November 3, 2008

Middlebury sophomore Anthony Kuchan (Wauwatosa, Wis.) booted a 33-yarder with 11 seconds left to give the Panthers their first lead of the game as they came away with the 31-28 victory at Hamilton. The win is the 13th straight over the Continentals, as the Panthers take a 21-8 lead in the 29th meeting of the "Rocking Chair Classic".

The Panthers were playing without Donald McKillop (Poway, Calif.), who was out with a shoulder injury. The sophomore quarterback leads the NESCAC in passing yardage/game and total offense, while already setting Middlebury single-season records for most completions (171), most yards (1,940) and highest percentage (.673), through just six games in '08.

Middlebury scored 24 second half points en route to the win, as they out-gained Hamilton 390-329 on the day. The teams combined for over 200 yards of penalties, as Middlebury junior quarterback Jack Kramer (Brattleboro, Vt.) went 22 of 44 for 361 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in his starting debut.

A Hamilton pass interference penalty kept Middlebury's opening drive alive, as Kramer hit junior tight end Bill Greven (Winston-Salem, N.C.) on a 43-yard touchdown pass for an early 7-0 lead.

The second quarter began with five straight three-and-out drives, before Hamilton's Brian O'Malley blocked a Matt Wassel punt, giving the Continentals the ball at the Middlebury 18. A pair of seven-yard rushes by Mark Snickenberger set up a five-yard scoring strike from Jordan Eck to Max Foster to tie the game at seven.

Middlebury went three-and-out before Hamilton drove 60 yards on six plays to take a 14-7 lead. Eck accounted for 58 of the 60 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Cray with eight seconds left in the half.

The Panthers got the offense going in the second half with a lengthy 86-yard drive. Junior James Millard (Greenwich, Conn.), caught three passes for 30 yards on the drive, setting up a 33-yard connection from Kramer to senior Andrew Matson (Coventry, R.I.). The extra-point failed, leaving Hamilton with a 14-13 lead at the 6:28 mark of the third quarter.

Hamilton added to its lead on the ensuing drive, as an 18-yard reception from Cray preceded a 15-yard touchdown run from Dylan Isenberg to make it a 21-13 game.

Middlebury tied the game with 6:42 remaining as Kramer and Matson connected for a 65-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 21 after a two-point conversion. The TD catch was the seventh of the season for Matson.

Hamilton answered, as a 45-yard kick-off return by Cray set-up a short scoring drive. The drive was kept alive on a Middlebury penalty as Hamilton missed a field goal attempt. Two plays later, Eck found Benjamin Saccomano for a 13-yard touchdown.

The Panthers drove 59-yards on seven plays, elapsing just 2:03 off the clock as they came back to tie the game at 28. Kramer hit four different receivers on the drive, before finding paydirt himself on a four-yard rush.

The Middlebury defense forced a three-and-out, taking over possession on their own 34 with 1:04 on the clock. Kramer found Matson for 50 yards on the opening play of the drive, moving to the Hamilton 16. Three plays later, Kuchan took the field and converted the game-winning field goal, making him 5-5 on the year.

Matson ended the day with four catches for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Millard and senior Timothy Dillon (Dracut, Mass.) caught six balls apiece. Greven earned four receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown from the tight end spot. Senior Tyler Owens (Essex Junction, Vt.) and junior safety Dan Haluska (Wellesley, Mass.) each had nine tackles to pace the defense, including a forced fumble from Haluska.

Eck went 21 of 47 for 209 yards with three touchdowns for Hamilton, hitting Foster eight times for 48 yards and a touchdown. Snickenberger rushed for 51 yards on the day, followed by Isenberg with 44 yards and a touchdown. John Lawrence recorded a game-high 11 tackles, along with an interception and two pass break-ups.
. Football record: 4-3
. Up next: 11/8 vs. Tufts - 12:30