Football Opens With Win Over Wesleyan

September 23, 2006

The Middlebury College football team picked up a 10-7 win over Wesleyan in the season-opener for both teams on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. Stefan Hrdina gained 139 yards rushing to lead the Middlebury offense, while Erik Woodring picked up a team-high 14 tackles. Wesleyan drops its 11th consecutive game, dating back to November of '04.

The Middlebury defense got the team on the board early as a Steve Hauschka punt put Wesleyan on its own eight yard line. On the ensuing play, Kevin Ryan sacked Zach Librizzi in the end zone for a safety. Middlebury went three-and-out on its next drive, but a Hauschka punt pinned the Cardinals on their own one-yard line. Two plays later, Alex Buggy hauled down Phil Banks in the end zone for the team's second safety of the quarter.

Middlebury's next drive stalled at the 12, resulting in a missed 29-yard field goal by Hauschka. Neither team would drive deep into scoring territory for the remainder of the half, leaving the Panthers with a 4-0 lead at the intermission.

Wesleyan took a 7-4 lead early in the third quarter as they drove 67 yards on five plays. Librizzi threw a lateral pass to Mark Noonan on the right flat, before Noonan found Danny Granatell for the 33-yard scoring strike.

Wesleyan's Jeff McLaren intercepted a Tiger Lyon pass on Middlebury's next drive, but the Cardinals could not capitalize as their drive ended at the Middlebury 38.

The Panthers tied the game in the fourth quarter, capping off a 77-yard, 10-play drive with a 19-yard field goal from Hauschka. An end-around pass from wide receiver Derek Polsinello to tight end Jamie Staples set up the score.

The Cardinals' next drive ended on an interception by Middlebury's Brian Young at the Panther's 32-yard line. Middlebury followed with the game-winning drive, going 55 yards on 10 plays. Lyon and Andrew Matson hooked up twice in the drive for 37 yards, as Hauschka split the uprights with a 23-yarder with 3:10 left in the game.

Wesleyan's final possession ended on downs at the Middlebury 49 as the Panthers ran out the clock to earn the win.

Lyon ended the day 15-29 for 148 yards with a pair of interceptions for Middlebury, while Librizzi went 13-32 for 159 yards with one pick for Wesleyan. Hrdina ended the contest with 32 carries for 139 yards, while Staples caught eight balls for 85 yards to lead Middlebury.

Quincy Francis had a big day for Wesleyan on defense, ending the afternoon with 17 tackles. Brian Valerio had 14 on the afternoon, as did Tim O'Callaghan. Woodring paced the Panthers with 14 to go along with a pair of pass break-ups.