November 3, 2009

McKillop, Panthers slay the giant

Middlebury quarterback Donald McKillop and his teammates did something Saturday that nobody has been able to do in a long time.

The Maine Maritime Mariners did something nobody has ever done. At least not in Division III. The Mariners amassed 730 rushing yards in a 76-49 victory over Coast Guard. It set the record for rushing yards in a game for D-III and is higher than the D-II and D-I FCS record. Only the D-I FBS record is higher, as the Oklahoma Sooners piled up 768 one day in 1988.

The combined point total of 125 is a New England Football Conference record.

McKillop is only a junior, yet he will likely own about every school quarterback record before the year is done.

He has had some great moments since coming to the East Coast from Poway, Calif. One of the best came two years ago as a freshman when he engineered a victory over Tufts in the season finale to give the Panthers a 7-1 record and the outright championship of the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

"Seeing the seniors' faces that day and enjoying the moment with our team was a great thing," McKillop said.

But Saturday provided a moment that will take its place right beside that one. The Panthers ended Trinity's 15-game winning streak with a 31-24 victory as McKillop went 35-of-50 for 342 yards and two touchdowns.

He now holds the Middlebury single-season records for passing attempts (317), completions (204) and yards (2,131).

It was lightning striking twice at Middlebury's Youngman Stadium. The last time that Trinity had lost a game was at that venue in 2007.


Donald McKillop has completed 64 percent of his passes for Middlebury.
Middlebury athletics photo by Trent Campbell

How does a quarterback from California wind up at Middlebury? McKillop attended a number of football camps where he kept running into Middlebury assistant coach Steve Monniger. He began researching the school along with many others.

"I visited about 35 schools before my senior year," he said. "I was looking for a mix of academics and athletics. Some were Ivy League schools andthere were schools in all different divisions.

"The biggest thing was the people at Middlebury. I did an overnight stay and saw the environment."

He had some interest from Division I schools who wanted him to walk on. But he loves baseball as much as football and the two-sport possibilities offered in Division III was an important factor.

"The two-sport thing was huge. I really wanted to keep playing baseball," McKillop said.

Last spring, he batted .435 with four homers and knocked in 32 runs in 30 games to earn second team All-NESCAC honors as a third baseman.

He weighs in on the NESCAC debate about football teams not being eligible for playoffs, by saying he is okay with that. But like most of the league's coaches he would like one more game. The NESCAC plays only eight.

"It's pretty ridiculous we don't have a ninth game," McKillop said.

"Playoffs are not critical. We model ourselves after the Ivy League. We're different than the rest of D3.

"It would be cool to see how we measure up with other teams, but playoffs aren't critical."

The move from the West Coastwas a bit of an adjustment, but a glance at the statistics show it is one he has made with aplomb.

"I played one rain game in four years of high school and that was on turf," McKillop said. "The cold is the biggest thing. I played a lot of beach ball in California and that helps me handle a wet ball. The important thing when it's wet is to throw with your whole body and not just your arm."

"The thing about him is that he was very good when he got here," Middlebury coach Bob Ritter said. "It was amazing how quickly he picked up the offense and understood it."

The question that Ritter and his staff had was whether or not he would progress.

"To his credit and because of his competitive spirit, he has gotten better every year," Ritter said.

He became so thoroughly immersed in the offense, the coaches gave him complete freedom to call and change plays.

"Some of his most successful drives are when we are in the two-minute mode," Ritter said.

McKillop has no regrets about coming to the cold-weather NESCAC. He embraces every day as a political science major and playing in a wide-open offense built around him.

"We are having tons of fun. It's an offense that's fun to play in. You don't play Division III football unless you absolutely love playing it, he said."

He gives his teammates the accolades for all if his records and he seems to set them every week.

"A lot of guys have contributed to them," McKillop said.

McKillop is distantly related to San Francisco 49ers rookie linebacker Scott McKillop. He has never met him.

"I want to connect with him someday," the Middlebury QB said.

He said his favorite NFL quarterback is Peyton Manning.

"I like his ridiculous work ethic and I think he is the smartest player in the game,' McKillop said. "I really admire that."

Sounds an awful lot like Bob Ritter talking about Donald McKillop.

Records, records everywhere

Coast Guard established records of its own in that 76-49 loss to Maine Maritime. John Resch got one of them, setting a Coast Guard record off the bench by throwing for 469 yards and six touchdowns.

Coast Guard's Sam England caught 10 passes, also a program record, and became the all-time leader at the New London, Conn., school with 157 career receptions.

Maine Maritime had 297 yards rushing in the first quarter alone. MMA quarterback Tyler Angell had 186 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and also threw for a score. Fullback Jim Bower added 153 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries and Todd Murphy added 106 yards rushing on just nine carries.

