Hrdina Rushes For 238, Midd. Falls At Bowdoin

September 24, 2005

9/24/05 - Despite a 238-yard rushing effort by Stefan Hrdina, the Middlebury College football team suffered a 22-21 loss at Bowdoin in the season-opener for both teams. The Panthers return to action on Saturday, October 1st when they host Colby at 1:00 p.m.

  A bizarre first half saw the Panthers ride the legs of Hrdina, who capped a six-play, 69-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Tiger Lyon to give Middlebury a 7-0 edge at11:11 of the opening quarter. Bowdoin answered quickly, as Polar Bear quarterback Ricky Leclerc connected with Nolin on a sideline route for a 46-yard scoring strike at 9:29. On the PAT, however, Middlebury's Erik Woodring blocked the attempt into the open arms of teammate David Randolph, who went the distance for a two-point score and a 9-6 Panther lead.

  Bowdoin grabbed the lead later in the frame, when linebacker John Regan forced Middlebury's Dom DiDomenico to fumble at the Panther 30. The ball was scooped up by defensive back Steve Curwen and returned 25 yards for the touchdown, marking the second straight year that Curwen had scored against the Panthers. The senior defensive back also posted a 51-yard interception return in Middlebury last year. Woodring blocked his second straight PAT for Middlebury, however, and Bowdoin held a 12-9 lead.

  Middlebury responded with a nine-play, 57-yard drive and scored on a Steve Hauschka 32-yard field goal to deadlock the contest at 12 apiece.

  Later in the quarter, Middlebury stopped Bowdoin on a fourth-and-one opportunity in their own territory and two plays later scored on a 65-yard sideline run by Hrdina, who had 165 yards rushing in the first half alone. Bowdoin's Steve Cunningham blocked the PAT and the Panthers settled for an 18-12 lead at halftime.

  Bowdoin started the second half with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that was rewarded with a 21-yard field goal from Nolan McNair, cutting the lead to 18-15, and Middlebury responded with a 15-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard field goal from Hauschka to make it 21-15 Panthers after three quarters.

  Early in the fourth quarter, both teams squandered good chances when their quarterbacks threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions. With Middlebury driving into Bowdoin territory, Brendan Murphy picked off a Lyon pass at the Bowdoin 19, halting a Panther effort. On the ensuing possession for the Polar Bears, John Montesanti stepped in front of a Ricky Leclerc pass at the Middlebury 38, preserving the six-point lead.

  After forcing Middlebury to punt with 7:14 remaining, Bowdoin started the game-winning drive at their own 12 yard-line. The Polar Bears moved the ball out to the 34 and were faced with a fourth-and-one with five minutes left. Running back Matt Boyd plunged through the Panther defensive line, barely passing the first-down marker to keep Bowdoin's chances alive. On the next play, Leclerc hooked up with receiver Scott Brisson on a 32-yard strike to the Middlebury 33. After back-to-back rushes by Boyd, Leclerc found Nolin over the middle for an 11-yard gain to the Panther 15. A pass to fullback Rich Florence gained three more yards for Bowdoin, moving the ball to the 12 yard-line. On second-and-7, Nolin took the ball from Leclerc on a reverse, scampered down the sideline and dove inside the pylon to deadlock the score at 21 with 2:37 on the clock. McNair nailed the extra-point to give Bowdoin the 22-21 edge, capping the 12-play, 88-yard drive.

  Middlebury rallied and moved the ball into Bowdoin territory with under a minute to play. Faced with a fourth-and-8, a pass from Lyon to Jamie Staples fell incomplete, handing the ball over the Polar Bears. Bowdoin ran out the clock and claimed victory for the third time in their last four home games.

  Hrdina was outstanding for Middlebury, rushing for 238 yards and one touchdown. He also had one touchdown receiving from Lyon, who went 17-27 with 169 yards passing. Staples had a team-high six catches for 64 yards on the afternoon. Coleman Hutzler made 13 total tackles to lead the Middlebury defense, while Neiman Groce had three tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.   Nolin's 203 yards receiving eclipse the Bowdoin mark held by Steve Prinn (202 vs. Hamilton, 1998). His 10 catches are the second-most in school history. Leclerc finished the day with 22-37 with 303 yards passing. Curwen had 10 tackles to go with a touchdown, while John Regan had 11 solo tackles on the day.