Football Team Wins NESCAC Championship
Middlebury won its third NESCAC Championship after 52-10 road win at Tufts on Saturday afternoon. Wesleyan and Amherst will share the title with the Panthers, as all three teams finished with identical 7-1 marks. The Panthers won the title outright in '07, sharing it with Amherst and Colby in '00. Quarterback McCallum Foote set a new Middlebury and NESCAC record in the game with seven touchdown passes.
Foote completed 30 of 46 passes for 402 yards and the seven touchdowns. Matthew Minno caught eight passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns, while William Sadik-Khan had three touchdowns among his six receptions for 79 yards. Matt Rea rushed 21 times for 118 yards as the Panthers accumulated 561 yards of total offense and did not punt the ball.
The host Jumbos had taken a 3-0 lead after Foote was intercepted on his second pass of the game by Garrett Ewanouski. The ball was returned 27 yards to the Middlebury nine-yard line. After the Panther defense stiffened, Jumbo Willie Holmquist booted a 20-yarder at 8:59 of the first quarter.
Foote got started by engineering an 11-play, 79-yard touchdown drive to put the Panthers up 7-3 at 5:29 of the first. He completed a 17-yard pass to Grant Luna to convert a third and seven in the middle of the drive. The touchdown came on a 15-yard pass play from Foote to Sadik-Khan.
Sadik-Khan would get another one early in the second quarter. After a Tufts punt from deep in their own territory, Middlebury went 44 yards on six plays to go up 14-3 at 14:35 of the second. Rea had an early 12-yard rush and Foote hit Luna for 16 more before a five-yard scoring pass to Sadik-Khan.
With Jack Doll taking over at quarterback, the Jumbo offense put it together on their next possession as the points continued to pile up in the first half. Doll completed six of seven passes for 56 yards and Zack Trause rushed five times for 30 yards including a one-yard score that pulled Tufts within 14-10 at 8:24 of the second. The drive went 71 yards in 12 plays. A 10-yard Doll to Greg Lanzillo pass converted a third and nine three plays before the touchdown.
Middlebury's response on its next drive was to convert two fourth-down plays and score another touchdown with 5:07 remaining until halftime making it 21-10. Foote passed eight yards to Sadik-Khan converting a fourth and six and then threw 15 yards to Luna on another fourth and six. The score came on a 15-yard Foote completion to Minno.
The Panthers were able to add on two more scores before intermission. Taking over at their own 16 after a Jumbo punt, Foote eventually rifled a pass to Minno over the middle for a 58-yard Panther touchdown at 3:13.
The Jumbos drove down the field on their ensuing possession, but a would-be touchdown pass was dropped in the end zone before Andrew McGrath intercepted a pass for Middlebury. The Panthers turned that into seven more as Foote took them 75 yards in 1:20, finding Minno from two yards out as time expired for a 35-10 halftime lead.
Foote was 19 of 31 for 267 yards and five touchdowns in the first two quarters. Minno made four first-half catches for 96 yards with the three touchdowns. Rea gained 98 yards on 13 carries as Middlebury totaled 365 yards at the half compared to 172 by Tufts.
The Panthers received the ball to start the second half and added s 24-yard field goal by Michael Dola for a 38-10 margin. That was the sixth of eight straight drives on which they would score points.
On their first series of the second half, Tufts was unable to get a punt off as a fumble was recovered by Middlebury's Matthew Benedict at the Jumbo 14. Two plays later Rea scored on a 14-yard pass from Foote for a 45-10 Panther advantage at 8:36 of the third.
The final touchdown came at 1:25 of the third on a 36-yard pass from Foote to Sadik-Khan, who finished the season with 12 touchdowns after his trio today.
Foote's seven touchdown passes broke the previous record of six held by Donald McKillop '11 vs. Tufts on November 13, 2010. The three-year starter finishes his career with more touchdown passes (77) than any other quarterback in school history. He ranks second to McKillop, a four-year starter, in completions (742), attempts (1,187), yards (8,083) and completion percentage (.625).
Doll returned to the Tufts line-up and completed 20-30 passes for 156 yards, while Alex Snyder was 5-12 for 50 yards. Trause rushed 12 times for 39 yards, caught a team-high six passes for 39 yards and returned three kickoffs for 64 yards.
Middlebury's Nate Leedy led all tacklers with 11 while adding a pass break-up. Tim Patricia had nine tackles and a break-up, while Addison Pierce recorded eight stops with two break-ups.
Ewanouski had a Tufts-high 10 tackles to go with his interception. Matt McCormack finished with nine stops. One of 11 seniors honored before the game, Sean Harrington also had an interception for the Jumbos (0-8).
The 52 points in the game are the most since the Panthers hung 55 on Hamilton in '03.