 sacks in the game to give him 7.5 on the season, tying him for fifth on the school’s all-time single-season list.
For Tufts Brady rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns and caught two scoring strikes for 73 yards. He became Tufts’ first 1,000-yard rusher (1,099) since 2001. McDonald completed 10 of 16 passes for 145 yards while rushing for 161 yards.  

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