November 12, 2012

The Panther football team finished the season in sole possession of second place in the NESCAC with a 7-1 mark after a 35-13 victory over Tufts on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. The Panthers earn their best finish since the ’07 squad finished at 7-1 en route to the NESCAC title. The Jumbos suffer their second straight winless season, finishing at 0-8 with a 23-game losing streak.

Middlebury senior receiver Zach Driscoll (Concord, Mass.) finished the game with 10 catches for 124 yards with two touchdowns in the game. His ends the year setting new NESCAC records for receptions (83) and touchdown catches (15) in a season, while coming up just three yards short of the yardage mark (1,134). He ends his career as Middlebury’s all-time leader in receptions (172), yards (2,257) and touchdowns (29).

Junior quarterback McCallum Foote (Newton, Mass.) set a new Middlebury and NESCAC single-season record with 2,897 passing yards, surpassing Donald McKillop’s 2,873 yards in ’09. He also set Middlebury and NESCAC single-season marks earlier this season with 31 touchdown passes.

Tufts came out strong, driving 61 yards on seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on its opening possession. Mike Howell sparked the drive with a 29 yard rush, before John Dodds hit Dylas Haas from 10 yards out for the touchdown.

Following a Middlebury punt, the Jumbos were driving once again, but the drive was halted when sophomore Joel Blockowicz (Potomac, Md.) intercepted a Dodds pass at the Middlebury 20. The Panthers took advantage of the turnover, with Foote finding Driscoll from 19 yards before connecting on a 14-yard scoring strike to tie the game at 7-7.

Middlebury took its first lead of the game late in the half, on a nine-play, 79-yard drive ending in a one-yard touchdown reception for Driscoll. Foote found five different receivers on the drive, including connections of 19 to junior Matt Rea (Summit, N.J.) and 21 to Driscoll.

Leading 14-7 in the third quarter, the Panthers added to their lead with a three-yard connection from Foote over the middle to senior Josh Amster (Encino, Calif.) for his first touchdown catch of the season. An 18-yard connection from Foote to Driscoll was the key play during the scoring drive.

Tufts answered on its next possession, cutting the lead to 21-13 after an extra point was blocked by first-year player Tim Patricia (Los Angeles, Calif.). Dodds had a big 35-yard connection to Nick Kenyon, before a short-two yard rush from Marcel Pitre found pay dirt with 5:28 left in the third.

Middlebury looked to answer on its ensuing drive, but a 25-yard field goal attempt by first-year kicker Jake Feury (Rockaway, N.J.) was blocked by Matt McCormack.

Leading 21-13, the Panthers gained some breathing room midway through the fourth quarter with a defensive touchdown. Middlebury senior John Wiet (Morristown, N.J.) recovered a fumble at the Middlebury 10, racing down the field. As Wiet was caught by a Jumbo defender, he lateralled to junior Jared Onouye (Los Angeles, Calif.), who took the ball to the end zone from 25 yards out.

The Panthers sealed the game on their next drive, taking 5:59 off the clock with a 12-play, 86-yard drive ending in a 43-yard touchdown pass from Foote to senior tight end Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.).

Foote finished the day 36-53 for 389 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Driscoll’s 12 catches were followed by 10 from Chapman for 105 yards and five apiece from running backs Remi Ashkar (Glen Rock, N.J.) and Rea. Ashkar, a senior,  finished with 90 yards on 18 carries, while Rea earned 41 with 10 touches. Patricia finished his rookie season with 85 tackles, including a team-high 10 in the win. Blockowicz added eight tackles with an interception.

• Football final record: 7-1