FOOTBALL TOPPED BY AMHERST
October 12, 2009
The Middlebury College football team racked up over 500 yards of total offense but it wasn't enough, as the Panthers suffered a 20-10 road loss at Amherst. Junior quarterback Donald McKillop (Poway, Calif.) set the new Middlebury career completions record with 418, surpassing Mike Keenan, who completed 397 passes from '02-'04. His 47 completions tied his own school and NESCAC record, as he broke his own school mark with 74 attempts. Unfortunately, McKillop threw four interceptions in the game, which led to just seven Amherst points.
Both starting quarterbacks put in record breaking performances. Alex Vetras completed 35 passes to break the previous Amherst mark of 28, which was set by Paul Foye against Bates in 1986. His 54 pass attempts also set a new school mark, which had previously been set by Lucas Loeffler against Middlebury in 2007. Vetras threw for 234 yards and had a pair of touchdowns without being intercepted.
Amherst's third drive of the game resulted in the first points of the afternoon. Beginning on their own 46-yard line, the Jeffs used a pair of 14-yard completions from Vetras to Sean Legister and a 10-yard completion to Brian Murphy to march inside the Middlebury 20. The 12-play, 37-yard drive was capped off by a 34-yard field goal from Matt Rawson, who gave Amherst a 3-0 lead with 3:21 to play in the opening quarter.
The Panthers came right back with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that got them inside the Amherst five-yard line, but Amherst's defense held on a fourth and goal play. McKillop led his team on the drive by completing six of his seven pass attempts, but the first quarter ended with the Jeffs' 3-0 lead intact.
The second quarter opened with a bad snap on an Amherst punt from inside the Jeffs' 10, but senior Matt Eberhart made a nice play and sent his attempt 52 yards to the Middlebury 38. The Panthers went three-and-out and made a costly error when a low snap caused their punter's knee to touch the ground while he had possession of the ball, thus giving possession to Amherst on the visitors' 27-yard line.
Amherst took advantage of Middlebury's slip-up and needed only two plays to find the end zone. Brandon Bullock ran the ball for 18 yards and Vetras finished things off with a nine-yard touchdown completion to Will Reed, giving the Jeffs a 10-0 lead with 13:12 remaining in the half.
Middlebury again came right back when a 28-yard McKillop completion to junior David Reed (New Canaan, Conn.) brought the Panthers to the Amherst 24, but Amherst's Clark would make his first big play of the day when the Panthers faced 4th-and-6 from the 20. McKillop tried to find a receiver along the left sideline, but Clark picked him off and ran the ball back 64 yards to the Middlebury 19 to mark his first career interception. Clark's play paid off immediately as the Jeffs put together a six-play scoring drive that ended with a three-yard pass from Vetras to Bullock in the end zone. Rawson's extra point was good and gave the hosts a 17-0 lead with 7:33 on the clock.
The Jeffs kept rolling and forced Middlebury to punt on the ensuing possession, but during the punt Panther sophomore Mike Bilodeau (Hull, Mass.) made a heads-up play by pouncing on the ball after its first bounce hit an Amherst player and became live. Middlebury took over on the Amherst 26 and was working with momentum, but Amherst's Fran Florio quickly took that momentum away by intercepting McKillop on the 3-yard line and returning it 21 yards.
Each team would drive to the red zone in its final drive of the half, but neither was able to score as Amherst took its 17-0 lead into halftime. Each quarterback completed 20 passes in the first 30 minutes, with the Jeffs possessing the ball for 15:51 and the Panthers for 14:09.
With its fourth drive beginning with 6:09 to play in the third frame, Middlebury put together an impressive series thanks to five completions from McKillop, including a pair of 15-yard connections with senior James Millard (Greenwich, Conn.) and a 19-yard strike to Reed. Facing 1st-and-goal from the Amherst 7-yard line, McKillop was picked off by Clark in the end zone to once again take the wind out of Middlebury's sails.
Middlebury began its first scoring drive late in the third quarter, but the Panthers would not get on the scoreboard until the fourth. Facing 2nd-and-goal from the Amherst 7-yard line, McKillop connected with sophomore Matt Rayner (Andover, Mass.) for a touchdown that finished off an eight-play, 57-yard drive and brought the score to 17-7 in favor of Amherst.
The Panthers' next drive would result in a field goal to make it 17-10 with 9:21 to play. During the drive, Edwards got two hands on the ball and nearly came down with another interception, but the ball was tipped to Middlebury senior Tim Monaghan (Rye, N.Y.), who made a heads-up play by catching the tipped ball for a 21-yard completion. The 11-play, 51-yard drive was capped by a 37-yard field goal from junior Anthony Kuchan (Wauwatosa, Wis.).
The Jeffs responded with a field goal of their own when a 21-yard attempt from Rawson split the uprights to give Amherst a 20-10 lead with 4:33 remaining in regulation. Vetras opened the drive with five consecutive completions, including a 17-yard connection with Legister on 3rd-and-11.
The teams traded three-and-out possessions before McKillop completed a pass to Alex Englert at the Amherst 38, but Edwards knocked the ball loose and Vincent DiForte was there to recover the fumble, returning it 27 yards to all but seal the deal for the Jeffs. The Panthers would make one final march down the field but did not have enough time for a comeback, as Amherst held on for the 20-10 win.
Junior Andrew Poulin (Irvington, N.Y.) and senior Eric Kamback (Mahwah, N.J.) recorded 11 and 10 tackles, respectively, to lead the Panthers, with each player also breaking up a pass. Junior Connor Green (Wellesley, Mass.) had 2.0 tackles-for-loss and nine tackles in total, with senior Dan Haluska (Wellesley, Mass.) adding eight tackles on the day.
Senior Erik Rostad (York, Maine) led all rushers on the day with 65 yards on 14 carries, with McKillop adding 12 yards on eight carries. Rayner and Millard each had 111 receiving yards with 12 and 10 catches, respectively, while Rostad caught 11 of McKillop's passes for a total of 84 yards.
. Football record: 1-2
. Up next: 10/17 vs. Williams - 1:30