Midd. Plays Tough D, But Falls At Amherst

October 8, 2005

10/8/05 - Middlebury fell to 0-3 on the season as they came up on the short end of a 15-0 contest at <?xml:namespace prefix = "st1" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Amherst on a rain-soaked Pratt Field in Massachusetts. The Panther defense held Amherst to just six yards passing on the afternoon, but it wasn't enough as Middlebury gained just 106 yards of its own on the day.

The game saw little action in the opening quarter as neither squad could muster a first down in the first three possessions. Middlebury running back Stefan Hrdina reeled off a 26-yard run to take the Panthers down into Amherst territory, but the drive stalled and the Jeffs regained possession after a failed fourth-down attempt at the 25-yard line. Amherst took a 3-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal by Justin Roemer with 2:39 left in the first quarter.

The two teams battled for field position throughout the second frame, and neither could really gain the upper hand. The tide seemed to sway in Amherst's favor at the nine-minute mark as senior tri-captain L.J. Spinnato  fell on a fumble by Middlebury junior quarterback Tiger Lyon at the Middlebury 34-yard line, but the Panthers quickly regained the ball as senior defensive back Ed Allen  reined in a tipped pass from Amherst junior signal caller Nick Kehoe inside the Middlebury 10-yard line.

After a quick Middlebury three-and-out, Cama pushed the Jeffs down to the goal line with 33 yards on eight straight carries, but the Panther defense stiffened and Cama was denied on his fourth-and-goal attempt. Middlebury fought its way out to the 19-yard line on a 14-yard completion from Lyon to junior tight end Jamie Staples, but the Jeffs stopped the drive short and then stole the ball back tackling junior punter Steve Hauschka at the seven-yard line after a muffed snap. With just 14 seconds left before the break, Kehoe attempted to find the end zone, but was hauled down in the backfield by Middlebury sophomore linebacker Erik Woodring to end the half.

The third quarter brought much of the same sloppy action as neither side could find the end zone. However in the closing minutes of the stanza, the rain victimized the Panthers again as a mishandled snap resulted in a shanked punt, giving Amherst possession at the Middlebury 18-yard line. Roemer stretched the Jeffs' advantage to 6-0 with a 23-yard field goal near the end of the frame.

The Amherst defense continued its dominating play in the final quarter, not allowing the Middlebury offense to climb out of its own territory. The Panthers' hopes were all but lost when Jeff rookie A.J. Scola downed a punt from junior teammate Mark Hannon inside the one-yard line with 4:30 remaining. The Panthers took a strategic safety, as they needed a touchdown to even the score anyways, running out of the back of their own end zone, and after forcing Amherst to punt quickly, set up for one last chance at their own 17-yard line. The Jeffs stifled any comeback ideas, forcing four straight Lyon incompletions to regain possession. Ngai Otieno put the game out of reach with a three-yard touchdown plunge with just under a minute left.

Otieno posted his third straight 100-yard game, totaling 104 yards on 21 carries, while Nick Kehoe completed two of seven passes for six yards with an interception. Roemer led the Amherst defense with 15 tackles.

Hrdina, who came into today's game leading the NESCAC in rushing, was held to just 51 yards on 24 carries, and Lyon was limited to nine-of-24 passing for a 66 yards. The Panthers had five defenders rack up double-digit figures in tackles, led by senior linebacker Coleman Hutzler, who posted 15. Woodring was outstanding as well, tallying 13 takedowns and a sack.

--courtesy Amherst--