Middlebury, Vt. - Sophomore WR A.J. Jones (Freetown, Sierra Leone) had five catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and the visiting Trinity College Bantams returned two first-quarter interceptions for touchdowns en route to a 42-7 victory over the Middlebury College Panthers in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Youngman/Alumni Field. The Bantams, ranked No. 2 in New England, improve to 6-0 with their 12th consecutive win and their first triumph at Middlebury since 2005, keeping pace with next Saturday's opponent, Amherst, in first place in the NESCAC. The Panthers drop to 2-4 with their first loss in three games.
"We tried to stress all week at practice that the last two games we played here were with different players on both sides, but the seniors still had some extra motivation after suffering our first loss of the year here as sophomores," said Trinity Head Coach Jeff Devanney. "Our seniors are so competitive that they would play their hearts out even if we played this game in a field on the side of the road, and our younger guys are sound football players that have been unfazed by pressure situations."
Middlebury drove to the Trinity 38-yard line on the game's opening possession, taking advantage of a roughing the kicker penalty on the Bantams on a punt, but Trinity sophomore LB Stephen Goniprow (Barrington, R.I.) picked off Middlebury junior QB Andy Dittrich in the left flat and outsprinted the Middlebury offense 71 yards for a touchdown. A 32-yard kick-off return by Matt Rea gave Middlebury the ball at the Trinity 48-yard line on its ensuing possession. Quarterback Andy Dittrich hit Zach Driscoll and Nick Resor for 11 yards apiece, and Trinity committed a pass interference penalty near the goal line before Remi Ashkar scored from one yard out to tie the game at 7-7.
The following drive saw Trinity go three and out before Dittrich was picked off by Bantam safety Rae Haynes (Hartford, Conn.), who ran 29-yards for a touchdown to give the Bantams a 14-7 lead at the 6:57 mark of the second quarter. After turning Middlebury over on downs from its own 16-yard line, the Bantams came up with a big play on 3rd-and-11 when junior QB Ryan Burgess (Dracut, Mass.) found Jones down the left sideline for a 55-yard pass inside the Panther 10-yard line. On the next play, Trinity sophomore RB Ben Crick (Middlebury, Vt.) ran the ball in around the left tackle for a 21-7 Bantam lead with 6:45 left before the break. Trinity took complete control of the game over the final minutes of the second quarter, as Jones caught a 34-yard scoring pass by sophomore QB Hedley Jennings (Charlotte, N.C.) with 3:25 left and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Burgess in the final minute to lift the visitors to a 35-7 lead at intermission.
Middlebury's Michael Bilodeau recovered a fumble on the opening kick-off of the second half, and the Panthers drove to the Trinity 20-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. Early in the fourth quarter, a Panther fumble on a punt was recovered by Trinity senior LB Mark Snyder (Rockaway, N.J.) at the Middlebury 21-yard line. The Bantams scored the only points on the second half on the next play, as junior Andrew Grombala (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored on a double reverse from 21 yards out.
Trinity outgained Middlebury, 348-194, including a 197-50 edge on the ground, while the Bantam defense held the Panthers to 4-for-20 on third and fourth down conversions. Sophomore RB Dante Astheimer (Pottstown, Pa.) had 64 rushing yards on 15 carries, and classmate Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) added 16 rushes for 55 yards, while Burgess completed 5 of 16 passes for 117 yards. Defensively, Snyder finished with 10 tackles to go with his fumble recovery, and senior co-captain ILB Walter Fallas (Everett, Mass.) added eight stops.
Dittrich, playing in place of MaCallom Foote who sat out the game with an injury, went 18 of 41 for 144 yards with two interceptions in his first career start. Ashkar finished with 38 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Driscoll (46 yds.) and Resor (39 yds.) each caught five passes. Bilodeau and Zachary Faber and each had 10 tackles, while Daniel Kenerson added nine hits.