It all added up to a 7-1 record (5-1 in the NEFC's Bogan Division) for Maine Maritime and the Mariners can now win a second straight Bogan title with a win at Fitchburg State.

Trophy time in Maine

Colby got a leg up on the CBB Trophy (Colby, Bates and Bowdoin) by beating Bates 34-24 in the first CBB game. Colby's Chris Copeland had 11 tackles and a big interception in the end zone. Colby and Bates have now met 116 times with Colby holding a 63-46-7 advantage. There is another CBB game this week with Bates hosting Bowdoin.

Jeffs take over top spot

The Amherst Lord Jeffs are alone in first place in the NESCAC as the result of Trinity's loss. Amherst is 6-0 for the first time since 2001 after beating Tufts 13-3. Matt Rawson kicked two field goals and Brandon Bullock caught a TD pass.

Williams is also streaking in the NESCAC. The Ephs won their fourth in a row and are 5-1 after whipping Hamilton 42-0. Nick Caro had three touchdown receptions in the first quarter.

Shootout at Bowdoin

Bowdoin quarterback Oliver Kell went 35-of-56 for 472 yards and three touchdowns and it still wasn't enough as Wesleyan won 43-39. Wesleyan's Blake DuBois was the other gunslinger, going 29-of-51 for 320 yards and three touchdowns.

Endicott's sack pack

Endicott had eight sacks in cruising past UMass-Dartmouth 34-0.
Norwich University also didit with defense in its important 15-3 victory over SUNY-Maritime in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. The Cadets carved out the win with two goal-line stands and six takeaways.

Norwich earns top seed

The Cadets clinched the No. 1 seed in the ECFC Championship Game on Nov. 14. They are 6-3 and 5-0 in the conference. It marks the first time since 1984 that the Cadets have won six consecutive games.
SUNY-Maritime can earn a return trip to Norwich by beating Gallaudet this week in its regular-season finale.

New standard at Gallaudet

Gallaudet set a program record with 521 yards of total offense in a 56-7 victory over Anna Maria. Phillip Hayes led the way by rushing for 214 yards and three touchdowns.

Marino milestone

Westfield State coach Steve Marine won his 100th game as David Benoit caught two TD passes in a 32-16 win over Fitchburg State.

Castleton gets watershed win

Castleton State's two wins coming into the game against Becker were against Anna Maria, a first-year program like Castleton.

Castleton coach Rich Alercio said during the week it was a goal for the Spartans to "get a win against a program that has been playing football longer than we have."

Becker has been playing football since 2005.

Castleton did it on the road, beating Becker 49-44. Anthony Simms caught the winning touchdown pass. Simms is a freshman who graduated from Black River High School, a school that does not have a football team.

Castleton's Tyler Carpenter ran for 298 yards and three touchdowns.

Home, sweet homecoming

The Bridgewater State Bears delighted a homecoming crowd of more than 2,500 by whipping Worcester State 41-7 as Justin Fuller rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns.

Western New England College got its fourth straight win, edging Salve Regina 17-14.

And Plymouth State bounced back from its lone league loss at Curry by trimming MIT 24-7 as freshman Ty Long rushed for 127 yards and a score.

Leach sets a standard for Rams

David Leach ran for 171 yards and a touchdown and is now the Framingham State record holder with 2,260 yards rushing. The junior did it in just two seasons. Leach reached the mark in a 20-13 win over Mass. Maritime.

Ida stays in the hunt

Mount Ida remained in the hunt for the spot opposite Norwich in the ECFC Championship game by beating Husson 29-28.

Mount Ida does not control its destiny, however. SUNY-Maritime is in the title game if it can defeat Gallaudet.

The Mustangs defeated Husson when Johrone Bunch ran in for the two-point conversion with 3:52 remaining. The two-point conversion has been a curse for Husson. They lost 20-19 to Norwich when the Cadets stopped Julius Williams on his run for the two-point try.

Bunch now has Ida's single-season rushing mark with 1,405 yards. He also has the single-season school record for rushing touchdowns with 12.

The big games

No doubt about the big one in the NESCAC. It's 5-1 Trinity at 6-0 Amherst.

The place to be in the ECFC is Castleton's Spartan Stadium where Norwich pays a visit in the first clash for the Maple Sap Bucket. This game figures to draw 5,000 fans and promises to be the beginning of a Vermont tradition, replacing the storied series between Middlebury and Norwich which ceased in 1991.

John Castle played for Middlebury in that 1991 game and he has been invited to Spartan Stadium by Castleton State president David Wolk for the Maple Sap Bucket game.

In other games with revered traditions, Bridgewater State visits Mass. Maritime in the Cranberry Bowl, Bates hosts Bowdoin in a CBB Game and Williams travels to Wesleyan in a Little Three

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter.

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