Middlebury scored on its first three possessions of the fourth quarter, pulling away from Colby on its way to a 27-10 victory in the team's home opener. The Panthers have now won 11 of their last 12 games as well as their last six home contests. Middlebury improves to 2-0 on the season and will visit Amherst next Saturday, while the Mules fall to 1-1 and will visit Wesleyan next week.
The Panthers scored on their first drive of the game, as quarterback McCallum Foote hit receiver Matthew Minno for 37 yards down the right sideline on their first play of the game. Three plays later, Michael Dola connected from 33 yards out to give his team a 3-0 advantage.
Middlebury made it a 10-0 game on its next possession, driving 73 yards on 10 plays. Foote found four different receivers on the drive, hooking up with tight end William Sadik-Kahn for a 21-yard scoring strike.
Colby got on the board with a 14-play, 90-yard drive that took 7:02 off the clock. Quarterback Justin Ciero completed 6-7 passes on the drive, finding Luke Duncklee from seven yards out to cut the Panther lead to 10-7 at the 11:31 mark of the second quarter.
Middlebury ran 16 plays on its next possession, advancing to the Colby 18 before turning the ball over on downs.
Colby tied the game with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter on a 27-yard field goal from Louw Scheepers. The 75-yard drive saw Ciero connect with Jason Buco for 19 yards and Duncklee for 14.
Following the kick-off, Middlebury drove to the Colby one, before turning the ball over on downs on a dropped pass in the end zone on a fourth and one play. Foote connected with Joseph Zelkowitz three times on the drive for 47 yards.
Colby went three and out on its ensuing drive, but the Panthers could not score despite taking over on the Colby 42.
With the game tied at 10-10 early in the fourth quarter, Middlebury linebacker Matthew Crimmins picked off a pass at the Colby 15, returning it to pay dirt to give his team a 17-10 advantage.
Colby missed a 38-yard field goal attempt on its next possession, with Middlebury taking over at its own 20. Following a short rush, Foote connected over the middle with Minno for 15 yards before the sophomore pulled away from the pack and ran another 62 on his own for a 77-yard scoring strike.
The Middlebury defense held Colby to three and out, before Dola put the game out of reach with a 27-yard field goal to put his team up 27-10 with 3:37 remaining.
Middlebury outgained Colby 407-279 on the afternoon with a majority of the remaining team statistics relatively even. Foote finished the day 30-46 for 349 yards with a pair of touchdowns, while Matt Rea gained 39 yards on the ground. Minno caught five passes for 141 yards with a touchdown, while Sadik-Khan finished with seven receptions for 81 yards with a scoring strike. Zelkowitz caught six passes for 52 yards, while Brendan Rankowitz had five receptions for 37 yards. Overall, Foote connected three or more times with six different receivers. Defensively, rookie Nate Leedy led the team with 10 tackles, including two for lost yardage. Jake Clapp had six stops with a sack, while Tim Patricia also made six tackles and earned a sack.
Ciero finished the afternoon 23-38 for 203 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Mules, while rushing for a team-high 50 yards. Duncklee and Ryder Arsenault each caught five passes, with Duncklee gaining 24 yards with a touchdown. Henry Nelson led all tacklers with a game-high 11, to go along with two tackles for lost yardage. The Mules broke-up seven passes on the defensive side of the ball.