Football Wins NESCAC Championship
November 10, 2007
Middlebury won its first outright NESCAC Football Championship with a 21-19 win over Tufts in the season finale. The Panthers end the season with a 7-1 mark, a game ahead of 6-2 Trinity and Williams. Middlebury earned a share of the NESCAC title with a similar 7-1 mark back in '00, the first year the NESCAC began awarding football championships.
Tufts fumbled the opening kickoff as Middlebury had to go just 33 yards on six plays to take a 7-0 lead. Donald McKillop hit tight end Charlie Holm for a 22 yard pass on the drive, while connecting again with Holm for a two-yard touchdown pass.
A 55-yard return on the ensuing kickoff left Tufts the ball on the Middlebury 25. Three plays later Matt Russo connected with Stephen Black for a nine-yard scoring strike. The failed extra point left Middlebury a 7-6 advantage.
Middlebury missed a 30-yard field goal later in the quarter, while Tufts could not take advantage of a Panther fumble late in the first quarter.
Middlebury took a 14-6 lead with 6:18 left in the first half on an 11-play, 67-yard drive. McKillop hit Eric Rostad for 12 yards and Andrew Matson for 16 before David Randolph picked up an 18-yard gain on the ground. Randolph would cap the drive with a one-yard rush to increase the lead.
Leading 14-6 at the break, Middlebury opened the second half with a 12-play, 64-yard drive that ate up 5:47 off the clock. McKillop and Holm once again hooked up, this time from 11 yards out to make it 21-6 game.
Tufts answered on its next possession, driving 46 yards after another long kickoff return. Russo hit Black for a 16-yard touchdown, to make it a 21-12 game after the extra point was blocked by Bill Greven.
Neither team would get inside their opponent's 25-yard line, until Tufts began a drive at its own six late in the game. The Jumbos drove 94 yards down the field and scored, as Russo hit Black for the third time in the game for a 19-yard touchdown, making it a 21-19 game with 55 seconds remaining.
The Panthers recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock over two plays to earn the NESCAC crown. Middlebury held a 149-61 edge on the ground, Tufts had a 255-150 advantage through the air, while the Panthers held a 36:22 to 23:38 lead in time of possession.
McKillop went 17 of 29 for 150 yards with two touchdowns on the afternoon, while rushing 10 times for 48 yards. Randolph led all rushers with 74 yards and a touchdown, while Holm caught six passes for 68 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Russo went 28 of 53 for Tufts with 255 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Black caught 11 passes for 118 yards with three touchdowns, while Kevin Gleason had 10 receptions for 84 yards.
Erik Woodring led the Middlebury defense with 18 tackles, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble on the afternoon. His 106 tackles this season are just two shy of the school record, while he ends his career with 307 tackles, breaking Andy Steele's record of 305 from '97-'00.